Is Truth Dead? Texas Republicans Aim for the Educational Gut

It’s not enough to claim to “support” education in Texas. We must put up an unprecedented effort to elect people who will fight for education.

-Mary Brown, Candidate for State Representative in District 64 (Denton)

Old textbooks lined up in a row, with a symbolic imprint of Texas stamped across the spines.

Image from truthout.org under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license.

For the past several years, the Texas Republican Party has attempted to swallow our education curriculum and regurgitate a more ideologically pure version of what they call “the truth”. Nothing good comes from rewriting the past so that it positively reflects an ideology, but at this point, many of us have learned to recognize these acts of historical malfeasance.

Thankfully, now that a number of their incumbents on the Texas State Board of Education have lost their positions to more moderate, education-friendly candidates, the Texas GOP’s tenuous grip on the state’s curriculum is loosening. But simply changing history is not enough for some; these ideologues will only be content when all thought conforms to their point of view, and the Texas Republican Party has taken this idea to its logical extreme.

When Texas Republicans held their convention earlier this year and drafted their new platform, it was no surprise that they still included most of their old ideas to “fix” public education. These turgid talking points typically revolve around arbitrary and unproven “solutions” such as increasing the use of corporal punishment in schools, repealing mandatory kindergarten laws, and tightening control over local school districts’ textbook content.

This time, however, they aimed for the gut, and this was the result:

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. [page 12]

While many of us – including most independents and even many Republicans – bemoan the “teaching to the test” mentality that subverts critical thinking, Texas Republican Party leaders are running in the other direction. Mandating that educators avoid teaching critical thinking skills is just one more way for a few people to control not only what the next generation will think, but also how they think and how they apply their thoughts.

Texas GOP officials offer excuses for these kinds of positions, but they never offer any real support for the public education system they gutted during the last legislative session. Regardless of political affiliation, Texans must rally to elect candidates who will support our public education system properly. Real support, however, means working hard to properly fund our schools and implementing practical solutions, not redefining “truth” to protect our personal views.

Jul 20, 2012 1 Comment ››

  • Gail Rutledge

    Great article!!! It is much easier to control the public when you do not enourage critical thinking. What would the world be like if no one ever challenged the ideas of the previous generation.