Crazy Train’s Texas Stop

We’ve gone through the challenges of Zombie Politics, those basic conservative Republican political positions that resist change regardless of fact.

We’ve also gone through some research that provides a foundation for why conservatives appear more at risk than liberals for twisting facts to support their political positions.

Finally, we’ve learned a little about this historical background that explains how the country became divided up into red and blue states.  It’s a difference that is as old as the bible between farmers and herders.

Texas though has always been its own unique kind of crazy.

At the heart of a recent dust storm is CSCOPE.  This is an electronic curriculum management system that offers Web-based lesson plans and exams designed to help teachers adhere to state education requirements. It is used in 875 school districts — more than 70 percent of districts statewide — and is supposed to be flexible enough for teachers to alter content to meet their individual needs.  It is created by teachers for teachers and currently stores 1600 lesson plans

Boston Tea Party Terrorists

One of the charges was that one lesson characterized the original members of the Boston Tea Party as terrorists.  What the lesson actually says is that the British would have seen the Tea Party as terrorism, while the colonists would have seen it as civil disobedience. But facts aren’t often part of these sorts of discussions.

Socialist Flags

Another is a lesson designed to encourage critical thinking around the subject of propaganda.  The lesson’s text says,

Notice socialist/communist nations use symbolism on their flags representing various aspects of their economic system. Imagine a new socialist nation is creating a flag and you have been put in charge of creating a flag. Use symbolism to represent aspects of socialism/communism on your flag. What kind of symbolism/colors would you use?

This requires some familiarity with socialist/communist philosophy and how symbols could be used to promote that philosophy.

Instead, State Senator Larry Taylor expressed concern that this particular lesson was PROMOTING socialism itself rather than just teaching about it.

Muslim Indoctrination

Of course you have to figure that paranoia in Texas would eventually lead the Tea Party to get involved.  They, of course, linked it all to plot to fill our children with Muslim propaganda by sneaking messages into the text books and lesson plans.

They were able to convince the state to launch a thorough investigation of the curriculum.  The investigation discovered that there was a bias in the teaching and study material.  Just didn’t happen to be toward Islam.  It was biased toward Christianity.

Uncritical Thinking

This should not come as any surprise in a state where the GOP platform in 2012 officially bans critical thinking as a tool to undermine parental authority.

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.

Summary

Since we are in desperate need of some facts at this point to ground this discussion in some form of reality, let’s see how Texas ranks on a national scale with regard to both education spending and outcomes.  Texas has one of the largest public school systems in the country and yet ranked 41st in spending per student.  Texas got a C+ in quality rating from Education Weekly’s Quality Counts report.  Maryland with a B+ was the highest ranked state.  The Annie E. Casey foundation ranks Texas 31st with Massachusetts as the state with the best primary and secondary educational system.  Texas ranks 43rd in high school graduation rates.  It ranks 35th in elementary school standardized testing.  On SAT scores it ranked 45th in part due to low scores in Critical Reading and Writing.

As always, there are consequences to choices and the most vulnerable usually bear the brunt of those consequences.

 

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