Texas GOP, education still in the grip of medieval Christianity

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Anti-creationism poster. (Silly Divinity, Flickr, public domain)

If you’re still not convinced that the American pre-college school system has for many years consistently rejected down-to-earth critical thinking in favor of supernatural religious assumptions, consider what the Texas GOP actually wrote in its educational platform in 2012.

Entitled “We Believe in America,” the platform offered some eyebrow-raising things about education in the state, which Washington post writer Valerie Strauss in a 2012 article fairly categorized in the “you can’t wear makeup that stuff” department. Title of the article: “Texas GOP Rejects ‘Critical Thinking’ Skills.” Really. ”For example, the GOP platform proclaimed:

“Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher-Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (Values ​​Clarification), Critical Thinking Skills and similar programs which are simply a relabel of education based Outcomes (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and aim to challenge the student’s entrenched beliefs and undermine parental authority. [see page 20 of the platform]

Another section of the platform trotted the old trope – soon to be declared unconstitutional by a court – that science teachers should be able to teach alternative ‘theories’ in various disciplines, such as the creationist ( that is, the supernatural) in questioning the foundations. of biological evolution. The proposed GOP platform (although evolution is not controversial but rather the basis of the consensus of modern science):

“Controversial theories – We support objective teaching and equal treatment of all aspects of scientific theories. We believe that theories such as the origins of life and environmental change should be taught as questionable scientific theories that may change as new data is produced. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of reprisal or discrimination of any kind.

Oddly, after the educational platform was widely ridiculed, Texas GOP communications director Chris Elam unconvincingly said Discussion Notes that “everything was one big mistake and this opposition to “critical thinking” was not meant to be included. However, he added that it was too difficult to remove the language. I could not find any evidence that this was ever the case. But this year, the Texas legislature is apparently now more inclined to not allow the teaching of “critical race theory” in state public schools, according to the July 16 report published in the Texas Tribune:

On Friday the upper house adopted Senate Bill 3 in an 18-4 vote. The legislation removes an upcoming requirement created by the regular session’s so-called “critical race theory” that students learn that white supremacy is ‘morally wrong.’[bold face mine]

God forbid, children should never learn this. In a 2014 article in the independent online nonprofit journal truth, Danny Weil warned that evangelical creationists are increasingly devious in their methods of instilling faith into the minds of American school children:

“Alternative beliefs such as creationism are now intelligently invited into the curriculum as so-called science or theories to debunk supposedly false notions of the theory of evolution.” But if critical thinking is not to be used in the classroom, how would these beliefs be examined for evidence? Science, the scientific method, critical thinking, and the process of submitting claims to probative experimentation – all related activities – pose a threat to self-proclaimed power and the harbingers of supernaturalism.

(I wrote about the surprising lack of critical thinking programs in American schools in my July 17 article, titled “Trump, Right-Wing Media, Evangelicals Share Guilt in Covid Disaster.”) Discussion Notes, an independent news site “particularly focused on reports of abuse of power and betrayals of public trust,” noted in an article when the GOP platform went public about a decade ago:

“Elsewhere in the document, the platform specifies that”[e]very Republican is responsible for the implementation of this platform.

The intention of the Texas GOP with its educational platform was transparent. True to the authoritarian conservative mindset of the Republican Party, Weil wrote:

“[T]People have to be taught the ideology of what is morally acceptable, the rules and regulations to follow. and more importantly, how to accept and internalize hierarchical authoritarianism. Critical thinking is a direct challenge to “rulers” and their claims to authority, and any opposition to vertical arrangements is ethically unacceptable to those in power. “Reactionaries have long known that putting ignorance and hierarchy in thought and practice into the school curriculum is essential if the control of young minds is to be accomplished quietly and silently but profoundly through propaganda and perception.” management. In the districts of obedience training, “education” has nothing to do with “schooling” under capitalism. “

In other words, the GOP believes that children should learn to not questioning the authority or “wisdom” received from the “authorities”. Instead, retired high school teacher Frank Breslin proposed in a 2015 Huffpost editorial:

“The following warning should be placed on every computer in American schools: Proceed at your own risk. Don’t accept what you are about to read as true. A part is a fact; part is an opinion disguised as fact; and the rest is liberal, conservative, or mainstream propaganda. Make sure you know who is what before you choose to believe it.

Breslin added:

“Teachers constantly warn students against taking what they read at face value, as some of these sites can be propaganda mills or recruiting grounds for the naive and reckless. Not only can the blatant forms of indoctrination target unsuspecting young minds, but also the more artfully artificial variety, whose insinuating subtlety of soft selling and silky lures weave their charm to rock the gullible into accepting their wares. . “To prevent this from happening, every school in America should teach the arts of critical thinking and critical reading, so that a critical mind becomes a lifelong possession of every student and permeates the teaching of every course in America. . It would be time well spent protecting students from the contagion of toxins online or offline. “While ensuring the physical safety of students is a school’s top priority, the school should be no less vigilant in protecting them from the propaganda that will assault them for the rest of their lives. Caveat emptor!

Sound advice, which doesn’t seem to have been widely adopted in America over the past decade, especially the past five years. Oh, and the Texas GOP in 2012 also pointed out that teachers should be able to hit students again for punishment. They might as well beat their bodies while strangling their minds, right? The GOP, which has long described itself as a proponent of autonomy, does not seem to have changed much since 2012. This statement in the last two lines of the preamble of the 2021 Texas Republican Party platform, which follows the priorities national GOP, reveals its fundamentalist Christian mindset:

Every time we sing “God Bless America” ​​we ask for help. We ask for divine help so that our country can keep its promise.

Unfortunately for the Texans, no “help” is likely to come from above. Their leaders should look down, not up, for answers.


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