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Keep politics out of school curriculum

The gravity of changes to the social studies curriculum in Texas is not lost on many people who have followed the progress of the state’s Board of Education as it heads into a likely vote on Friday.
Today, the board was set to deal with amendments to the proposed policy for social studies instruction, with media and school administration professionals around the state sure to look hard at what comes.

There are valid arguments on both sides of the discussion of the proposed changes, which include concepts like re-evaluating the position of the United Nations on individual liberty and considering changes to the way we think about the federal government of the United States. “Democracy” no more, Texas’ proposal puts “constitutional republic” on the record.

Painting either side of this argument as Republican or Democrat is largely foolish.

These are the concepts we will be teaching to the people who will become the future of our society.

While people might appreciate that idea in vague terms, it has to be said that the specifics of it are important — that these students are taught in as neutral of an environment as is possible should be the goal.

Coverage of this issue has brought to light the expected bias on both sides of the debate. It’s become about politics, not teaching.

Teaching is certainly where this kind of consideration should be focused. We must not make the mistake of misinterpreting our failure to teach as effectively as our global competitors here in the United States as a failure to teach the correct kinds of material.

As we’ve hinted here, it is a fundamental issue of methods and focus, not material, that plagues us the most.

We should be focusing our curriculum standards discussions on more substantial arguments than whether social studies is too liberal now and too conservative in the proposed changes, as has been done in recent months.

Heading into tomorrow’s vote, paneled by a largely conservative group of policymakers, it seems clear the outcome will be that Texas’ standards are proportionately more conservative.

Losing sight of our ultimate goals in any change we make would be the real dilemma — if politics overcomes education of our youth, we’re going to get ourselves into trouble down the road.

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Posted by on May 20 2010. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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