Platform warnings from Texas: will national GOP push lower expectations for public school children?

Since this is a Presidential election year, I’m preparing for my usual study of the political party platform stances on education after their respective conventions. I’ve found this to be a more instructive way to predict where the country may be headed on ed policies than the cryptic, crowd-pleasing sound bytes given out by the candidates in their stump speeches.

Toward that end, the Texas Republicans may have given us a serious and disturbing foreshadow of their party’s national platform when it adopted on June 9th a plank opposing the teaching of higher order thinking skills to schoolchildren in their state.

You read that right. No more teaching kids to think (hint: they believe it’s part of a plot to undermine parental authority). Read more here and here.

A spokesperson for the Texas GOP later said the inclusion of the words “critical thinking” in the platform was a mistake, but the wording of the entire passage makes that weak excuse highly suspect. More likely, the subcommittee and the state convention delegates were very deliberate in their decision.

The larger question: Is this an indicator of what we can expect in the national platform that their Presidential and Congressional candidates will be promoting? Of course, this type of policy would only affect the children attending public schools, so for what does that say about the expectations of Texas Republicans for those children? What type of workers and citizens would they be?

They’ve come too late for me. As a 22-year teaching veteran, mother, grandmother, and church Christian Education Director, I have and will teach children to think. Ask hard questions. Know what you believe, and why you believe it. According to my Bible, ignorance is not bliss; it’s also downright unpatriotic.

I’ll be watching how this develops, and doing an equally critical reading of the Democratic platform, as the summer progresses.

Here’s a footnote to my original post: A few weeks ago, I along with many other educators and parents were alarmed that the Senate was considering a bill containing a clause that would make permanent a Dept. of Education regulation that allowed interns from alternate route programs with no classroom exposure to be labeled “highly qualified.” The clause has been removed from that bill due in part to the response from people like our own Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), a longtime friend of education, who sometimes breaks ranks with his party for the greater good.

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