Thursday, June 28, 2012

Why Johnny can’t think

The cat is finally out of the bag. If any of you were under the illusion that Republicans and Democrats simply had differing views on education policy in America, Texas Republicans have finally explained out loud the party’s real motives in attacking public education in this country: It inspires children to think.

What? Wait a second, you say. Isn’t that the whole point of an education, to help people learn to think? Not according to the Texas Republican delegates who met in Fort Worth recently to approve their 2012 platform. Amid a slew of Draconian proposals aimed at education reform, including instituting corporal punishment, Texas conservatives added a statement opposing the teaching of “higher order thinking skills,” because they might challenge, “student’s fixed beliefs” and undermine “parental authority.”

So, Texas Republicans don’t want children to actually think. For anyone who has paid attention over the years, it’s been clear that this was the ultimate endgame of the conservative approach to education all along, it was just never stated so plainly and obviously. Conservatives want children to be indoctrinated, not educated. Critical thinking skills are a threat to blind obedience; hence, they need to be discarded.

Even the age-old canard that public education indoctrinates children with liberal ideas is thrown under the bus by this group. They don’t want young people to have an opportunity to “choose” conservative values over liberal values; they don’t want them to have any choice at all. This is, of course, telling as to how they perceive the strength of their arguments in the marketplace of ideas.

There have been plenty of jokes made over the years comparing America’s Christian Right to the Taliban, but I’ve stopped laughing. Every time they feel emboldened to say what they actually believe as opposed to what they think is politically acceptable, I hear a brand of extremism that is determined to turn a first-world superpower into a third-world theocracy.

One of the enduring quotes from the Vietnam War is, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” This seems to be the driving philosophy of the Religious Right in America in the twenty-first century. The biggest threat to this country doesn’t come from Afghanistan or China or Cuba, but from the daises and pews of conservative Christian churches across the United States.

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