Archive for September, 2021

Does Your State Have a GOP Legislature and Governor? If So…. Get Ready… ALEC Has a Civics Curriculum Ready to Mandate!

September 29, 2021 Comments off

I read an AP article in today’s NYTimes education newsletter describing a recent law enacted in the Wisconsin House that mandates a statewide civics curriculum. According to the report,

A statewide civics curriculum would be created that all Wisconsin public and private schools would have to follow under a Republican-authored bill the state Assembly passed on Tuesday.

The measure would also require all public school students to take at least a half credit in civics education in order to graduate.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos introduced the bill, saying the country faces a “civics education crisis.”

The Wisconsin Association of School Boards says nearly all school districts are already providing civics education and if the bill were to become law, they would hope those districts could continue using the same curriculum.

The measure is also supported by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

Under the bill, the required civics curriculum would have to include teaching the history and context of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights and “a sense of civic pride and desire to participate regularly with government at all levels.”

Living in a state led by a GOP governor and governed by a GOP legislator, I fully expect a similar bill to be headed are way. Why? Because I assumed that ALEC— the American Legislative Exchange Council— was the force behind the bill… and a quick look at their web page confirmed my suspicions. Here’s ALEC’s (ahem) thinking on this issue:

Americans take personal pride in the diversity of their ethnic and cultural backgrounds. However, as a nation, we possess a singular political heritage based on the principles of life, liberty, justice, and equality of opportunity as defined and expressed in the Declaration of Independence, codified in the Constitution, and defended in the Federalist Papers. Thomas Jefferson, recognizing the future need to protect America’s political heritage, prescribed a general education for all citizens, “to instruct the mass of our citizens in these their rights, interests, and duties, as men and citizens.” However, today, and for too many years, our students have been denied the basic education required to develop a command of and commitment to the ideals essential to a democratic form of government. The extent of civic illiteracy in America is large and growing. The results of various surveys have confirmed the lack, especially among young Americans, of even a basic knowledge about our Constitution and the structure and function of our government…

Nevertheless, a reversal of this trend may take place only if legislators enact new laws, which provide clear and detailed instructions about (1) curriculum and other related matters, and (2) sanctions and appropriate enforcement mechanisms.

And in ALEC’s world, even though they do not support any kind of mandates or regulations for businesses and even though they view public schools as “failing” they want those “failed public schools” to require their students to learn about civics. To that end, they have developed a curriculum that will accomplish the seemingly high-minded goal of inculcating today’s youth with “...a singular political heritage based on the principles of life, liberty, justice, and equality of opportunity as defined and expressed in the Declaration of Independence, codified in the Constitution, and defended in the Federalist Papers.”

All of this will be accomplished with guardrails, though… because ALEC’s think tank expects teachers to provide students with an interest in government without engaging them in any controversial topics… like the topics regarding slavery, prohibition, the expansion of the number of eligible voters, and the number of terms a president can serve— you know, those things that led to amendments to the constitution. And should a teacher fail to follow the “clear and detailed instructions” about curriculum and other related matters, I’m sure that some bill will pass providing a bounty for those who report such a failure and “…sanctions and appropriate enforcement mechanisms” will be put in place so that such deficiencies can be addressed. After all… we wouldn’t want our students to believe that independent thinking was valued by the Founding Fathers….

Categories: Essays Tags: ,

No One Filed a Suit When a Lone Child Allergic to Peanuts Denied Every Child in School PBJs… But Now Parents are Suing Because My Kid Doesn’t Like a Mask?

September 20, 2021 Comments off

Our local paper this morning featured an article from the Concord Monitor reporting that a group of parents from Merrimack NH are suing because their children are being forced to wear a mask. Maybe I’m not thinking clearly or logically… but… it strikes me that parents whose children are required to wear masks to prevent the spread of Covid are no different that the parents whose children were required to avoid packing PB and J sandwiches because on the students in a classroom or— ins some cases a school— are allergic to peanuts. Such mandates often elicit compassionate reactions and, to the best of my knowledge, have never elicited lawsuits. It seems to me that the right to the good health and well-being of all children and adults in a school and in a neighborhood, region, state or nation override concerns about wearing a mask for a short term. . 

Categories: Essays

Texas Template Offers a Quick Path to Desegregation at Public Universities that Works for ALL: Admit the Top 10% from ALL High Schools to College

September 18, 2021 Comments off

An NYTimes article by Auburn graduate Drake Pooley in today’s paper describes a quick way to desegregate public Universities: admit the top 10% of each high school graduating class in the state to college:

We know how to bring about greater student body diversity, because some public universities have done it. When the University of Texas, Austin, started admitting the top 10 percent of every high school graduating class in the state in the late 1990s, it created pathways for schools in more historically disadvantaged communities to send students to that flagship university.

Over the next decade, the number of high schools in Texas whose graduates went there rose from 674 to 900. Once on campus, those students graduated at similar levels as all other students. This program increased earnings for these students with no significant harm to those who were “pushed out,” in terms of graduation rates and earnings, according to a 2020 working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

If such a plan were combined with an influx of federal funds specifically earmarked for need-based scholarships to colleges and junior colleges access to higher education would readily available even to those students attending public high schools in underfunded districts. 

Categories: Essays Tags: ,