Texas: doomed

By Phil Plait | May 21, 2010 10:46 pm

Well, that’s that. Congratulations, Texas State Board of Education and the far-right creationist historical revisionists on it. This outcome is not a surprise, but that doesn’t make it any less infuriating, or any less sad. After all the fighting, all the negative publicity, and all the people — including teachers and educational experts — who showed them clearly why they were wrong, the antireality majority on the BoE did what we knew they would do.

If I were a parent of a school-age child in Texas, I would seriously consider moving to a different state. Because…

Texas: doomed

Tip o’ the ten gallon hat — with, apparently, nothing in it — to Alan Buckingham.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Piece of mind, Politics

Comments (106)

  1. Joe

    As a political conservative this is truly embarrassing to me… Forgive me for making a libertarian plug here, but this is yet another reason why government should not be in charge of the education system, hehe.

  2. Hasty

    @Joe The government isn’t supposed to favor theological education.

  3. Brad

    As a Texan this is incredibly embarrassing. If I ever have children they will definitely be homeschooled (or perhaps find a good non-religious private school, if such a thing ever comes to fruition).

  4. The good news is that state won’t have money to pay for those textbooks for another 4 or 5 years. They are delaying buying the science text books too. Maybe they can get the legislature to change the way they decide on education standards before these standards take effect.

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/politics/state/stories/DN-textbook_19tex.ART.State.Edition1.49ada5e.html

  5. Joe

    Completely agree. If the government didn’t have a say in education, it wouldn’t matter though.

  6. Steve

    @Joe I’m confused. From a libertarian perspective, how would we go about determining curriculum? Most countries use national standards set forth by a governing body. How would you change this, and how would you keep socio-religious biases out of the process?

  7. Joe

    The simple answer is that if a school is doing something ridiculous that its consumers don’t like, without government restrictions parents could just send their kids to another school, which in an ideal market would be competing with other schools, keeping the quality of education high. In my opinion governing standards would be obsolete and unnecessary in such a market. Sorry if that’s a terrible answer but it’s very late here and my critical thinking and language skills are somewhat low right now, lol.

  8. Your Name Here

    Well, at least the people are (slightly) sensible:

    http://msnbc.newsvine.com/_question/2010/05/18/4300789-what-do-you-think-of-the-new-social-studies-standards-being-considered-by-the-texas-school-board

    The really scary part? The 39.1% of people who think it’s a GOOD idea.

    If I ever move to America (although that’s looking VERY unlikely right now), I’m not moving to Texas. Period.

    Love the comments from the sensible people, though.

  9. denstar

    But the problem is, plenty of consumers would like “something ridiculous”.

    We’re more than willing to pay for our doom.

    And ultimately:

    competition != consumer always wins

  10. AR

    Steve: From a libertarian perspective, how would we go about determining curriculum?

    “We” wouldn’t. That’s the entire point. Individual schools would, who would in turn be beholden to the parents or charitable sponsors who finance them. Presumably, private schools are where you’d want to start looking to see what fully private education would look like.

    Certainly, curricula like the one described in the original post would still exist, but now they wouldn’t be mandatory. People would no longer have to pay for such things if they didn’t want to, and could send their children to schools with a stronger pro-reality bias, without still having to pay for the public option.

    Despite my own strong opinions on evolution, religion, and history, I would not find it desirable to impose my ideal form of education on the public, even if I could. As Milton Friedman said, when asked what he would do if he were dictator for a day, “I don’t like dictators…. If we can’t persuade the public that it’s desirable to do these things, we have no right to impose them even if we had the power to do it.”

  11. Steve said: “From a libertarian perspective, how would we go about determining curriculum?”

    In my UK youth the curriculum was, de facto, set by the entrance requirements of the major Universities

  12. Dionigi

    If the parents in texas decided what their kids education would be you would have creationism and no other school to choose. The vast majority wanting a school to parrot their own religious views.

  13. No. The problem isn’t government. The problem is stupid people who WANT their children educated thus way.

    Of course they think this because they were educated this way. Until we break the cycle of willful ignorance, this will just continue.

  14. Another disconcerting story for this week! I saw this covered on the news last night. I couldn’t believe some of the utter craziness being spoken at that meeting and how most of the board members seemed to just go on along. Being that Texas is such a large state, if any textbooks have to change to be Texas-compliant now, won’t some of these changes affect students outside of Texas that happen to use the same textbooks?

  15. NonJoe

    @Joe,

    Let’s put a liitle scrutiny to your idea.

    Let us see. No government control of the educational system.

    Invariably some people control schools in a libertarian Utopia.

    Picture some individuals holding anti-science ideological views amongst those people. What would happen in Libertarian Utopia.

    Ergo: the government ain’t the problem. It’s stupid people having a say in schools’ curricula that’s the proble,

    Your argument hinges on a Logical Fallacy: Government intervention X is bad, therefore all gov intervention is bad. Your plug is therefore stupid. Thank you for displaying your stupidity in full public view. You are stupid, if not dumb as a rock. And your ideology is as well. All ideologies are dirt dumb stupid. Whether it’s Marxism or libertarianism or whatever. Since an ideology is by definition detached from reality.

  16. Albert Bakker

    Anyone knows how much home schooled “libertarian” children are taught evolution the right way? From where I stand a reality based education doesn’t seem to be very much of a priority in these “enlightened” circles: http://rawstory.com/2010/03/top-homeschool-texts-dismiss-evolution/

  17. The problem with allowing the market to decide is that people are not generally qualified to decide what is worth teaching. This is seen in the US system of school boards. Truth isn’t decided democratically anymore than we could vote gravity out of existence. Curricula should be set by experts , appointed because of their specialized knowledge, and their decisions reviewed by peers. Would you buy a computer based on the opinion of a bunch of friends, or would you instead seek out the advice of a computer expert?

  18. If major employers started telling Texans, “You obviously don’t have the schooling you need to work here”, how long would it take for them to fix their curriculum?
    I suppose that’s what it would take. Massive backlash from blacklisted applicants whose resumes were summarily shredded just because they were from Texas.

  19. YetAnotherMike

    None of the bizarre things that they will teach matter at all to workday life for most people. Most of us are unaffected by our beliefs in evolution (or not) or our opinions about some historical events. Our beliefs and opinions on those matters don’t really interact with external reality. When we start to believe things that are untrue and that have real physical consequences, we are quickly persuaded to revise our beliefs or suffer the consequences. I no longer believe that I can fly without airplanes, for example.

    It really is about authoritarianism and imposing/indoctrinating a particular Evangelical Christian worldview/culture on the schoolchildren.

  20. Zucchi

    They even rejected the use of C.E. and B.C.E.! Haven’t those been standard for decades?

  21. DrFlimmer

    This looks so ridiculous from my European point of view.

    But one sentence jumps into my mind: History is written by the winners!

  22. Chief

    I first read about this on CNN and it was announced in a kind of round about way. Almost as an bottom of page 50 article with no real indepth followup of the consequences. I am glad that Phil and the rest of the sighted have been able to explain the real impact and what is really behind the odd terminology being used by the board in the state of texas.

    Now if they want to teach the “other” theories. How about de-evolution, as it sure seems to be working within that group.

  23. Kaptain K

    This makes me sad to be a Texan. :(

  24. Pat the riot

    College students danced in the streets down South when Kennedy was assasinated. Their children panel these revisionist school boards, I get that. What I won’t accept is that I have to choke on their bile in my blue state. The educational role of communities in childrens lives can’t be overshadowed by venom spewed in a Tex’d book. Go Hawks!!

  25. peer

    I m with Dr. Flimmer: Form a European perspective thats simple … weird. But forgive an European for that question: Dont you have a seperation between church and School curicculum?
    I mean, here the legal experts are fighting over the questions if crosses should be allowed in School and in the US its allowed to have a Creationist Curriculum?

  26. fred edison

    I can’t wait for our kids to learn a more “personalized” form of education, such as what the Texas State Doomed Board of Miseducation has lent their religious and political beliefs to. (dramatic facepalm)

    What a frakkin’ joke those people are. An embarrassment, no less. They’ve clearly lost touch with reality but are in touch with their overinflated egos and personal belief agendas. They don’t care about teaching kids the correct things and in the correct ways. They have no concept about the critical importance of an _impartial education._

    Holy crap.

    For the guy who thought that Phil and the gang were making too much of nothing when talking about the Texas State Doomed Board of Miseducation and their reprehensible mishandling of their duties, I have this to say to you. You Fail.

  27. Sharku

    So tell me, libertarians, what market forces prevent any one company (or school in this case) from becoming a monopoly? What prevents schools from adopting a fast food style business model (i.e. the lowest quality of education at the highest price they can get away with)? If schools were allowed to mix and match their curricula according to their own likes, what value does a degree have when a student leaves that school system and goes looking for a job? How does a prospective employer know that a student with a degree from school A will have similar (of course there will and should always be differences in focus between different schools) knowledge and skills as a student who graduated with the same degree from school B?

    I’ve asked these kinds of questions before from libertarians, in the health care debate to be specific, and the answer always boiled down to “sub par health care providers/schools will eventually go out of business, meanwhile it sucks to be you if you’re stuck with one of the sub par ones”. Quite frankly, I don’t think that’s nearly good enough, and it’ll suck big time to be anyone who lives in a society where an entire generation of employables, potential employables with lots of (re)training and outright unemployables starts flooding the job market. It’ll make the economic problems of the last two years or so seem like a breeze.

  28. James H

    No Phil I’m going to keep teaching in Texas. I won’t teach what they have put in there; they never check, and have never been in the classroom to see what is taught. They have no teeth, no enforcement. I shall subvert from within.
    Man, anarchy feels good! Come to the dark side with me, all you Texas teachers! We have cookies! They can’t resist..

  29. The problem with the whole “let the market do it” mentality, is that it assumes this sort of nonsense is not appealing to a large number of ignorant — yes, ignorant — people, people who would be perfectly happy “educating” their children in this fashion.

    But we as a society can’t afford that. I don’t want future generations of decision makers to be so intellectually retarded they can’t distinguish fantasy from reality. I don’t want those people designing the bridges I drive across, or the airplanes I fly in, or the meatpacking plants that process my food. I don’t want them writing or enforcing laws, or sending soldiers off to war.

    Public education began with the principle that a solid education for all citizens was good for the country as a whole. When you take away that broader perspective, and turn the process around so that it is instead about individual rights, you miss the whole point of public education and the benefits it presents to the nation’s future.

  30. “which in an ideal market”

    This is where libertarian ideas fail. It makes several assumptions about human nature that are simply false, and economics is all about human behavior. Communism has the same problem.

    Furthermore, I don’t see how libertarianism would even matter in this case. Unregulated markets tend toward monopolies, so eventually there’d be several huge education markets making demands that affect other, smaller ones. That’s the situation we have now with Texas, so what changes?

  31. This is where I would propose a dictatorship, with Dr. Phil Plait in charge of US education for life!

  32. Utakata

    I’m not sure what is more horrid: Texas State Board of Education current disposition or Joe’s answer to fix it. Insane ideas will only begat more insanity.

  33. I would go so far as to suggest that the Texas State Board of Education as currently constituted represents a clear and present danger to the United States as it will negatively impact on the capacity of at least one state – and possibly others, to provide a generation of educated and scientifically literate citizens at a time when just such a cohort is required to ensure that the United States can compete economically and militarily in a complex and much more scientifically literate global environment.

    Somewhere in there I should have had at least one full stop but it all arrived in a rush. . .

  34. Benjamen Johnson

    One change for the positive did catch my eye:

    … required that the U.S. government be referred to as a “constitutional republic,” rather than “democratic.”

    I’ve always thought that calling the US a Democracy was at best a misrepresentation.
    The rest is pretty much rubbish though.

  35. Autumn

    Actually, with or without the particular involvements of local and state governments, the sorry state of the textbook industry is a perfect example of what the free market will tend to do: efficiency means one or two of the largest markets setting standards for all.
    Windows became a huge success because the market depends on people making choices that are convienient, not intelligent.

  36. Joe

    @dave from manchester #11:

    That’s fascinating. I had no idea. I’ll be reading up on that, rest assured. Thanks for the factoid.

    @17 Concernedcitizen:

    “people are not generally qualified to decide what is worth teaching”

    Isn’t government made up of people? Look what the “experts” decided to teach in classrooms!

    @everyone else who is basically saying that people can’t be trusted with their own education:

    This is all hypothetical of course, but you REALLY think that if given a choice between two schools, parents would choose the biased and unqualified version?

    @school monopoly argument:

    This is a straw man that stems from an utter economic ignorance, courtesy of our wonderful and stupendous government-run education system. The idea that all businesses will automatically revert to a fast-food model, if true, would mean that our computers, entertainment media, coffee, musical instruments, etc. are all the lowest quality goods that can be produced. We all know this isn’t true. So what makes you think education would be this way?

  37. Joe

    @Autumn:

    You just brought up two classic examples of false monopoly: the textbook industry is an oligopoly unequivocally supported by government textbook standards. These standards make it too costly for new suppliers to enter the market, firmly entrenching the existing suppliers and allowing them to control market prices, as any of us who has ever bought a textbook knows full well.

    I realize this might seem like a bad argument right now, but Windows was never even allowed to fail before Hillary & Co. came and broke them up. Monopolies like the one Windows had are never, ever sustainable. Name one monopoly that has ever existed without government support for an extended period of time. There aren’t many examples, and Windows certainly wasn’t going to be one.

  38. Bad Albert

    Libertarianism does not mean NO government. It means minimal government. We need it to look after basic services one of which, I’m sure most people would agree, is education.

  39. Joe

    I and most libertarians do NOT agree. The basic services are:

    Defense and Foreign Affairs
    Domestic peace
    Judicial system through which citizens can resolve their disputes and define personal property
    Lawmaking

  40. Brian

    I am a Texan and parent of an almost 2 year old. With any luck things will change before she is affected – though I admit that is unlikely. All I can hope to do is be as involved as possible in her education and do my best to recognize and correct errors I see.

  41. Leigh Johnson

    I am a Texan and due to the fact that I am barely getting by right now with no equity to speak of in my current house, I have neither the ability to move elsewhere nor the salary to afford anything but a public education for my child.

    It easy for people to say “move to another state” or “home-school your child” or “send the kid to private school” but that is simply not an option for me.

    My child must go to public schools and, since we have decided collectively as a society that education is a right, not a privilege, she is entitled to a solid education. That means the curriculum she is taught should be what educators, scholars, and professionals IN THE APPROPRIATE FIELD OF STUDY have collaborated to build. Ignorant troglodytes who have an axe to grind shouldn’t be deciding these matters.

    I don’t know how we got to this point, but I, for one, will not take it lying down. The Texas Freedom Network does a fantastic job exposing the problems with the current system and I support them in that fight.

    But I now have a child that will been in high school before these standards are revisited. What is a financially-strapped Texan parent supposed to do?

    As for the libertarians out there (excepting Bad Albert, et al)…. if not the US or State or City government, then whom? How else do we collectively fund and manage the education of our children? You want Exxon-Mobil to do it? How about Philip Morris? Smith and Wesson? Do you seriously think that there is a profit in educating those in society who have the least? I would propose that it is not exactly a growth industry.

  42. Utakata

    A society that is ran on unfetted captialism is just as disastrous as on ran of unaccountable government and/or religious interfernce. Again replacing one insane idea with another doesn’t acutally make it better.

    Speaking of which, why is this thread turned into a political sounding board for jaded libertarian ecomic ideology? I thought the post was about the disaster cake known as the Texas State Board of Education being hijacked by silly religious interests.

    Also note: I don’t keep bringing my ideology (trust me, it’s pretty hard left) into this blog, please stop bringing yours. I’m sure there are other blogs that are more suited for that.

  43. JerryP

    I think all of this discussion about Libertarianism, governmental power, or even societal ignorance misses the point. Now, posters on the same side of the argument are bickering over pedantic details.

    Very simply, I believe that education begins in the home. This unfortunate news from Texas should be a wake up call for parents to get more involved in their kid’s education. In the extreme, it could mean changing schools or even home-schooling, but more simplified, we just need to monitor our kid’s homework and actually discuss what they’ve learned from the day’s lessons. I’ve found that just asking my son if he learned anything interesting on any particular day is enough to begin a thoughtful discussion. The creationists who insist on imposing their faith on the rest of us will never accept our scientific point of view, so why fight this war on their terms? They may have infiltrated our schools, but they’ll NEVER get through my front door.

    Quite honestly, if my son has to fail every test because he values the scientific method over biblical references, then so be it. I’d much rather deal with those complications than raise an ignoramus.

  44. TPhillips

    Well, I’ve never been more ashamed to be from Texas.
    Truly a sad day

  45. DrFlimmer

    @ peer

    Yes, that’s true.

    Interestingly, in Germany we have normal “religion” classes (or if you don’t want to attend them you can chose philosophy). However, in these “religion” classes one talks about everything (and I mean it literally) concerning any form of religion and even “non”religion. The discussions are really open and in no way controlled by doctrine. As a pupil you learn all about the three large monotheistic religions, but also about several other, say, cultures. It’s about tolerance, understanding and criticism.

    I guess, this could even be something for our American fellows.

    P.S.: AFAIK, our scientific courses (divided normally into physics, chemistry and biology) are free of any creationism. This is not even a small topic in the society, here. Thank god, so to speak.

  46. Leigh Johnson

    @JerryP: You’re right about being involved – and I will always monitor what comes home with my child and discuss the material being taught. But that doesn’t absolve the school system from being responsible, as well.

    Despite what the far-right faction on the Texas SBOE believes, we have a secular US Constitution and that demands secular public education. I would also like it to be non-partisan and scholarly – but the Constitution doesn’t exactly spell that out.

    And so we continue to fight…..

  47. Daffy

    This is chilling. Pravda before the fall of the Soviet Union would do this kind of historical revisionism (Trotsky? Who dat?). Republicans carrying on the legacy of communists; ya gotta love it, right?

  48. Timmy

    Move because of idiots ???????? NEVER ! GO DOWN SWINGING IF YOU HAVE TO !!!!
    And all those other Texans using the word shame,,,,,,BS. Every state has stupid people, they are everywhere (yes even Colorado). The tool is to use Texas high school accrediation as a denial point for college entrance.

  49. JohnF

    I find it somewhat ironic that you linked to an article dripping with bias that decries an effort to insert political bias into history books.

    Why bother changing the history books when you can do it real-time in the news? Most likely these news stories will be the basis of future history books.

    If anyone here thinks that ANY history book isn’t slanted, they are grievously mistaken. This isn’t some new tragedy, it’s just a shift of the bias in these books from one end of the political spectrum to the other. It will all balance out once you factor in the left bias of the actual teachers. Have any of you seen a textbook lately? I was pretty shocked at my kid’s textbooks and the presumptions it was making on all sorts of issues. Anything that happened in Texas isn’t about shifting the books from a neutral to conservative bias. It is shifting from a liberal to slightly less liberal bias.

    One of the greatest affronts to science/history education, IMO, is the watering down of it by the implications that everything is so black and white, and dismissing any controversy or diversity of opinion on certain topics. For example in Neil deGrasse’s excellent book “Death by Black Hole” he talks about how reasonable it might have been, even without religious motivations, to assume that the Earth was at the center of the universe based purely on empirical data. However, most of us have this image from school that before Copernicus pulled a “The emperor has no clothes” stunt on the Catholic Church.

    And now we have Al Gore running around screaming that AGW is “Settled science” and “the time for debate is over.” Where is the modern day Copernicus when you need him to remind us to question things even in the face of a consensus.

    Ultimately I’m with Joe on this one. When education is a monolithic Government entity, a political group has too much opportunity to inject dogma, propaganda, or whatever into the curriculum and consequently the consciousness of the next generation. That is a powerful tool. I’d prefer a decentralized system, possibly privatization, of the education system. In this case it would likely have localized the effects of those with an Agenda.

  50. Pieter Kok

    Libertarianism in education will get you exactly this: Majority Misconception Rules. But at community levels rather than state levels. In any case, the damage is just as large in terms of the number of badly educated individuals.

    In areas as complex as science education (and history, and literature) you need experts to determine what is the current accepted view. It may have been possible to leave it to the citizenry three hundred years ago, but nowadays it is just silly. Add the sustained campaign of misinformation by sources such as Fox News, and the last thing you want is to go libertarian on this.

    Joe, you should really read comments 27, 29, and 30 properly. They sum up perfectly why you are wrong. But you know that already, because you chose not to engage with their arguments.

  51. @ Joe:

    This is all hypothetical of course, but you REALLY think that if given a choice between two schools, parents would choose the biased and unqualified version?

    The answer to that question, Joe, is that the people who would choose that direction would not see them as biased and unqualified. To the contrary, as the idiots on the Texas BOE have shown, to them, this is “fair and balanced”™.

  52. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE

     
    Texas: SNAFU!
     

  53. JohnF (#49): So you think that reality has an anti-right-wing bias? Thank you for confirming exactly why I make this fight. It’s completely clear to anyone who understands reality that what the Texas BoE is doing is revisionist, wrong, and really simply lying. They are twisting reality to meet their own prejudices, and violating the spirit if not the letter of the Constitution to do it.

    Trying to make this a “he said/she said” argument is nothing short of manipulation, since what’s actually going on is a “reality/fantasy” argument. One is correct, the other is not. Reality is not a matter of opinion.

  54. Timmy

    52. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE Says:

    My goodness, that was creative and smart.

  55. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE

    @Timmy,

    Thanks! I just wish I had got here earlier!

  56. disgruntled with the idiots

    You know folks, it’s kinda funny that these faux libertarians and tea party schlubs are screeching “down with gubmint!” And making it their rallying cry to get elected INTO gubmint so they can… tadah!!! use gubmint to mpose idiot standards like the ones the people in Texas have just passed.

    Religionists, creationist, and knuckle-dragging reality deniers like the ones in Texas do the same thing… screech about how gubmint is imposing (gasp!) secular standards. So, what do they do? Get into gubmint so they can impose their narrow, hate-based religious standards on everybody.

    Kinda funny, that. Hypocritical, too.

    Can we now start complaining about the nonsecular gubmint folks who want to shove religion and other lies down our throats?

    If I had kids, I’d make sure they weren’t educated to the very low (gutter) standards now on display in Texas. If I were looking to hire someone, I’d think twice about hiring anybody raised in the Texas “culture”.

  57. Grand Lunar

    From the article, one that speaks against the change (I assume this) puts it best:

    -”They have ignored historians and teachers, allowing ideological activists to push the culture war further into our classrooms,” said Rep. Mike Villareal, a Democrat. “They fail to understand that we don’t want liberal textbooks or conservative textbooks. We want excellent textbooks, written by historians instead of activists.”

    I hope that other states do not embarass themselve by adopting Texas’s revisions.

    Isn’t there something that can be done to put an end to such nonsense and get educators back to actually educating?

    The way I see it, if we keep playing this game that those that sought this revision, we will see the decline of the US as a first world nation and relive the Dark Ages.

  58. John Matthews

    List me as another proud Texan that is a just a little less proud now. What they have done is quite shameful and embarrassing. And made the stereotypical ignorant Texan a little more likely.

    What they did will affect the educational integrity of our schools and all those future children. I do hope corporations DO start rejecting moving here, citing actions like what the so-called board of education just pulled as a reason.

    First off, don’t blame all of the people of Texas for this idiocy, just the ones that stupid enough to vote in and/or appoint those that have done this to us.

    As someone else said above, history should be about what happened, warts and all. Not some person’s personal idea on what happened. Ideology doesn’t belong in what we teach our kids. Facts and honest assessments about history (and all other subjects) do.

    The same with science, teach SCIENCE in the schools, not some watered-down or even blatantly false nonsense pushed by (apparently) ignorant and uneducated fools. Don’t start making up “controversies” about accepted facts (or at least as close as you can get a scientist to saying is a fact), like global warming, or the age of the earth, or how life has evolved, or even how the universe formed.

    The sad thing is groups and committees of educators were polled and asked to do research and reports and provide all sorts of supporting documentation for what should and should not be changed/added/deleted from the texts. Then all (or at least a lot of) of that (hopefully) good information was flushed in favor of political and theological biases and just plain ignorance. It’s more than sad when someone responsible for a child’s education has to be shamed into putting Thomas Jefferson (of all people) back into a discussion that he is more than relevant to.

    And what sane person would want to be seen as defending someone like Joe McCarthy? I guess they’re trying to teach our kids that having their constitutional rights trampled is a good thing….

    And not using BCE and CE is just plain stupid. It’s about time we Texans entered the 18th century on some things…

    I thank God my child is through with school, though I feel a great sadness for her future (if any) offspring, should she/they stay here.

  59. SLC

    Re AR @ #10

    As Milton Friedman said, when asked what he would do if he were dictator for a day, “I don’t like dictators…. If we can’t persuade the public that it’s desirable to do these things, we have no right to impose them even if we had the power to do it.”

    That the same Milton Friedman who took money from dictator Pinochet of Chile for advice he gave the latter on economics?

  60. This business of ‘constitutional republic’ versus ‘democratic’ is pure partisan hackery, right? Because one party contains the word ‘republic’ and the other contains the word ‘democratic’, they hope that if they plant these words into children’s minds, and make sure no whisper of critical thinking gets into their education, then they will be correctly programmed when they go to the ballot box.

    I don’t think it’ll work, kids being what they are, but it’s a nice try.

  61. AR

    @NonJoe

    But don’t you also have an ideology? I believe it’s usually called “utilitarianism.”

  62. Andrew

    It’s a good thing that private and home schools in Texas aren’t required to follow state curriculum guidelines or take state accountability tests. If you’re in Texas and truly worked up over this, put your kid in private school or home school. If you can’t afford it, here’s an idea: TALK TO THEM ABOUT WHAT THEY LEARN IN SCHOOL AND CORRECT ANY MISINFORMATION. I’m a teacher and in my experience most students take what their parents say over what a teacher says.

  63. AR

    Even a lot of the people speaking against government schooling are largely missing the point if they say that the market would prevent this kind of curriculum. I’d guess that if schooling were privatized in Texas, the majority of schools would be like this, because that’s the sort of schooling that has majority support.

    The benefit of privatization would be that not all schools would be like this, allowing the minority the freedom to attend schools more in line with their beliefs. A lot of people are unsympathetic to this argument when they’re the ones in the majority, but now the shoe is on the other foot.

  64. Kitty

    As much as I agree that they are indeed the unreality crowd, it is delusional to imagine that anything less than 80% of the country is painfully and disgustingly religious.

  65. Blizno

    1. Joe Says:
    “As a political conservative this is truly embarrassing to me… Forgive me for making a libertarian plug here, but this is yet another reason why government should not be in charge of the education system, hehe.”

    I apologize if this has already been said but I haven’t the time to read through all of the many responses.
    Joe, this is exactly why we need a strong federal government that sets education standards. If each state is left on its own, the craziest states, such as Texas, will do terrible harm to their children in the name of (insert religious sect here).

    The argument for a weak or nonexistent federal government is always to give states more control. That is a bad thing! The handful of crazy states must be prevented from forcing their flavor of crazy on future generations. The entire union stands or falls on the behavior of all states. None may be permitted to instruct madness as if it is reality.

  66. @34. Benjamen Johnson

    Sadly the way they arrived at that decision had nothing to do with a dictionary. Instead they said, “Democracy sounds too much like Democrat. How do we make it sound like Republican?” :|

  67. PeteC

    The problem with libertarian education is related to the problem of libertarianism itself – and it’s the same problem with communism, socialism, dictatorships, perfect democracies, monarchies and so on.

    It assumes that things go according to the textbook; that people are perfect; that the usual snafus of the world don’t happen.

    Communism is a wonderful, fair, decent honest system, as long as you only have perfect, decent, fair, honest people. In reality, people aren’t like that, so communism doesn’t work.

    Libertarianism has the same problem. The theory of market forces, massive charitable giving, the invisible perfect self-balancing incredibly wise hand of the unfettered market is just a theory, and not one backed up by any kind of evidence at all. The assumption is that the system works perfectly and without abuse. People don’t cheat, because it just isn’t fair! No company in a dominant position would use physical force or the threat of it to force out a smaller competitor with a better product, because it just isn’t done. The sytem works perfectly.

    In the case of education, what about the following scenarios?

    A heavily religious area has a significant fraction – say 30% – of the populace belonging to a particular sect. They buy out all the schools in the area, and convert them to religious schools. The other 70% of the populace is poorer and factionalised, and is unable to make a united stand to start separate schools, due to lack of money and lack of unity, not to mention the fact that it takes time to open a school, write a curriculum, provide textbooks etc. Religious programming for all!

    McDonalds buys out all the schools in your county. McEducation for all.

    A Chinese multinational company buys out all the schools in your state. The curriculum is massively changed, to match the Chinese government’s party line.

    Enough people in a low education area such as a poorer inner city save their money and don’t bother to send their children to school – hey, it’s expensive! Those who would like to, face the problem that the schools no longer have a high enough customer base to be profitable enough to have a decent ROI, and are therefore closed and the resources moved to other business ventures. Hello uneducated ghetto.

    Of course, one can attempt to prevent people abusing the system. The citizen body can elect or appoint people – let’s call them a “government” – to set standards, enforce rules and regulation, make laws and try to prevent abuses. It doesn’t always work perfectly, and arguing where the line of personal liberty against collective security lies is totally valid, but it’s better than just hoping people play fair and it all works out.

  68. Jeffersonian

    The weird thing is that the defenders of the board are saying that they are heading for a “conservative” direction now, after decades of liberal interjection. In what way is truth/education “conservative”? Is it not obvious that “conservative” in Texas means “evangelical xtian”? Logically, factual truth should be caled conservative. Hence culture war, I suppose.

  69. jcm

    Texan students aren’t the only who are screwed. We’re all f***ed.

  70. Jeffersonian

    Another problem with a pure Libertarian education system:
    a)Outside of metro areas, there would be no profit incentive for a school ( as we know them) to even exist. Low profit and no cometition would attract no qualified teachers. You’d end up with a one-room school run by your neighbor’s teenage daughter.

    b)The price would make certain segments decide against education. This lack of money-injection would prevent the opening of competitive schools. Quickly, education would become a sign of the uppermost class. Society would fall back a century; crime rampant. Imagine if the only choices for yr college education were Ivy League/Stanford/MIT/Cal-Poly etc. and what tuition would cost and then apply that to grade school.

    Not that it matters, since there’s no such thing as pure economic Libertarianism. It’s just an exercise.

  71. Hammerfist19

    Well, it seems hypocrisy runs amok on this discussion. A multitude of slanderous comments have been left by people who have not educated themselves to their opponents viewpoint or sought to logically deduce if truth is found outside of their own understanding of a particular issue. What a shame.

    Let me dive in to try and answer some of the major points many have brought up about a “libertarian” answer to education.

    First, let us assume that a K-12 education is essential to civilization (an assumption not shared by history, but I digress). Second, let us, for the sake of argument, all agree that education should be readily available, cost-efficient, relatively efficient (as in cost per student), and of decent quality (as in successful test averages among students). Third, let us examine our track record on meeting these objectives in the United States. Not a single one of these goals, except availability, have we met through interventionism on the part of a central power. True, there are exceptions, and I’m sure everyone here is part of that exception, among public schools in this country. However, even the Department of Education has to admit in their reports every year to congress that public schools have become more expensive, less efficient, and educational standards have plummeted on the average since the Federal government became involved.

    In an ideally free society, one most of the founders of the Articles of Confederation envisioned, co-operation would be the rule, not the exception. Coercive force was seen as evil, and when wielded by the arm of the state, tyrannical.

    With this in mind, many on this forum have lambasted @joe’s original statement unfairly, and in the heinous manner of Nonjoe’s statement, even with vitriolic idiocy.

    Let me explain why Nonjoe is wrong, in every logical way. What are government’s comprised of? People. By his own logic, people are too “ignorant” to govern themselves and choose for themselves what is best for their children. However, he believes people can successfully govern other people through the coercive force of government. It seems @joe is not the one whose logic seems absurd.

    However, some have raised other objections that seem plausible. That is, until you deduce the logic behind the objections. Would not a liberating of the educational system be disastrous to society? Would not huge corporations create “Wal-Ed” type of institutions? Yes, they would. In today’s society, that is what would happen. However, the reason it would happen is because historically monopolies cannot successfully last without the aid of, you guessed it, government. Eminent domain, regulations, subsidies, corporate taxes, union wage laws; all these are tools used by bureaucrats to destroy competition in the marketplace and form vast corporate empires, many of which exist today because of this intervention. In a free society, personal choice is king, and businesses, educators, and politicians are subservient to it. We do not have a fraction of the freedom of pre-Civil War America.

  72. Hammerfist19

    A realistic step in the right direction would be the issuance of government vouchers, as in many European countries, to parents for private use in educational purposes. Of course, the best form would be vouchers with no strings attached so parents could choose to spend the voucher on any form of education desired. Whether that be a creationist viewpoint or a secular, atheistic viewpoint. A Hindu viewpoint or a Buddhist viewpoint. The idea of freedom of education is tied up intrinsically with the idea of free speech. Ideas should flow within an unhindered, open marketplace and every individual should educate themselves as to what they believe. Without that freedom, the populace suffers from ignorance. Every free society in history became great because of self-educated individuals, not because of government educated automatons.

  73. AR

    @PeteC

    It assumes that things go according to the textbook; that people are perfect; that the usual snafus of the world don’t happen.

    Wrong. It is entierly consistent with an imperfect world, and in fact a big part of the appeal of libertarianism is based on this fact. There will always be people trying to mess things up, but the less power that exists in centralized hands, the less damage they can do. The recent decision by the Texas school board is a prime example. Like I said, privatizing education would probably result in most schools being like this, but where has your statist education system gotten you? What good has it done to make the Texas curriculum a public affair? Rather than having many religious schools Texas now has nothing BUT religious schools.

    The power to make these kinds of decisions for everybody is not a power that should exist, in anybodies hands. I think this is far more accommodating to human shortcomings than any alternative. You say that people electing a government can stop people from abusing the system but all you have created is an even more powerful system, whose abuse is far more harmful.

    There is also just the idea that you shouldn’t force people to do things.

    As for your examples about buy-outs, you’re not thinking things all the way thru here. Buying an entire school system would require giving the previous owners an entire school system’s worth of money. What’s to stop them from simply using that money to build a new school, hire away the teachers, and opening with their previous curriculum? In all the scenarios you give, this would be far more popular with parents than the replacement, so it’s practically guaranteed to out compete the newcomers, who will have financed the entire thing! The buy outs you describe are basically free money for the “victims.”

  74. Ad Hominid

    @68. Jeffersonian Says:

    “Logically, factual truth should be caled conservative. Hence culture war, I suppose.”

    Quite right, Jeff. The founder of modern conservatism, Barry Goldwater, was an advocate of gay rights and reproductive choice, and an all-round science and technology proto-geek who was fascinated with, and extremely knowledgeable about, such diverse subjects as astronautics, anthropology, and amateur radio.
    He should be rolling over in his grave at the antics of today’s self-styled “conservatives.”

  75. @JohnF,

    in Neil deGrasse’s excellent book “Death by Black Hole” he talks about how reasonable it might have been, even without religious motivations, to assume that the Earth was at the center of the universe based purely on empirical data. However, most of us have this image from school that before Copernicus pulled a “The emperor has no clothes” stunt on the Catholic Church.

    At one point, it might have made sense. The sun/moon/stars rose and fell and the Earth seemed to stay still. But then we started tracking the planets. We found they would move through the sky and charted their orbits, but then they would move backwards and mess up our charts. So the concept of “circles within circles” was introduced. Circles were assumed because circles are perfect and the heavens are perfect like the Bible says. (So they reasoned.) The “moving backwards” was just the planets moving in their circles-within-circles. But it didn’t quite match up so they needed to add more circles.

    Then Copernicus came and put forward the theory that the Earth and planets revolved around the Sun. This was revolutionary and suddenly the circles upon circles weren’t needed anymore. It’s a classic case of the Scientific method at work. A theory that better fit the evidence replaced an older theory that didn’t.

  76. When thinking about the libertarian schools that some people have been talking about here, I’m reminded of two things.

    First, is the telecom situation in the US. If you want high speed Internet access, you have a choice of one or two providers. Some people still don’t even have high speed access. Why? Because it’s just not profitable to go into some areas and the companies that do provide access have formed themselves into monopolies or duopolies. By me the choice is Time Warner Cable or Verizon DSL (FIOS isn’t by me yet). I use TWC. If I grow unhappy with their service, I can switch to Verizon. However, DSL is an older technology and what if I’m not happy with Verizon? I have no third choice.

    Similarly, “business run” schools without any government interference would likely wind up forming duopolies at best and completely leaving some areas unserved at worst.

    Secondly, I’m reminded of the Charter school situation here. Charter schools are schools that are opened and run by businesses. Here, we have a ton of them. They pull money from the government (so they aren’t true libertarian, of course), but they aren’t required to meet the same standards as public schools. For example, here in NY, they grade their own state tests and aren’t audited on the reported results. They have also been known to pick and choose students, kicking students out who might negatively impact their scores and sending them back to the public schools. (Thus raising their scores and lowering the public schools’.)

    All in all, I don’t think government interference in schools is automatically a bad thing. Like anything, it can be used for good purposes (like making sure that every area has a school up to minimum standards) and it can be used for bad purposes (like changing curriculum to suit the political beliefs of certain individuals). The challenge is to keep the good and limit or get rid of the bad, not toss out the good with the bad.

  77. Astrofiend

    Move to Australia – humiliating these sort of clowns is practically a national sport here.

    I must say that I have trouble reconciling the fact that the same country who produced the likes of Feynman, Oppenheimer, Gell-mann, Pauling and so many more also happens to have a population in which the majority seem to be bible-bashing mouth-breathing knuckle draggers. How can you be doing something so right and yet so damn wrong at the exact same time?

    In fact, it all seems eerily familiar to the state of play at the start of Ayn Rands’ classic Atlas Shrugged – a seething mass of morons riding on the coat-tails of society’s finest. Maybe you need to proceed down the same path as was taken in that book…

  78. sneepy

    One more reason not to travel to the gulf states.

  79. and of decent quality (as in successful test averages among students

    Some might say the current obsession with teaching test-taking instead of how to think for oneself is a big part of what is dragging public schools down.

    We do not have a fraction of the freedom of pre-Civil War America.

    We also don’t live in a largely agrarian nation that is not intricately linked, economically and culturally, with the big wide world out there.

    And if, by freedom, you include health, a better chance at wealth and prosperity, and mobility above one’s birth station, then today’s society is indeed incredibly more “free” than pre-civil war America.

  80. Gaiainc

    Hammerfist19 must be a white male for him to think that we don’t have as much freedom now as in pre-Civil War America. If he was African-American, he was not more free then, nor if he was a woman. Seriously. The thing that was more “free” then was for entities to ride roughshod over you. I don’t understand the fascination or the faith that lack of regulation and an unfettered market are such panaceas. I don’t see it. None of the arguments put forth are compelling to me, particularly ones that surmisevthe market would only support good schools. So how do I know it is a good school? It doesn’t make sense to me.

  81. Pieter Kok

    I have a genuine question about home schooling: where do the parents find the time (assuming they have jobs)? Where I come from, education is a full-time job.

  82. Andrew

    Well this is just sad, but its done. Time to get to work to supplement the loss of proper education these kids are going to get. I don’t live in Texas though I like it there, but now I’ll make sure to never raise children there as long as I have the choice.

    For those of you Texans who are appalled by this not just beccause of pride for the great state but because of your love for your children there seems to be few options I can see. If you were to say leave public schooling you would have to deal with the nearly crippling expense of private schooling ( something I know too well myself ) but that seems pretty fruitless as well since most of them are religious based and naturally already follow these new standards ( some better than others ) and if your not religious, you’re just trading one bad thing, for two.

    The best thing to do would be the leave the state. They would no longer receive money you earn from taxes, and therefore you will not be supporting this and it may send a message. but that’s a huge expense as well, though temporary, and requires a large amount of effort and coordination ( like work relocation, school, realty ) that many people won’t be able to do without great sacrifice.

    This is a sad situation for parents raising their children in Texas and honestly I feel the BEST way to combat this is to become more involved in these kinds of dealings and to SUPPLEMENT the education of your children. In other words, more effort to educate your children yourselves while they continue to at least get the basics from the public ed. That way, you make sure you’re children will continue to become educated well even if you have to “weed the garden” of their education so to speak.

    Anyway, this is what I would do given the fact that I can’t just up and leave. Spend even more time with my kids while they are studying their material. After all, the education teaches your children for you, but if they can’t be trusted to do even that, then it’s time for the parent to step in and make sure that their own children at least are raised correctly, and taught properly.

    In other words, for those of us who are disgusted by this we must all make an effort to help our children through this, since after all…they are the ones being educated there…not us, but they still come to our home.

    I hope this helps, for those of you who agree with me anyway. Take care.

  83. Scottynuke

    hammerfist19:

    “First, let us assume that a K-12 education is essential to civilization (an assumption not shared by history, but I digress).”

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    I wasn’t aware that (hammerfist19 = history) was a true statement in English. :)

  84. Texas Teacher

    As an 11th grade history teacher in Texas, I could not be more upset. This has been weighing on my heavily for awhile now. I’ve actually started looking into other jobs as a result (still in teaching, just subjects/schools not directly affected. This is one of several times in my life that I’ve been ashamed to be from Texas.

  85. Gary Ansorge

    3. Brad

    My two eldest children attended a private school in Denton, Texas called the Selwin School. It was exceptional(and non-religious).

    Hopefully, the advent of PCs and the internet will allow book publishers to appropriately modify their offerings to serve everyone as they deserve. If I was a gun toting Texan today, I might very well call these BoE idiots to a “conference” out behind the barn.

    GAry 7

  86. dcurt

    Do you have links to the actual curriculum docs?

    MSNBC is extreme liberal propoganda…they have absolutley no credibility at all.

  87. Sorry, I forgot this howler:

    However, the reason it would happen is because historically monopolies cannot successfully last without the aid of, you guessed it, government.

    Uh. Yeah. And historically, government has had no role in breaking up monopolies, monopolies that the “free” market allowed to prosper.

    What’s that Mr. Rockefeller?

  88. Pi-needles

    @31. Larian LeQuella Says:

    This is where I would propose a dictatorship, with Dr. Phil Plait in charge of US education for life!

    Seconded by me. :-)

  89. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ 76. TechyDad

    At one point, it might have made sense. The sun/moon/stars rose and fell and the Earth seemed to stay still. But then we started tracking the planets. We found they would move through the sky and charted their orbits, but then they would move backwards and mess up our charts. So the concept of “circles within circles” was introduced. Circles were assumed because circles are perfect and the heavens are perfect like the Bible says. (So they reasoned.) The “moving backwards” was just the planets moving in their circles-within-circles. But it didn’t quite match up so they needed to add more circles. Then Copernicus came and put forward the theory that the Earth and planets revolved around the Sun. This was revolutionary and suddenly the circles upon circles weren’t needed anymore.

    Being terribly pedantic here I’m afraid, but (if I recall right), wasn’t it Johannes Kepler who removed the epicycles (circles around circles) and also introduced *elliptical* rather than strictly circular orbits and NOT Copernicus? I think so – & I think Copernicus actually kept epicycles and circular orbits. Not that I really disagree with the main point there.

  90. Markle

    “In an ideal market” is the Libertarian Spherical Cow. Whenever it has been pointed out that Laissez-Faire has already been tried and failed, there’s always some defect, some perversion they will point to as the cause. Absent any real true test, therefore the ideology and the theoretical framework is yet unassailable.

    For some bizarre reason they seem drawn like flies to science blogs.

    If we just turn over society to them everything will be just ducky even though there is not one success to be pointed to. All of a sudden people will make smart market choices. They will disregard existing personal relationships and automatically and perfectly choose maximum utility. Both personal and societal. Even when those ideals are orthogonal or even opposed. Flies will bird and ducks will sing.

  91. PatK

    For all Libertarians of the staunch variety: why Libertarianism and Market Forces fail

    Look at the financial crisis.

    In a pure Libertarian world, the banks would have been allowed to fail. They only got to that point because the market was allowed to run things, you know: that invisible hand that just seems to stroke itself?

    Problem is: Libertarians, at the end of the day, don’t want to see the down side to everyone else besides them having all that freedom. The winners are much larger, sure… but so are the losers. And big winners fall hard. The ugly truth that Libertarians don’t want to see: the reason our auto industry is so arthritic is because once they got big (an ideal state) they wanted to not-change (maintaining the model as it was). Instead of letting them fail, we propped them up. The very people that screamed hands off were the same putting out their hands when the “free market” worked like it was supposed to, and they didn’t like it.

    Libertarian ideals fail because situations change, and a Libertarian on-top doesn’t want to see the reality that they must eventually fall. Market forces mean you, too, can be a colossal loser.

    Nevermind that in a pure Libertarian world their fantasy of self-sufficiency would fail quickly in the face of “how the hell do I make textiles from all of this flax?”

    Get this: our current civilization is the result of cooperation. If you don’t want to cooperate, you’re welcome to leave.

  92. Get this: our current civilization is the result of cooperation. If you don’t want to cooperate, you’re welcome to leave.

    I gather that’s what certain Texans are attempting to do. :P

  93. PeteC

    I still don’t see how a complete lack of government regulation is meant to prevent, rather than encourage abuses.

    Why can’t a monopole form in a libertarian environment? Without government intervention, what prevents a large company enforcing exclusionary contracts? To use an almost-real example, when one is in the position that Microsoft was, what prevents you telling Dell and the others that if they supply Linux then you won’t supply them with Windows, thus destroying 90% of their sales? What stops a big supermarket from selling at a loss until all the local small competitiors are out of business, then jacking up their prices? What stops a large company sending bully-boys around to harass, threaten and even use violence against a smaller company or its customers? What stops the owners of a large company with a strong political or religious agenda from abusing their position? What stops a company from openly discriminating against people of a particular race, sex or religion?

    As for the US being a more free state before the US civil war, I’m uncertain about that. Were there many women CEOs of large companies back then? How many black or female senators were there? How many women on the supreme court? How many black generals, or colonels for that matter? Could a woman born to an asian family expect to be able to excel at university? Could a black man start a business, do well and buy a home in the good part of Atlanta or Birmingham? Heck, for that matter, how much social mobility could a poor white boy born in a poor part of town expect? Some part of me, the cynical part, hears “the US was a much freer society, you could beat your wife and rape your slaves in freedom without a stuffy interventionist government oppressing you by stopping it”.

  94. PeteC

    Actually, a great purely fictional example is the video game Bioshock. A libertarian founds his perfect capitalist society away from the rest of the world – but the moment an upstart newcomer threatens to out-compete and obsolete his businesses, reducing his influence and wealth massively, all of a sudden there are good reasons “for the good of society” and a need for “temporary measures” for security forces to shut down his competitor and arrest him. Libertarians – like people of any particular stripe – are rarely libertarians when it means that *they* will be the ones starving in the gutter.
    Of course, a healthy dose of libertarianism should be included and considered. It’s not a *bad* thing, any more than socialism by itself is a bad thing. In the real world, systems need to not be experiments in social or political theory. What works best is a reality-based approach, attempting to find the balance between the individual and the collective, a balance that itself may need to shift due to circumstance or changing society. Avoid the extremes; extremes are where things tend to easily break.

  95. Stephanie

    Hammerfist 19 said: We do not have a fraction of the freedom of pre-Civil War America.

    By “we” do you mean white, land-owning men? Because women, African-Americans and the poor had pretty much no freedom.

    Are you kidding with this? I guess it depends on how you define freedom. I define it as the ability to vote in elections and the ability to earn enough money to keep myself sheltered, fed and healthy. These were all things that were impossible for a large portion of the population in pre-Civil War times, and especially in colonial times. It is still difficult for a growing portion of the population today.

  96. Chip

    This could eventually lead to reputable institutions in science, medicine, education, universities, businesses, etc., worldwide not hiring graduates in any field from Texas schools. Why not hire mainstream critical thinkers rather than someone whose basic education was compromised or clouded by superstition and propaganda?

    Worse yet, many schools across the country also use textbooks approved by Texas – though that could change.

  97. Dean

    Whatever one may think of the “processes” that led to the current ideological bent of this Board (a whole other can of worms), I find it revolting that they would (1) reject the work of large numbers of qualified specialists who worked long and hard to systematically evaluate and update the curriculum, and (2) cram through large numbers of rushed “modifications” that have not met even the basic test of (academic) peer review… (presumably since they know better than people who are trained and educated specialists in these areas)… (3) then to have the nerve to refer to this as a simple matter of them being elected officials. Since when were they elected as specialists to come up with the curriculum out of whole cloth?

    This is not something that should be “cooked up on the fly” by a group with a socio-political axe to grind.

    We are talking about CHILDREN here, not pawns.

    Oh, I mean the students, to be clear. I’m not so sure about the bullying 10 on the Board.

    I’m not sure whether to say “thank goodness I don’t live in Texas,” or “I wish I lived there so I could help vote in some more rational heads”…!!!

  98. Dean

    @49/JohnF….
    “Why bother changing history books when you can do it real-time in the news? Most likely these news stories will be the basis of future history books.
    If anyone here thinks that ANY history book isn’t slanted, they are grievously mistaken. This isn’t some new tragedy, it’s just a shift of the bias in these books from one end of the political spectrum to the other.” (etc.!)

    Why bother changing history via the transient media when you can do it for years at a whack via real-time amendments in TBOE meetings? Seriously, why bother having any trained historians involved in the first place, just give the Board a bunch of crayons and let them create it from whole cloth…. Oh, wait… Doh!

    The shift here is not from one “end” of the political spectrum to any other, it’s gone off the tracks, and the Board’s current majority has “had their way” in a very serious way with the recommendations of numerous specialists! We are not talking a political shift, but rather a PROCEDURAL “shift” (too mild of a word, I think).

    Yes, all history has political facets (and sometimes “biases”), but we should really have trained historians as the primary voices in setting the curricula in that academic arena, not a bunch of Johnny-Come-Lately political hacks.

    This is not a minor shift in bias, it is a major manipulation of the entire system, and it is transparently for socio-political reasons.

  99. I am soooo glad I spend soooo much time with my kids doing the things that schools are supposed to.

    My kids already know to tell their teachers….”I’ll pass your stupid tests, but I know the REAL answers!”

  100. Doug Little

    It would be interesting if a student would be marked down for arguing a correct but conflicting viewpoint now that the standards have changed. If this happens would they have any legal grounds to bring it to court? Will we end up with another Kitzmiller of sorts.

  101. Ema Nymton

    Amazing.

    Hammerfist, I doff my cap to you.

    That is one spectacular display of stupidity you posted.

  102. Dean

    ^^ What Ema said…. @73/Hammerfist19…. Wow:

    “The idea of freedom of education is tied up intrinsically with the idea of free speech. Ideas should flow within an unhindered, open marketplace and every individual should educate themselves as to what they believe. Without that freedom, the populace suffers from ignorance. Every free society in history became great because of self-educated individuals, not because of government educated automatons.”

    Talk about begging the very question at issue…!! Push “vouchers” (earlier in post 73′s drivel), dress it up as “freedom” but it is still a bunch of hogwash.

    And your earlier post(s) about government bureaucrats crushing Democracy and forcing monopolies upon the country…. Let’s be clear here about what is the horse and what is the wagon, who is “leading” and who is “following”… I believe that in most arenas of any significance, private industry has succeeded in capturing the field and defining the discussions. It is in their profound and IMMEDIATE interests to do so. It is in society’s interest to do so also, of course, but that interest is not immediate, and of course society’s interests are not very well funded in any of these respects.

    Government wants good results in this election cycle, as always… Society’s interests, however, SHOULD be focused many years down the line, with the assumption that the whole system will not be undermined in the near term. It seems more and more like that assumption is turning out to be wrong, thanks to the concerted efforts of various persons playing this new role in the current conflict.

  103. Gonzo

    Completely agree. If the government didn’t have a say in education, it wouldn’t matter though.

    Yes, because corporations and the free market could never be capable of such things. There’s a reason why Libertarian candidates for national office, like the presidency, scarcely garner a few percentage points of the vote in most election cycles. Removing public education isn’t the answer, we’ve all seen how well private industry provides other essential needs (notably health care). Those of us who don’t get our knowledge from the right-wing noise machine (or Ron Paul’s ridiculous screeds – this not even bringing into account his and his son’s obvious racism) realize that not every issue is an either-or equation as libertarians would have us believe. The de-politicization of curriculum choices does not require a dismantling of public education.

    History is written by the winner

    Of course, Texas didn’t win.

  104. Tim

    Give ‘em an inch, and they’ll take a mile! This is just the next phase in the already prevalent evangelical extremist agenda here in Texas. The Board of Education already won a major vitory over the science standards concerning evolution by asking students to consider other ideas outside of evolution, namely Creationism…a.k.a. Intelligent Design (even though this idea lacks scientific evidence or could even be lumped into a category referred to as “science”). And now, this slime-covered Board of zealots have sunk even lower by hijacking the social sciences.

    Worse yet, I’ve read brainless comments from libertarian goons who argue that the government shouldn’t do this and the government shouldn’t do that. Let me tell you something about the people in the state of Texas and their government… A large portion of the people in this state WANT THESE CHANGES, and what’s more, another large portion of the population could care less! The government is simply providing them with what they have bitched and griped about for so long. Take a look at the elected (yes, elected!!!) Board of Education and you’ll see the majority of them are ultra-conservative, evangelical, home-schooling fanatics who believe in their hearts that Texas education requires a change in their own political direction.

    You want some light reading material? Check out one of the major players on the Board!! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia_Dunbar

    These repugnant examples of human beings are not concerned with education from an academic perspective, but rather from an angle of conservative/religious indoctrination that caters to a mindless populace of racist cowboys amongst a crop of superstitious & uneducated Blacks and Latinos thereby making the perfect storm of complete and utter ignorance.

    But, let’s think about this: Concerning “Libertarianism”, responding to the majority of a population who insists they know what’s right about giving their child a conservative education is about as libertarian as you’re going to get. It’s apparently a major state’s right issue in the mind of the uber-Texan to decide what they’re going to teach their child–even if what they’re teaching them isn’t based on scientific or historical facts, let alone grounded in actual reality.

    We can talk state’s rights all day long, we can talk libertarianism until you’re blue in the face, but it doesn’t get around the problem that we’re generating a nation of idiots who are being taught twisted ideas based on political obsessions and crackpot science. You can laugh at Texas all you want to…up until the point where you see this asinine legislation popping up in your own state. This is not just a Texas problem, folks. WAKE UP!

  105. Travis

    To find the silver lining.. At least two of the loons on the SBOE will be gone next term. Don McLeroy (who was the board chair until the state legislature made the governor pick someone else) lost his primary in conservative, mostly rural northeast Texas. And Cynthia Dunbar isn’t running for re-election, but her hand-picked Dunbar-clone successor got trounced (almost 2-1) in his primary runoff against a candidate with serious education credentials. One of the SBOE members even suggested that some of these decisions might be re-visited early next year, after new members are in (I live in Austin and saw this on a local news station, but I don’t remember the name of the board member who said this).

    So, we’re not out of the woods yet, but people notice when education is being messed with, and they don’t like it. The trick is to prevent the extremists from getting elected in the first place, instead of kicking them out after they’ve done their damage.

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