Last weekend, the seniors at Columbine High School graduated. They
tossed their caps into the air, celebrating their liberation from twelve
years of public education where they were indoctrinated in the system’s
moral and academic chaos and were undoubtedly glad to come out of it
alive. Some of their classmates did not. They remembered those who did
not, omitting the names of the two perpetrators of the massacre who were
also supposed to graduate that weekend. Instead, those two chose death.

Which brings us to the subject of death education. Death education
has been a part of the progressive curriculum in virtually every public
school in America for at least the last fifteen years. Yet no one in the
establishment, let alone the U.S. Department of Education, has sought to
find out what death education is doing to the minds and souls of the
millions of children who are subjected to it. But we do have plenty of
anecdotal information on hand.

For example, back in 1985, Tara Becker, a student from Columbine
High, went to a pro-family conference in Colorado to tell the attendees
about death education at the school and the effect it had on her. Jayne
Schindler, who heard Tara’s testimony, reported:

    Tara brought with her a booklet she had helped to compile for one
    of her school classes. This booklet was called “Masquerade” and was full
    of subliminal pictures and prose. Tara explained how she had been taught
    to use the hidden, double meaning, subliminals and how she had focused
    so much of her time and attention on death that she, herself, had tried
    to commit suicide.

A video was made of Tara’s testimony and distributed nationwide by
Eagle Forum. The tape was aired on British television, and The Atlantic
Monthly did a feature story based on it. The producers at 20/20 saw the
video and decided to do a segment on death education which was aired in
1990. I remember that video very well because I was called by the
free-lance writer who was working on the story and sent her some of the
newsletters I had written on the subject.

Schindler writes, “Tara explained that the subject of death was
integrated into many of the courses at her high school. She said that
death was made to look glamorous, that living was hard, and that
reincarnation would solve their problems. Students were told that they
would always return to a much better life form. They would return to the
‘Oversoul’ and become like God.

“After one of the students at her school committed suicide, a
‘suicide talking day’ was held and every class was to talk about death.
Class assignments were for students to write their own obituaries and
suicide notes. They were told to trust their own judgment in choosing
whether to live or die.”

So Tara began to think of suicide as a means of solving some of her
problems. She thought of liberating her spirit from enslavement to her
body. She says she also wanted to die to help relieve the planet of
overpopulation. These were a few of the crazy thoughts put into her head
by her “educators.” God knows what kind of equally crazy thoughts were
put into the heads of the two killers at Columbine.

Fortunately, Tara survived death education at Columbine High and
lived to talk about it. But thousands of students have committed suicide
all across America and no one in Washington has even bothered to hold a
hearing on the subject. It is now assumed that teenage suicide is as
natural as burgers and fries. It’s just one of those things that
teenagers now do in America.

But what seems to be happening as death education becomes more and
more sophisticated is that many of these teenagers with the suicidal
urge now want to take some of their teachers and classmates with them.
After all, reincarnation is an equal opportunity concept. It’s for

How long has this been going on? Here are some excerpts from an
article entitled “Development Opportunities for Teachers of Death
Education” published in “The Clearing House” in May 1989, ten years ago:

    This article reaffirms the need for death education and offers
    some methods for improving pedagogical skills of teachers.

    A task force appointed by the president of the Association for Death
    Education and Counseling … is charged to (1) carry out a study of the
    current state of death education in U.S. schools, (2) make
    recommendations for the ideal K-12 curriculum in death education, and
    (3) make recommendations for minimal knowledge, skills, and attitudes
    that teachers should possess before attempting to teach death education
    to children. …

    Although we can assume that most pedagogical efforts are sound,
    recent examples have surfaced, depicting miseducation and ill handling
    of attempts to address dimensions of dying and death. Consider the
    following items from the Dallas Morning Press:

    “Some have blamed death education classes for the suicides of two
    students who attended courses in Illinois and Missouri. Other students
    have suffered traumatic reactions. Minimally trained or untrained
    teachers have asked first graders to make model coffins out of shoe
    boxes; other students have been instructed to sit in coffins, measure
    themselves for caskets, list 10 ways of dying (including violent death),
    attend an embalming and touch an undraped corpse.”

    Certainly mistakes do occur in many instructional settings and some
    minimally trained teachers may, on occasion, handle situations
    inappropriately. But let us hope that the above examples are rare and
    that effective death education is the norm in our schools throughout

There you have it. A plea made ten years ago for “effective death
education,” whatever that is. What is “effective” death education? Can
the educators tell us? What about simply eliminating death education?
But that won’t happen, because if we did, we’d have to get rid of values
clarification, sensitivity training, transcendental meditation,
out-of-body experience, magic circles, outcome based education, drug ed,
sex ed, suicide ed, and now massacre ed.

Incidentally, the National Education Association has played an active
role in promoting death education. It sponsored the writing and
publication of “Death and Dying Education” by Prof. Richard O. Ulin of
the University of Massachusetts. The book, written in 1978, includes an
18-week syllabus for the death educator.

Dr. R. J. Rushdoony has written, “Humanistic education is the
institutionalized love of death.” Meanwhile, the best the schools and
President Clinton can offer the kids is grief counseling and conflict
resolution by trained counselors who will have a lot more work to do in
the future.

Samuel L. Blumenfeld is the author of eight books on education,
including “Homeschooling: A Parents Guide to Teaching Children.” His
books are available on

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.