I have just had this article past to me by a colleague in the US -
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/27/texas-republican-party-2012-platform-education_n_1632097.html. When I first saw it and read it I though this was a joke, but unfortunately it is not, this is the education manifesto of the Repulican party, in the Very republican state of Texas.
The key points of the article, once you have moved past the headline grabbing aspects of sex education and absitance are as follows;
- corporal punishment is effective
- the party opposes mandatory pre-school and kindergarten, saying parents are “best suited to train their children in their early development.”
- they oppose the teaching of “higher order thinking skills” — a curriculum which strives to encourage critical thinking — arguing that it might challenge “student’s fixed beliefs” and undermine “parental authority.” – Quote “ 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-BasedEducation (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challengingthe student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.“
- encouragement of legislation that prevents “non-citizens unlawfully present in the United States” from enrolling in public schools
- 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
- Textbook reviews - Until such time as all texts are required to be approved by the SBOE (state board of education), each ISD that uses non-SBOE approved instructional materials must verify them as factually and historically correct. Also the ISD board must hold a public hearing on such materials, protect citizen’s right of petition and require compliancewith TEC and legislative intent. Local ISD boards must maintain the same standards as the SBOE.
- Traditional Principles in Education – We support school subjects with emphasis on the Judeo-Christian principles upon which America was founded and which form the basis of America’s legal, political and economic systems. We support curricula that are heavily weighted on original founding documents, includingthe Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and Founders’ writings
- School Health Care – We urge legislators to prohibit reproductive health care services, including counseling, referrals, and distribution of condoms and contraception through public schools. We support the parents’ right to choose, without penalty, which medications are administered to their minor children. We oppose medical clinics on school property except higher education and health care for students without parental consent
State Board of Education (SBOE) – We believe that the SBOE should continue to be an elected body consisting of fifteen members. Their responsibilities must include:……. and Maintaining sole authority over all curricula content and the state adoption of all educational materials.This process must include public hearings
I have to be honest, I find this very scary. As an educator what they are proposing contradicts educational theory and practice the world over. It challenges freedom of information a core element of the American constitution.
We do not want our students to engage in higher order thinkings skills – analysis, evaluation and creativity – as this may challenge their “fixed beliefs”. If teaching the students to think challenges “fixed beliefs” then you have to wonder what they are. If teaching them to think challenges parental authority, what is this authority based on?
I struggle to with a return to corporal punishment as a method of maintaining discipline in the classroom? How does inflicting pain and humiliation to a young person help them to learn? How does it improve their learning outcomes? How does this role model acceptable and appropriate behavior by saying it is acceptable to beat people for infractions, does this mean that the same principle will be applied out side of the school? Perhaps in the home or the workplace?
Is this a curriculum of indoctrination perhaps worthy of 1960′s communist systems? Blind acceptance of policy and fixed belief is the core of many of the terrorist organizations plaguing the world today, these organizations indoctrinate by suppressing questioning, focusing on drilling/reinforcement of core concepts/principles/beliefs and using physical and mental deprivation and abuse to condition their members.