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News Texas Republican Party 2012 Education platform

  1. Jul 9, 2012 #1
    Then read the Texas Republican Party 2012 Platform report.

    A few examples:
    "We recommend that local school boards and classroom teachers be given moreauthority to deal with disciplinary problems. Corporal punishment is effective and legal in Texas."
    "We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (valuesclarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-BasedEducation (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challengingthe student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority."

    Yes, this is for real.

    It's just... Well, I'm not an American, so maybe it doesn't surprise or disgust Americans as much. But, yeah, disgusted, that's really the only thing I can say about it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 9, 2012 #2


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    Re: Want to read something ugly?

    Please keep posts about the content of the article and refrain from derogatory remarks about the people in the state/country/party.
  4. Jul 9, 2012 #3
    Re: Want to read something ugly?

    I came to the realization long ago that, if things get too out of hand, I can always move to Europe.

    "Undermining parental authority," is the phrase that I don't appreciate the most. I've lately come under the impression that parents need to let their children think for themselves, experience the world for themselves, come to their own conclusions and understandings by themselves, and not have any particular beliefs or ideals unjustly imposed upon them.

    Anectodal evidence: In this last year, I went from calling myself a Christian (both skeptically and without heart behind it, but it was nonetheless the title that I adopted), to calling myself a deist, to calling myself an agnostic, and I now ultimately would consider myself an atheist.

    Both of my parents are religious, and I had never truly been exposed to non-belief. Sure, I had doubts all the time, both as a child, and all throughout my life, but I was consequentially told that those thoughts were "bad." Fastforward to my AP European History class, when I read about prominent deists like Voltiare, and I start to think to myself that that idea is far more appealing to follow than any particular religion. Slowly, I became more open to other theistic, deistic, or atheistic ideals, and thus followed the path down to my current stand on the issue.

    Why is this relevant? I was exposed to these other beliefs in school. I grew up (well, am growing up) in a household where my parents and siblings are religious, so I never had the chance to discover any opposing beliefs. School is about educating students. It's about exposing them to the truth, and the curriculum shouldn't appeal to any one belief system above another, except for the correct one. How are the schools in Texas supposed to know the general consensus of each parent, so as to know that they are not offending or going against any of the students' parents' beliefs, and in the process, might offend some overly zealous parents?

    I would go so far as to say that the majority of Texans, particularly Republicans (not bashing parties or states, etc.) are Christian, seeing as how Christianity is the most prominent religion in the United States. That means that, in order to be unobtrusive of most parents' beliefs, then the curriculum would have to be appealing to a Christian, and thus cause a potential for lacking science and history courses (due to their nature of typically presenting the truth, and not religious versions of our universe and history).

    I'm in no way attempting to bash religion, but merely examining what I believe that previously quoted phrase is implying. What other authoritative belief that parents' impose upon their children is widespread enough in the United States that someone would take a stand to try and protect it?
  5. Jul 9, 2012 #4
    The platform on education also reads :
    “Basic Standards – We favor improving the quality of education for all students, including those with special needs. We support a return to the traditional basics of reading, writing, arithmetic, and citizenship with sufficient discipline to ensure learning and quality educational assessment. “

    Rather than getting balled up in the best approach to teaching, we should concentrate on teaching with the method best suited for the student population in hand.

    I don’t support the return to corporal punishment, nor do I have a strong opinion on HOTS http://hots.org/ . In the former case, it never worked for me, and there were more than ample attempts. In the latter, it appears the push is to keep education on track with the historical past, rather than to try something new. Right, wrong, who knows?

    As the spouse of a Texas Pre-K (pre-school, for the less well informed) teacher certified in early childhood through 4th grade, the solutions aren’t as simple as some think. For example, some parents are very abusive to the teacher that calls to tell them when their child needs some help. In short, some parents just don’t give a damn. Just like we as a population have “hired” the video game console or computer to babysit our children, some have left all the educational responsibility to the school. Some parents are truly scary in their lack on concern for their child’s education. My wife chose to teach in a school that is 85% disadvantaged students (poor, drugs, crime, single parents, abuse, etc. families). In Pre-K, kids are taught letters, number, “pre-reading” skills, printing, etc., so by the time they get to Kindergarten they are ready to learn to read, and some will start reading while in Pre-K. She had zero technology in her class. It took a caring teacher that had an interest in each student's progress. BTW, these are truly wonderful kids with a thirst to learn.

    Texas has a very extensive Pre-K and Head Start program, and much more extensive than the state we now live in. Towards the end of our time in Texas, the Regional paid her to continually travel as much as 2 hrs each way to schools to mentor Head Start teachers. In Texas, Pre-K/Head Start teacher pay is at least as much as the K-12 teachers. In NE, where we live now, from what my wife has seen, Head Start teacher pay is a fraction of the K-12 pay, and about what a teacher aid earned in Texas. From what she is seeing, the early childhood education isn’t to Texas standards and appears to look more like day care.

    Lastly, if you go to the link provided by the OP, you will find many things (not just the two posted) in the Education platform that we could agree on (for and against) and some we wouldn’t.

    IMO, this is a much more striking problem http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/06/e...led-down-under-obama.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all . Have we just thrown away another generations education? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Child_Left_Behind_Act This Act was signed in 2002! Ten years have gone by and about ½ the States have gotten waivers! It's hard for me to imagine it would be a problem going back to the educational system that worked so well for my generation and those before. Waivers! How many students out there could get a 10 year waiver from their teacher for an assignment?

    To refresh, the Act provides: (source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Child_Left_Behind_Act )
    “No Child Left Behind requires all government-run schools receiving federal funding to administer a state-wide standardized test annually to all students. This means that all students take the same test under the same conditions. Schools which receive Title I funding through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 must make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in test scores (e.g. each year, its fifth graders must do better on standardized tests than the previous year's fifth graders).”

    Also, I don't read either of the OP quotes as being religion based.
  6. Jul 9, 2012 #5
    What disgusts you? HOTS and OBE (from my understanding) are really geared towards LD students - they're specific programs, but instead, from reading the HuffPo article, many think that the Republicans are against "higher order thinking" (note the lower case - just like the article used...).
  7. Jul 10, 2012 #6
    I can't think of any other feasible authoritative idea that parents generally pass down to their children that is readily opposed by school teachings.
  8. Jul 10, 2012 #7
    Short list. Values such as personal responsibility vs. collective responsibility, sex education, abstinence, hunting, right to keep arms, death penalty, politics in general that push any viewpoint over another, anything that belittles another’s opinion when the teacher disagrees, etc.

    My kids have been in public and private schools, and I've seen all those things and more.
  9. Jul 11, 2012 #8


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    Obviously, there can be some confusion about what HOTS means - are you talking about a specific computer software package used by educators that happened to choose HOTS as its name or are you talking about HOTS, the teaching method.

    HOTS is why elementary school kids not only have to solve simple arithmetic problems, but also get story problems where they have to figure out how to set up their simple arithmetic problems (that's just the easiest example to use).

    Likewise, OBE is about setting standards students have to meet in order to progress and eventually graduate. Historically, students spend 12 years in school, passing on to the next grade if their teachers will give them at least a 'D' in enough subjects and there's no guarantee these 'D' students have actually learned anything (examples of graduates that are illiterate, for example). OBE requires standardized tests to prove the student has actually learned something before allowing them to graduate.

    There's nothing wrong with either concept in theory, but, in practice, there can be lots of problems.

    1) In softer subjects, the 'correct' thought process and answer may be politically charged. That really has nothing to do with the concept, itself. The opposition is the choice of standards, etc.

    2) If there's standards that every student has to meet and everyone knows what they are, then teachers will teach the students information that helps them pass the standards instead of other stuff that some people might see as more valuable. (In other words, teachers will teach the test instead of teaching students a more diverse knowledge field.)

    3) The teaching method doesn't overcome the environment/skills some students have to live with. If you set standards that have to be met in order to pass/graduate, you may be shocked to find out a large percentage of students will never meet those standards no matter how much money you inject into the education system. Obviously, some parents of the failing students will be very upset.

    4) Having standards isn't a guarantee that people chose the standards wisely. They could be too easy (especially when large percentages fail the first batch of standards) or they could be too difficult. Or, in the softer subjects, the standards could require students to state opinions that their parents would find offensive.

    That's a poorly written platform that states an objection to HOTS (and OBE) unless the Texas Republican Party really wishes a return to the days when students spent 12 years in school and then moved on out into the world with whatever skills they happened to pick up, regardless of whether they picked up a lot of skills or almost no skills - unless they feel the important thing was that the opportunity to learn was presented and it was entirely up to the student to take advantage of that or not to take advantage of that.

    And that could be their viewpoint - a viewpoint that the students (and their parents) should take more responsibility for whether they actually get anything out of school.

    But even in the latter case, I'm not sure why the Republican Party is stating they oppose a teaching method which could be compatible with any outcome an education may desire. I think what they really oppose is the particular standards selected and are struggling for a way to say that coherently without getting completely lost in the details.
  10. Jul 11, 2012 #9
    I don't really know anything about those specific teaching methods (HOTS and OBE), but I also don't really care. The reason they oppose these methods becomes clear from the second part of that sentence "[These programs] have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority."

    Challenging fixed beliefs *should* be a good thing. (Before someone feels the need to pull a strawman on this: challenging != defenestrating.)
  11. Jul 11, 2012 #10


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    Such as an English teacher requiring their students to take the opposite side they actually believe in when writing pro/con papers? Obviously, that would be an impossible requirement in the real world since the student could just lie about which side they believe in and go ahead and take whichever side they want. But I did have an English teacher that tried to sell the idea that taking the opposite side on pro/con papers would raise your score by at least one letter grade. I bought it and believe in it for reasons other than just the grade, but have to admit that it would be impossible to know if it really raised my score by one letter grade since I never wrote two different papers and compared the scores.

    But, regardless of whether I buy into that idea or not, one could raise the question: Why should challenging fixed beliefs be a good idea? Especially if those fixed beliefs are 'better' than opposing beliefs? Shouldn't we be teaching the best beliefs?

    In other words, your statement sounds like a fixed belief that you've provided no support for.
  12. Jul 11, 2012 #11
    Because we cannot determine which beliefs are best without challenging them all.
  13. Jul 11, 2012 #12

    Education should not be about challenging belief it should be about imparting knowledge who decides which beliefs get challenged? Each teacher? each district? state?

    Belief has no place in school I do not care what a teachers position is on the right to bare arms or on gay marriage or whatever.

    As the poster above said he went out and researched on his own and developed his own beliefs regarding religion that is how it should be not trading what your parents raise you to be familiar with for what your teacher thinks you should "believe"

    Each individual needs to make a choice to either expand and refine their views or not and what views they consider or research on their own it is not a place for government mandated "challenging".

    And yes that is my belief feel free to challenge it I am willing to evaluate it but it is my choice not some administrator.
  14. Jul 11, 2012 #13
    What do you mean by knowledge in this regard, and what do you mean by belief? Where is evolution placed?
  15. Jul 11, 2012 #14
    Evolution and genetics belong in high school biology classes not in elementary earth science classes. That being the case by the time you are in high school you can choose to take biology or not. At that point it is knowledge based on our understanding of biology and genetics that evolution has and is the natural course of things.

    An elementary school teacher has no reason to even bring evolution into a discussion with 6-12 year old children and that is normally the situation that is criticized by most parents.

    Just like capital punishment and other issues do not belong in education until the students have learned the needed pre requisite skills to truly evaluate the topic with out needing to simply "sponge" up every word a teacher says.

    You do not jump into calc based physics just for fun in 3rd grade math just because the teacher wants to why should you jump to advanced civics/biology/social issues simply because the teacher would like to influence the world view of the students.

    I think its equivalent to a parent pushing racist views on a child who is to young to understand race. Or that Homosexuality is the norm.

    This cuts both sides of the spectrum but one side wants to use the system to spread its views and suppress the other painting them as biggots and "deniers". I do not want either side foisting its beliefs on anyone.

    These views that need challenged are part of every culture that does not make them right or wrong but they are part of how children are raised and it is not the place of anyone to forcibly try to take those choices from a parent.

    Young adults if you have not noticed will inherently question what they have been taught in the home and that is each individuals journey to walk to self discovery.

    Does that clarify anything daveb?
  16. Jul 11, 2012 #15


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    How about this one?

    Isn't saying they're self-evident just a cop out for something they can't prove? I'm pretty sure one could get into trouble for applying a contrary view (or a racist view) in just about any school system. Yes, I'm picking an extreme example, but there's always some 'beliefs' are going to be treated as self-evident and challenging them will be heavily discouraged.

    And, to be clear, the quote is historical, from the Declaration of Independence, may or may not represent my own personal views, but is not an attempt by me to claim anything or anyone does or does not exist.
  17. Jul 11, 2012 #16
    I see no problem with challenging that belief at all. (This doesn't mean that I think that belief is stupid, or any such thing.) And yes, one could get in trouble for challenging such a belief - but that doesn't mean challenging the belief is bad.
  18. Jul 11, 2012 #17


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    Actually, I tend to agree with Oltz on this.

    School should be a safe place for students to explore their opinions and where those opinions can lead, it shouldn't be a place where teachers feed the "approved" beliefs to students. In other words, I think the school curriculum could be a problem to be addressed.

    I wouldn't extend this to the individual teachers, though, unless they were being very aggressive in trying to sell some particular point of view. At least in high school, there were quite a few teachers that had an obvious slant to the way they discussed things, but there was no common point of view among the teachers any more than there was a common point of view among the people in the city. Being exposed to teachers with different points of view about the same subject only teaches that there's more than one point of view about the subject - it doesn't brainwash the students into believing some particular point of view.

    There's always exceptions. In the case of evolution in particular, I think the relatively small groups that find it offensive are just going to have to suck it up (or decide they just won't learn the subjects that include evolution). You can respect other people's beliefs, but asking that the majority of the people keep quiet about a scientific fact to avoid offending a small group of people is going a bit far.
  19. Jul 11, 2012 #18
    I agree Bob High school in the appropriate subject area is a fine place for there to be some slant in individual classrooms.

    Leave your politics and personal beliefs out of the class room if your students are under 16 years old.
  20. Jul 11, 2012 #19


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    Surely you can imagine some fixed beliefs that should not be open to re-determination by third parties? E.g.: 'Murder is wrong'. 'Child molestation is wrong'. 'Stealing Johnny's lunch money is wrong'. This is, I believe, about primary education, not the university seminar.
  21. Jul 11, 2012 #20
    No, I don't see a problem with challenging those beliefs. Why? Because if they are correct (which I of course believe they are), then that's we'll conclude. Note that 'challenging beliefs' does not mean you can just ignore what is generally taken for granted - there are often good reasons for this.

    Of course, most people instinctively know this and don't feel a need to re-determine them, so the point is pretty much moot.
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