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Curriculum Director’s Cautious Interpretation of Texas’ Anti-CRT Law Should Send Legislators Running for Cover… but Will More Likely Embolden Holocaust Deniers

October 15, 2021 Leave a comment

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In a state where tipsters are paid $10,000 for reporting on anyone who abets an abortion it is not unreasonable for teachers to be concerned about their future employment should they fail to meet the standards regarding the “balanced” presentation of history. When asked about how to tell students about the Holocaust, then, it was not surprising to read that a curriculum supervisor suggested that teachers might consider offering both sides of that issue. In a state where the Governor has ignored the truth about vaccines and masks and denied the existence of systemic racism it seems likely that Holocaust deniers might get a sympathetic ear should “their side” of the narrative be withheld. Given this cautious interpretation of offering “balance” it seems that someone in the Texas GOP might step forward to make it clear that the Holocaust DID happen and should definitely be included in the curriculum of ALL high schools. Oh… and while they are at it they might make certain that the science of climate change is also taught. I fear that both announcements are not forthcoming.

NYTimes Headline Misses the Point: Virginia Governor’s Race Is Not Being Shaped by “Schools”. It IS Being Shaped by Billionaires Who Seek to Privatize Public Services… Beginning with Education

October 13, 2021 Leave a comment

Lisa Lerer’s article on the Virginia Governor’s race focuses on the issues GOP candidate Glenn Younkin is raising about public education and mostly ignores the issues Terry McAuliffe focuses on. And, alas, Ms. Lerer’s article does NOT follow the money! Earlier this month the Washington Post published an article by Isaac Stanley Becker tracing the roots of the anti-vaxx, anti-mask, and anti-CRT rhetoric spouted by Mr. Youngkin to the usual group of mega-billionaires who want to privatize public services. Do the names Koch, DeVos, Walton ring any bells?

Moreover, buried in the article is the main difference between the candidates when it comes to public education: McAuliffe wants to “invest $2 billion in education, raise teacher pay, expand pre-K programs and invest in broadband access for students.” Mr. Youngkin doesn’t want to talk about those substantive issues. Instead he’d rather talk about bogus topics like “banning CRT”, the “freedom” to infect classmates and teachers by not wearing masks, and the “freedom” for parents to choose what teachers teach.

Should Mr. Youngkin get elected, expect endless debates over book-banning, mask-wearing… and budget cuts… the privatizers can hardly wait!

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….

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