Ignorance is bliss--if you are a Republican, evidently.
In yesterday's New York Times, Paul Krugman, in a column entitled "The Ignorance Caucus," made reference to the Texas Republican Party's 2012 platform, which was refenced favorably in a speech last week by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor joined in calling for an end to Federal funding for research in the social sciences. I hadn't seen a prior description of this document, so eagerly followed the link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/texas-gop-rejects-critical-thinking-skills-really/2012/07/08/gJQAHNpFXW_blog.html
It is, in a word, horrifying.
Among other things, it includes: "Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority."
Now, a specific objection to "Knowlege-Based Education" programs is one thing, but to go on to object to teaching "critical thinking skills" on the grounds that this "has the purpose of challenging the student's fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority," is way out there. Hasn't the goal of progressive education been to challenge the student's fixed beliefs since, oh, Socrates' day? (Of course, look what happened to Socrates. Methinks the Texas GOP would be preparing his hemlock drink.) Socrates was a great one for undermining parental authority, too.
"Parental authority" may be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending upon the parents in question, but how old do you have to be before you are eligible to question? I'm guessing never, which causes me to visualize a Texas version of the old Danny Thomas Show, where one of the running gags was that filial duty required deference to the beliefs of the aged clan patriarch, no matter how arbitrary or backward they were.
Here are some other interesting/appalling bits from the Texas GOP platform:
"American Identity Patriotism and Loyalty – We believe the current teaching of a multicultural curriculum is divisive. We favor strengthening our common American identity and loyalty instead of political correctness that nurtures alienation among racial and ethnic groups. Students should pledge allegiance to the American and Texas flags daily to instill patriotism."
Rational patriotism is of course fine. However, the jaundiced view that "political correctness . . . nurtures alienation among racial and ethnic groups" is totaly factually unsupported.
"Classroom Discipline –We recommend that local school boards and classroom teachers be given more authority to deal with disciplinary problems. Corporal punishment is effective and legal in Texas."
Corporal punishment may be legal in Texas, but I'd like to see any documentation that it is "effective" in any particular way.
"Controversial Theories – We support objective teaching and equal treatment of all sides of scientific theories. We believe theories such as life origins and environmental change should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind."
This is a weaseling truckling to the 'teach the contoversy' crowd, which is, itself, a weaseling way of getting Creationism into schools. One has to wonder what would happen to a teacher who taught that Evolution and the current theory on the origin of the universe were the best theories until "new data is produced."
"Early Childhood Development – We believe that parents are best suited to train their children in their early development and oppose mandatory pre-school and Kindergarten. We urge Congress to repeal government-sponsored programs that deal with early childhood development."
Given the well-documented benefits of early childhood education, this is extremely backward. I hadn't been aware that there was a Conservative war on Kindergarten.
"Parental Rights in Education – We believe the right of parents to raise and educate their children is fundamental. Parents have the right to withdraw their child from any specialized program. We urge the Legislature to enact penalties for violation of parental rights."
"Sex Education – We recognize parental responsibility and authority regarding sex education. We believe that parents must be given an opportunity to review the material prior to giving their consent. We oppose any sex education other than abstinence until marriage."
Granted that there should be a reasonable balance between family/community values and what professional pedagogues think, but this proposes giving any ignoramus the power to keep his child out of everything but basic "reading, writing, arithmetic, and citizenship" for any reason or none at all.
"Religious Freedom in Public Schools – We urge school administrators and officials to inform Texas school students specifically of their First Amendment rights to pray and engage in religious speech, individually or in groups, on school property without government interference. We urge the Legislature to end censorship of discussion of religion in our founding documents and encourage discussing those documents."
"Censorship of discussion of religion in our founding documents" is a straw-man covering attempts to introduce revisionist history such as the "Thomas Jefferson as evangelical Christian" myth promulgated by some members of the Texas State Board of Education.
And there's more. School districts that use textbooks not specifically approved by the Texas State Board of Education would have the burden of proving those books were "factually and historically correct"--a heavy burden considering some of the counterfactual doctrines adopted by said Board. "Since education is not an enumerated power of the federal government, we believe the Department of Education (DOE) should be abolished."
Overall, the impression is of a philosophy harking back to the Know-Nothings of the 1850's, in particular its heavily nativist and Christian tendencies. Its evident goal is to raise up a generation of blindly obedient worker drones--not what one would expect from the once fiercely independent Texans.This entry was originally posted at http://sinister-sigils.dreamwidth.org/230933.html. Please comment there using OpenID.