Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Rearranging Education's Deck Chairs

Few Texans would argue that our public school system is broken. And, while there is considerable disagreement over how to fix public education, many do agree that politics should be taken out of the process. Karen Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, joined this chorus in Sunday's Chronicle:
It's time to fix this flawed system and get politics out of our children's classrooms. The state board is clearly unwilling to fix the problem. Last year, however, the Texas Legislature considered bills that would have put primary responsibility for the adoption of curriculum standards and textbooks in the hands of classroom teachers and academic experts. None of those bills passed, but lawmakers should revisit those recommendations in 2011. They must ensure that public schools are focused on just educating our children, not promoting the personal and political agendas of elected state board members.
My first reaction upon reading this was to wonder if Miller had any idea of the contradictory nature of her paragraph. While calling for an end to politics in education, Miller urges the Texas Legislature--a political body--to enact changes toward that end. In other words, she wants a political process to put an end to a political process.

Legislators are no more immune to politics than the members of the State Board of Education. Nor are the teachers and scholars that Miller wants setting the curriculum. So long as any group has the power to impose a curriculum upon Texas schools, politics will be involved. So long as government coercion is used to dictate what students are taught, there will be those who seek to use that power to promote their own ideas and agendas.

Politics will not be removed from education until government is removed from education. Until Miller and her ilk grasp this fact, they are simply asking for the deck chairs on the Titanic to be rearranged.

No comments: