Public schools

Colorado Curriculum Tussle Yet Another Reason to Ditch Public Schools

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Classroom
Labpluto123

In Jefferson County, Colorado, hundreds of students walked out of class and teachers staged a sick out in protest over a new political tilt in the school curriculum. They're pissed off about a school board plan to emphasize patriotism, free markets, American exceptionalism, and the like—basically, a conservative view of U.S. history. That curriculum was developed as an alternative to a national history curriculum from the College Board that conservatives accuse of being leftward-tilting and excessively critical of America's traditions and role in the world.

That the two takes on U.S. history are very different and reflect divergent points of view is not in question. But the whole debate is an excellent illustration of why we shouldn't stick our kids in government schools to be spoon-fed whatever tickles the fancy of winners of school board elections.

According to CBS 4:

Student participants said their demonstration was organized by word of mouth and social media. Many waved American flags and carried signs, including messages that read "There is nothing more patriotic than protest."

The school board proposal that triggered the walkout calls of instructional materials that present positive aspects of the nation and its heritage. It would establish a committee to regularly review texts and course plans, starting with Advanced Placement history, to make sure materials "promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights" and don't "encourage or condone civil disorder, social strike or disregard of the law."

How devoted to the College Board version of history the students are is an open question. At Chalkbeat Colorado, Nicholas Garcia notes, "some students who left school to rally along Wadsworth were treating themselves to nearby fast food, running through intersections, and loitering in parking lots. Others couldn't articulate why they were protesting."

At National Review, before the current fuss, Stanley Kurtz criticized the new College Board curriculum as an attempt to submerge the teaching of American history in a "transnationalist" point of view and "an attempt to hijack the teaching of U.S. history on behalf of a leftist political and ideological perspective."

At the College Board AP Central blog, George Mason Universty's Peter Stearns concedes, "Because world history necessarily reduces the space available to the West and treats the Western tradition as one among several major and valid civilizational experiences, it is inherently suspect."

So a conservative majority on the Jefferson County school board, newly ascendant after elections last November, set out to challenge what they saw as revisionist lessons and make sure classes "present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage." Which is to say, they wanted to insert their point of view into the lessons instead of their opponents' point of view.

And so the classroom culture wars continue.

The thing is…these wars will never end so long as control of curriculum means access to young minds—or denying access to the ideological enemy. When your kids are in the classroom, or your ideas are excluded from the curriculum, the stakes are too high to not try to seize control and make sure that public schools become friendly environments for versions of the world around us that you believe are right and true.

But public schools can never really satisfy every version of what's right and true, and so we're in for endless curriculum battles, texbook wars, and opportunities for kids to walk down the street for a burger while pretending to give a shit about what has the educrats so hot and bothered.

The solution is to abandon the public cafeteria model of education so that kids don't have to line up for the slop served by whoever seized control of the curricular kitchen. If you want to end the classroom culture wars, make sure that curriculum isn't a political prize for whoever wins an election. When families can pick the education approaches and ideas that suit them, there's nothing to fight about. Then the kids can grow up and debate their ideas in local bars, where these arguments belong.

Now, excuse me while I go teach my homeschooled kid that public school educrats are a bunch of contemptible control freaks.

NEXT: John Stossel: Republicans and Democrats Are Both 'Anti-Choice'

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  1. Others couldn’t articulate why they were protesting.

    Anything to get me out of school.

    1. “I don’t think my education should be censored. We should be able to know what happened in our past,” said Tori Leu, a 17-year-old student who protested at Ralston Valley High School in Arvada.

      *snip*

      Abraham Lincoln later told this reporter, “You can tell how lousy the school system is when it produces 17-year olds who are too stupid to know that the internet exists and you can learn any damn facts about history you want just by googling it – including a great many facts that are completely made up.” The late President then took a long disgusted look at the assembled students and muttered “somebody please shoot me”.

      1. Semper tyranannosaurus

        1. I like the way it was done in Gangs of New York, where Lincoln was on stage and somebody else was shot in the audience. They were taking turns, see.

  2. Just another episode of capture the flag.

    Public education is child abuse.

  3. That class wouldn’t prepare you at all for the AP US History test – if you don’t learn the cultural Marxist horseshit that’s tested on it, you’ll never get good scores.

    1. The Cold War ended when capitalism failed in the Soviet Union.

      How was that?

      1. You get a “5” and have proficiencied out of your freshman history requirement in college.

      2. So obviously wrong. The Cold War ended when capitalism infiltrated the Soviet Union, corrupting its purity.

  4. This article reads as if the collectivization of human individuals sucks. Unpossible.

  5. “a school board plan to emphasize patriotism, free markets, American exceptionalism and the like?basically, a conservative view of U.S. history.”

    An earlier generation of lefties would have been insulted that these qualities were associated exclusively with conservatives.

    1. ‘Free markets’ would be the only mentioned topic one could describe as a quality.

  6. Agree with the point, but public schools aren’t going away anytime soon. Given that reality, it makes more sense for the local school board to set the curriculum than bureaucrats in DC.

    1. I agree with this. Also, it makes more sense for the teachers, students, and parents to set the curriculum than the local school board.

  7. If you do a little research into this story, it’s more than injecting a particular viewpoint into the history lessons – basically it boils down to the liberal (teachers union approved) approach to improving schools (big raises for teachers) and the opposition to that approach (anything other than giving teachers more money).

    The superintendent resigned when the new school board members were elected because everybody knew the real agenda behind the rhetoric – the new school board simply wants to destroy public education because they are evil bastards who hate children and would like to see children used as slave labor in their acid mines rather than learning to read and write.

    So let’s ask the conservative Jefferson County school board president the most pressing question of the day.
    “What kind of assurances can you give your opponents, your detractors, that you’re not just going to blow up the entire school district?”
    This bizarre query was actually put recently to Jeffco board president Ken Witt by a journalist from Chalkbeat Colorado, a respected education website.

    1. “None!”

      *Twirls Snidely Whiplash mustache while hefting a large bundle of TNT sticks*

      1. I am soooooo tempted to do a kamikaze run for town office.

        My answers at the meet the candidates forum on the middle school would be epic!!!!!!!

        “Q: What would you do to make the town more green?” (Actual question some 12 y.o. kid asked in the 2010 one)

        “A: Because I respect the separation of church and state, I shall not try to promote any religion, be it Christianity, Pastafarianism, Islam, Buddhism, or Greenism. Thus, in short, I promise I will do nothing!”

        1. Alternative: “A: I’ll paint Town Hall green.”

    2. would like to see children used as slave labor in their acid mines

      Hey! That acid exists only in very narrow strata between layers of highly durable rocks that are expesnive to displace. Small, nimble workers are essential to its extraction!

    3. My understanding is Colorado has a lot of ex-Californians? It sounds to me that CO is in a bit of a battle over what the state’s future is going to look like: Colorado or California.

  8. Why my children won’t be attending government supported schools, item 31,458,432

    1. Lucky you, your wife saw the light.

      1. If by saw the light, started her negotiation with, “Okay, but what about this $8k/year private school?” Then yes.

        1. Sorry, I guess I was projecting, and chose the wrong phrase. I meant something more along the lines of I am jealous your wife is on board for private schooling.

  9. “There is nothing more patriotic than protest.”

    Tell that to the White House press corps.

  10. That the two takes on U.S. history are very different and reflect divergent points of view is not in question.

    But you notice they only protested the one.

  11. “There is nothing more patriotic than protest.”

    Funny, I thought there was nothing more patriotic (in America) than succession. But what do I know?

    1. *Secession*

  12. It would establish a committee to regularly review texts and course plans, starting with Advanced Placement history, to make sure materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights” and don’t “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strike or disregard of the law.”

    This ugly mishmash sounds like a recipe for right wing crypto-authoritarianism.

    1. Those quotes are not from the school board’s proposal, but the teachers’ description of a draft of a what may become the board’s proposal. Of course the teachers want as lurid a description of their straw man as possible.

  13. “When families can pick the education approaches and ideas that suit them, there’s nothing to fight about.”

    Sure, if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t believe you are entitled to control the minds of other people’s children.

  14. I say let the public schools teach leftist rubbish, since every cool kid knows that the teachers and the curricula are all totally squaresville, daddi-o.

    Some of my fondest memories are the times my close friends and I disrupted the commie social studies teachers trying to shovel “nuclear disarmament” and anti-Reaganism down our throats. Leftist dingbats, all of them.

    1. Only a fraction of people manage to unlearn what lies and euphemisms the state indoctrinates them with. Compounding the problem is that these kids will one day breed and reinforce the lies told to their own children.

  15. I listened to a podcast from Cato about Social Justice vs Individual Sovereignty that was relevant? the gist was that the internal disagreements amongst social justice advocates (and amongst moral legalists, too) would result in an unstable political climate as advocates of different “sects” of social justice would battle it out politically (and perhaps with arms!) to become the establish social justice “sect” and that is like the situation in Europe shortly after the Reformation ? different faiths fought wars to become the one true established faith. Eventually, the different sides realized no-one would win and came to a compromise with the Peace of Westphalia where the local monarch’s religion became the established religion but other Christians were allowed to practice their faith privately, which eventually led to the First Amendment in the US. The argument was that this solution, individual choice, the libertarian solution, lead to political stability in religious matter and so applying the libertarian solution in other matters would lead to political stability.

    So in the same way the libertarian solution, letting people chose how to educate their own children instead of letting the government dictate, will eliminate the political conflict on education.

  16. So a conservative majority on the Jefferson County school board, newly ascendant after elections last November, set out to challenge what they saw as revisionist lessons and make sure classes “present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage.” Which is to say, they wanted to insert their point of view into the lessons instead of their opponents’ point of view.

    Why? Why does it say this?

    Maybe, just maybe, what they want to do is get rid of the pervasive leftist slant that most curricula are ground under and replace it with a simple recitation of what actually happened absent the liberal hyperventilation that even the best things America did are couched in today.

    Funny how quickly libertarian ideas like local control are abandoned when the locals refuse to accept leftist orthodoxy. Time for Hillary? Or will we be exhorted to get On the Warpath with Warren?

  17. Maybe, instead, you should teach your homeschooled kids to withhold themselves from emotional reactions, instead to accept what is true and to reject what is false, holding those ideas that they cannot determine the truth/falsity in suspension for further input.

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