As if we needed more evidence that the GOP wants to keep people stupid, the Texas Republican party has made it all-but explicit. The state party platform is about as anti-education as it gets. To wit:
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.
There is so much fail in the quoted paragraph. They oppose teaching critical thinking skills. They oppose teaching critical thinking skills. As Valerie Strauss points out in The Washington Post, it’s not clear whether critical thinking skills can be taught, but, come on, I wasn’t born yesterday. That’s not what the Texas GOP is talking about. How do I know? Check out that last line. They oppose teaching programs that “have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs…”
Challenging “fixed beliefs”
What the what? The only education worth providing will challenge a student’s fixed beliefs. What is the point of going to school if you don’t learn new things from different perspectives? And, evidently, students in Texas can forget about thinking critically about the perspectives from which information is taught! They might as well just hang out at the mall.
However, this really isn’t even consistent with another plank in the platform. Later in the document, the Texas GOP says this:
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, including the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and Founders’ writings.
Ohhhhhhkay. But what if a student is Buddhist, or Jain, or – Thor forbid! – atheist? Those Judeo-Christian principles would challenge that student’s fixed beliefs. I guess those beliefs aren’t as important as the
correct Christian beliefs.
So the blog-o-sphere went kind of nuts when the platform was published earlier this month. As a result, the party has said that the whole thing was one big mistake.
Um, excuse me for using my critical thinking skills, but really? Someone had to propose this plank, write it down, and then the party had to vote on it. The party voted to make this the platform, you guys! They signed their name to it! Mistake my foot. Their only mistake was thinking that no one would notice.
It gets (even) better
However, this implausible excuse only really applies to that one particular plank. Let’s take a look at some of the other droplets from this fountain of ignorance:
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.
College Tuition – We recommend three levels of college tuition: In-state requiring proof of Texas legal citizenship, out-of-state requiring proof of US citizenship, and nonresident legal alien. Non-US citizens should not be eligible for state or federal grants, or loans.
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.
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.
And there’s more…
Educational Entitlement – We encourage legislation that prohibits enrollment in free public schools of non-citizens unlawfully present in the United States.
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.
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.
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.
These are just the most egregious bits in the education section of the platform. Excuse me. My brain has just exploded from all the fail.