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March 15, 2010


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I don't agree with the Texas Board of Ed on any of those decisions, but I am always made uncomfortable by both sides of these debates. This sounds like a debate over *how* we should indoctrinate kids, rather than *whether* we should. In a better system, the schools wouldn't be in charge of instructing kids about which musical genres are worthy of attention and which aren't, or about which historical figures are worth knowing by name.

In other words, the losing side here isn't upset that the board is trying to dictate what students should think about the world; they want to do that, too. They're just upset that they're getting outvoted. But unless you think that there are objectively right answers to these value questions, then what better way to decide them than by majority rule?

The better approach is to give the kids a lot of say about what they want to learn, try to facilitate their interests, and challenge them to think critically about whatever topic they pursue. But I guess that makes me a Sixties-era relic. (Moreover, I would concede that that too reflects a value judgment -- just one that I'm more comfortable with.)

The last item on your list of the Board's decisions seems to stand on a different footing, though. That one isn't just about choosing what's worth covering and what isn't; it crosses the line into religious indoctrination, to which there are obvious First Amendment objections.


These debates also reflect people's apparently growing discomfort with any role for pluralism in educational policy. (Witness, for example, this week's news about the movement toward nationwide assessment standards.)

Unless we have a federally-mandated nationwide curriculum, there are necessarily going to be some parts of the country that make choices that differ from those of the national majority. Is that so terrible? And can any of us be so sure (especially after having just experienced eight years of Bush-Cheney) that a federally-dictated approach would reflect values we are comfortable with? Why adopt a winner-take-all approach when there's a good chance you might be on the losing side?

I think we should let each community decide for itself what curriculum to pursue, and I would define community at the level of the individual school. That means there would be some schools in Texas and elsewhere that would make choices that I think are terrible. That's just what ought to happen in a country where not everyone agrees about everything, and where no one can be one hundred percent sure that they're right.

David Levine

The kicker is that because the Texas curriculum policy drives the content of textbooks in the national market, in effect, the Texas Board IS creating a form of "...-mandated nationwide curriculum."


Yes, I've read that same thing, though I don't really understand it. Why wouldn't the policies of other large states (e.g., California) have just as much effect on the national market for textbooks?

David Levine

I think that Texas has an outsized effect because of its size, the details demanded, and the centralized power. The linked article explains that California won't be making changes until 2014, so Texas is the big kahuna right now:

soft cialis

what are some websites that u can make free playlists of music without having to download them? like i could just go to the website and listen to it while im on the computer. any answers?

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