Saturday, May 22, 2010

We Don't Need No Partisan Education, We Don't Need No Thought Control

Texas' board of education just approved a more conservative curriculum for public school students, and what gives me pause is that a politically imbalanced organization is setting the agenda for millions of children and thousands of teachers.

As the Dallas Morning News reports:
Regarding the complaint that Republicans and conservative ideology have been given more prominence, board member Don McLeroy, R-College Station, said the panel was trying to make up for the liberal-slanted curriculum now being used in schools.

"I think we've corrected the imbalance we've had in the past and now have our curriculum headed straight down the middle," said McLeroy, one of seven social conservatives on the board. "I'm very pleased with what we've accomplished.

Board Democrats accused the Republicans of a "cut-and-paste" job that included a flurry of late amendments undoing much of the work of teachers and academics who were appointed to review teams to draft the curriculum requirements last year.
Two big flags go up when I read these paragraphs: one is an undercurrent of revenge. I wonder how much of this is about correcting a mistake versus getting back at the ideological opposition. The second flag is the ease of which opinions of teachers and professional educators are swept away. Or are these people easily dismissible as "liberal hacks?"

Reading on:
Several Republicans left the board meeting room while Democrats laid out their objections to the document, but returned to defeat a Democratic effort to delay action on the proposal until July.
Wouldn't we all just love to leave the room rather than listen to the opposition? Many times, that's all right. But this group is appointed and paid to work together, and that means listening to the minority, even if they're the minority. Walking out on them conveys a lack of respect and dereliction of duty. I speak as somebody who had to learn that lesson the hard way. Please don't follow my bad example from the past.

I grow very angry at the sight of anybody using a child as a political pawn -- politicans, mostly. Arizona Congressman John Shadegg using a baby to make a point on health care was one of most disgusting things I have ever seen in Congress, and explains the loathing so many have for politicians.

In a nation that is growing more partisan and politicized, it's time we got partisanship out of the education boards and left it to the people who care most about making sure kids learn about their history, recognize its strengths and avoid repeating its mistakes without worrying about whether the material fits good conservative or liberal values. Teach kids to analyze and make up their own minds.

When our kids grow old enough to vote, then they're fair game for political recruitment and propaganda. Until then, in the words of Pink Floyd, "leave them kids alone."

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