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GOP claims teaching students reasoning will "undermine parental authority" as well

Users on Reddit have dug up a disturbing stand on the Texas Republican Party's state platform [PDF].

I. Texas GOP: Critical Thinking is Bad, Blind Faith Good

The party writes [pg. 12]:

Knowledge-Based Education
We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values
clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

By "fixed beliefs", the GOP clearly means "fundamentalist religious beliefs".  In other words the party is afraid that teaching students to think analytically might disrupt illogical superstitions, such as creation myths, which scientific evidence does not support.

critical thinking
The Texas GOP fears critical thinking will challenge "fixed" (religious) beliefs.
[Image Source: blog.edweek.org] 

In other words, the party thinks that its worth throwing problem-solving skills under the bus (pun intended), as a smart student is a danger to their system of "fixed beliefs".

Now the party is trying to backtrack.  It says that it did not mean to include the words critical thinking skills.  Instead it claims it only opposes higher order thinking skills -- educational programs that encourage students to independently evaluate their faith, cultural, and personal beliefs using logic.

Comments Texas GOP Communications Director Chris Elam to Talking Points Memo, "[The chairman of the Education Subcommittee] indicated that it was an oversight of the committee, that the plank should not have included ‘critical thinking skills’ after ‘values clarification.’  And it was not the intent of the subcommittee to present a plank that would have indicated that the RPT in any way opposed the development of critical thinking skills."

The party did not back down from other controversial planks, though, such as its hateful statements against homosexual Americans:

We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle, in public policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction or belief in traditional values.

Again these principals come back to the state GOP's fundamentalist agenda.

II. Business as Usual for Extremist-Led State

Of course, this isn't the first time that Texas has sacrificed student-learning in the name of preserving their political agenda.  Texas's state curriculum currently leaves out founding father and Declaration of Independence author Thomas Jefferson out of fear of his beliefs in religious equality.  Instead, they replace him with less crucial historic figures like John Locke [source: 1, 2].

Likewise the Texas State Board of Education mandates teaching about the violent Black Panthers fringe group alongside the pacifistic teachings of civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  While the board claims it is not trying to paint civil rights proponents as terrorists, it does not mandate that students also be taught about anti-civil rights terrorist hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

Further, the new curriculum eliminates references to the separation of church as state, which they believe does not exist.  Instead the board, in essence argues that the U.S. was founded as mixed theocracy and republic (though that's not the precise terms they use), much like Iran.

Texas Secessionist
Some have called on Texas to secede from the union in order to push the state politicians' goals of eliminating separation of church and state and other pesky federal mandates.
[Image Source: Sodahead]

Strangely there's some scraps of reason in the Texas Board of Education's curriculum changes.  For example, it's arguably quite fair that they mandate emphasizing Republicans votes in favor of certain civil rights initiatives (but, on the other hand, again, the curriculum stops short of the ideal approach of offering up such information about allt important government votes).  And it's also fair to provide more information on Jefferson Davis, president of the rebellious southern states during the Civil War.

But between erasing important parts of American history, and now pushing to eliminate rational analysis skills education, the conservative leadership in Texas are contributing in a very negative way to America's educational deficit.  At a time when some are calling American students "unemployable" due to their poor problem-solving skills, Texasis certainly not helping matters.

Source: Texas Republican Party





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