Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Another Textbook Controversy

In March the Texas State Board of Education will make recommendations regarding textbooks for the state's 4.7 million public school students. The elected board is already creating controversy over standards it has accepted, such as restoring Christmas as an example of an important religious celebration and excluding mention of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Critics are claiming that the board has become an avenue for social conservatives to push their political agenda. The Chronicle reported:

The Texas Freedom Network, an Austin-based group which monitors public education in Texas, complained about "blatant politicization of social studies curriculum."

"When partisan politicians take a wrecking ball to the work of teachers and scholars, you get a document that looks more like a party platform than a social studies curriculum," said Kathy Miller, president of the group.

This shouldn't be surprising. The very nature of the State Board of Education makes it a political entity. Backed by government force, the board determines what is taught in the state's schools, and its edicts are imposed on all students. Anyone who thinks that this won't become a magnet for special interest groups is extremely naive, dishonest, or both.

The entire public school system is dependent upon force. Revenues are obtained through confiscatory taxation. "Customers", i.e. students, are obtained through compulsory attendance laws. The curriculum is imposed by the State Board. The result is predictable--special interest groups competing to wield the reigns of power.

While home-schooling and private schools are certainly an alternative to the public schools, for many families these are not practical options. Both can impose significant financial hardships on parents, particularly when they are forced to financially support a failing public school system. Such families are left to the mercy of politicians and bureaucrats, who have the power to decide what their children are taught.

The education of one's children is one of the most important tasks of parenthood. Yet most parents have little choice in the matter. Their own judgment is rendered moot. When conservatives are in control, the children of Leftists are forced to learn about Phyllis Schlafly and the Moral Majority. When Leftists are in control, the children of conservatives are forced to learn about La Raza and alternative lifestyles. No matter who is in control, someone will be unhappy.

The solution is to put parents back in control of their children's education. The solution is to abolish public education and let parents decide what their children will be taught.

Government's only legitimate purpose is the protection of individual rights--the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Government's purpose is not the indoctrination of children, which will invariably occur when government dictates the curriculum in the schools.

Of course, the Leftists who are criticizing the current textbook proposals are not interested in ceding such control. Despite their rhetoric, their complaints are not aimed at government's virtual monopoly on education, but how that monopoly is currently being exercised. Fundamentally, the criticisms from the Left are not about education, but about power.

1 comment:

Irene said...

All I know is that Thomas Jefferson, the writer of the Declaration of Independence, should not be left out of textbooks anywhere in the United States. If conservatives find him too liberal for their tastes that's too bad - they should not be allowed to rewrite American history and misinform school childen - talk about indoctrination of the young!! It's what they accuse others of doing while they really are doing it themselves-that's been the conservative MO for years now. Lying hypocrites.