Friday, March 19, 2010

Politics and Education

Last Friday the Texas State Board of Education approved new standards for social studies that immediately drew criticism. The 11-4 vote was largely along party lines, with only one Democrat supporting the standards. Board member Mavis Knight complained:
We have been about conservative versus liberal. We have manipulated the standards to insist on what we want to be in the document regardless whether it's appropriate. We are perpetrating a fraud on the students of this state.
Something tells me that if Knight had been on the winning side she'd be singing a much different tune. Indeed, another board member, Mary Helen Berlanga said that
the standards ignore the Ku Klux Klan in Texas, Texas Rangers “killing Mexican-Americans without justification” and the U.S. Army's role in the attempted extermination of American Indians.
The Democrats' position illustrates two important points--one political and one epistemological.

The battle over educational standards illustrates an inevitable result of public education--disparate groups battle to impose their views upon all students within a jurisdiction. The losing side invariably decries the results. Curriculums are to be determined, not by sound educational principles and the choices of parents, but by political agendas.

More significant and revealing is what the Democrats consider important. It would be impossible and pointless to cover every concrete event that has occurred in the history of Texas, let alone America. So they choose those events that they believe concretize the essential nature of America and Texas. To the Left, America and Texas are defined by the KKK, murder, and genocide. To the Left, the failure to teach this in public schools is a fraud.

The politicalization of education would be a non-issue if education were handled entirely by the private sector. Those who wanted to teach Leftist propaganda would be free to do so, and if they could attract enough students they would stay in business. And those who wanted to teach that America was founded on Christian principles would be equally free to offer that service.

I agree with Belanga that a fraud is being perpetrated, and both Leftists and conservatives are guilty parties. Neither group is opposed to forcing their political and social agendas upon the children of Texas, regardless of the views of the parents of those children. If either group really cared about education--as well as the rights of parents and taxpayers--they would advocate for abolishing public education.


Mo said...

i imagine you would need a transition period before completely abolishing them. school vouchers might be a good one but i wonder if there are any others.

Brian Phillips said...

I'm not a huge fan of vouchers. They still involve the government. I'd prefer to see taxes and funding for public schools reduced. This would leave the money directly in the hands of the parents and also provide relief to non-parents.

Yes, it would likely need to be gradual. But it could be done relatively quickly. Cut funding by 20% a year and in 5 years public schools are gone. That would give everyone plenty of time to adjust.