Texas hold'em: what are they thinking?!?

re: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/27/texas-republican-party-2012-platform-education_n_1632097.html

Wow. I have to agree with Arne Duncan on this one:

In March, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told Bloomberg he felt “very, very badly” for Texas students.

However, feeling very, very badly for someone never really helped them out, I don’t think. What is he going to do about those bad feelings? I mean, I feel very, very badly for the taxpayers and parents in Texas, but my bad feelings do not amount to a hill a nano-particles in terms of easing their pain.

The irony is written into the Republican Party’s own “principles” [*gag*]:


We, the 2012 Republican Party of Texas, believe in this platform and expect our elected leaders to uphold these truths through acknowledgement and action. We believe in:
  1. Strict adherence to the original intent of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. and Texas Constitutions.
  2. The sanctity of human life, created in the image of God, which should be protected from fertilization to natural death.
  3. Preserving American and Texas Sovereignty and Freedom.
  4. Limiting government power to those items enumerated in the U.S. and Texas Constitutions.
  5. Personal Accountability and Responsibility.
  6. Self-sufficient families, founded on the traditional marriage of a natural man and a natural woman.
  7. Having an educated population, with parents having the freedom of choice for the education of their children.
  8. Americans having the right to be safe in their homes, on their streets, and in their communities,and the unalienable right to defend themselves.
  9. A free enterprise society unencumbered by government interference or subsidies.
  10. Honoring all of those that serve and protect our freedom.
  11. “The laws of nature and nature’s God” as our Founding Fathers believed.

Right. Whatever dude. Perhaps Texas Republicans should try practicing what they preach. I must have missed the part where “white washing” and being a hypocrite was codified.

What am I going to do about this? I am going to pursue “critical thinking” for our local education system as much as I can, and make sure I instill it in my family to my utmost ability. I might fail, or I might do a lackluster job. But I am not going to wave my draconian scepter around and bang people over the head with it. Instead of telling people what is best for them, I will listen. And yes, there are problems even with that intent and that approach. I intend to learn about those problems as an exercise in being reflective and adaptive.

15 Responses to “Texas hold'em: what are they thinking?!?”

  1. charlesdschultz Says:

    In reading the original document a little closer, I begin to think that the Huffington Post may be spinning things a bit too much. And I apologize because I have done the same thing.

    There are bits and pieces of the original document that I both disagree and agree with. I agree that parental engagement should be encouraged, but not forced. I agree that government should have less of a say with local school districts, but I don’t understand how Big Government accomplishes that.

    And I do very much wonder about funding. Who should pay for “good” schools? Is it fair to spread state tax dollars and sprinkle them evenly across the state? What about all the loopholes and such that try to make the system adaptive for low-SES concentration?

  2. pattsi Says:

    Primary source data is a must to read completely. 🙂 aka the news organizations yesterday in report the SC decision when they only read up to page 2 and not page 3. 🙂

  3. charlesdschultz Says:

    Do you have any experience with High Order Thinking Skills (note the all-caps, as opposed to a general term) and Outcome-Based Education (OBE)? I had not heard of these terms in this manner before. Obviously the Texas GOP thinks these are bad things. How come I think they are good things?

    Time to google them….. 🙂

  4. pattsi Says:

    You are very good at searching the internet–HOTS, so you have probably found this
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higher_order_thinking_skills Bloom’s taxonomy of educational
    objectives,. This was/is an integral part of my PhD work in adult learning and continuing education. There are lots of pretty graphics showing the taxonomy but the urls are so long to include here.
    OBE is explained here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outcome-based_education This is the antithesis of the work of William T. Powers, which I have previously mentioned. was a student of Hugh Petrie. Powers writes and argues that end product testing does not do the job–test ought to be done along the learning pathways to test change, not how much is learned or if learning matches predescribed goals (NCLB).



  5. pattsi Says:

    One last comment–my grandchildren attend public schools in Texas–see my worry lines. Thanks heavens the anti tonic are parents who are deeply invovled in how they learn.

    As to who ought to pay for education–everyone. It is the best investment possible when done in the best interest of the learner using best practices that match the learner.

  6. Vav Says:

    CharlesSchultz: “I agree that parental engagement should be encouraged, but not forced.”

    I struggle with this. I believe that parents are the first and primary teachers. Parents shape who thier children become. This role cannot be replaced. I fear that all too often we are asking the school to be both teacher and parent. My opinion is that the role of the school is subordinate to the role of the family and the individual. At times we seem to be turning this upside down. If current encouragement will not get parents to live up the their responsiblities we need to find something that will. Forcing is a loaded word. Some requirement would be good. We have the bar set real low right now.

  7. charlesdschultz Says:

    @Vav: I would say that the parental obligation is a moral one. As far as a government that enforces morals, I personally think the higher authority should indeed judge between what is right and wrong and be the ultimate arbitrator. But when adults give their own authority and power away, the adult’s role in society is hugely diminished. I think that is where we have arrived today – we depend too much on others to do what we should be doing. I believe what you are referring to is “discipline”, a lost art in today’s climate. If only we allowed ourselves to be chastised and have sincerely honest and open relationships built on mutual trust, then “peer parenting” and even more communal models of helping each other would, I believe, flourish.

    The way I see it, the family unit is a microcosm of society as a whole; parent’s are to be the authority figures and selflessly orchestrate the family so the entire family benefits, learns, grows, is protected, nurtured and provided for. Yet learning is a lifelong venture and we are continually challenged to cast off the vestiges of childhood (the naturally selfish and self-serving nature). I know from my own experience that I learn a lot from my child and other children – I learn how to focus more on others, how my molehills have turned into mountains, how to remember the value of happiness, joy and innocence.

  8. Vav Says:

    So we have a fundamental schism in our society.  Those who retain their parental roles and responsibilities and those who would abrogate those roles and responsibilities to the larger community.  

    How to bring the community together???  Can we get parents to fulfil the parental roles and responsibilites???  Can we have a system where the community fulfills the parent role for those who have abrogated it in a way that is consistent with those who have not???  Can we create 2 (or more) models within our education system where parents can select the model that works for their desire???  So many questions and so intertwined with other issues.

  9. pattsi Says:

    Great dialogue–so tempting to add a thought or two from the perspective of a civil society.
    There is an assumption that there is a trend of parents abrogating their responsibilities. Maybe the questions ought to be is there a subset of parents abrogating parental responsibilities intentionally or are there civil society “push and pulls” that enhance/enable this to happen. There is plenty of data showing the changing trends of two-parent household to one-parent households, for many reasons; this trend has resulted in less income, more work hours, less discretionary time and energy; the less time and energy translates into not being submerged in children’s lives, etc. The social scientists know this, as do the community psychologists, social workers, urban planners, religious leaders, etc. We are overwhelmed with knowledge; yet, what is happening with changing social policy to accommodate what is happening on the street, what is happening to funding on the state and federal levels to fund social support programs? Basically, little to nothing to easy the economic and time stressers that have increased over the past 3 decades.
    Imagine just one day of a low-income single parent with 2-3 children and 2-3 jobs and dependent on mass transit. If a child misses the school bus, what does the parent do as the parent needs to get on a bus to go to work. Or the parent needs to head to Brookens to apply for ILEAP, or go to DCFS–located across town, or go to Family Services for Farmers Market food coupons–located in yet another place, or take a sick child to Frances Nelson–one more different location, unemployment center is on N. Mattis, I could go on with examples. Not easy–where is the time and energy to be involved with the children? Has the individual abrogated responsibility or is the individual just barely holding together a 24/7 life? Now overlay to all of this winter weather.
    Why are we as a civil society not working toward centralizing all community social services in a location near the transportation center to help these individuals save time and energy . Why don’t we fight against the fact that basically all shopping is on the perimeter of the community, most especially the low cost stores, such as Aldi’s, Wal-Mart, SAMS. Why are these not in the hub of the community? Where is low income housing built–on the other side of the tracks–physical barriers–how can children ride bikes to their schools, such as those in Shadow Wood trailer park? Are we building greenways to create safe bicycle pathways throughout the communities so the children have degrees of freedom and parents without a car or just one car can manage children’s activities. How does a child living in Shadow Wood get to SW Champaign to play baseball on those fields or use the new “Y”? Let alone afford to do so. Are we en mass going to the respective city councils and suggesting social policy changes to help these parents gain discretionary time and energy? And what about all the cut backs in funding for any social program–are you writing and calling your legislator asking why this is being done because of the heavy impact on low-income citizens who do not have time to be as involved with their children as those who live in SW Champaign and do not have the time to lobby legislators.
    By the way, I know of what I write since I wore these shoes as a single parent of 3 and was in graduate school plus handling many jobs to pay for school and children. Did I intentionally abrogate my parental duties, absolutely note. Did it happen anyway, absolutely. Was I a bad parent, absolutely not. Would I have had more time and energy to stay on top of every child’s life and issues, yes, if a civil society had been working toward changing how things are done. End result–3 individuals who are great public citizens. When I ask them how this might have happened, I am told it has to do with the modeling they observed. Would my hair be less gray now and would I have had more sleep if civil society had worked toward making social services easier to access, absolutely yes.
    So think about how to increase time and energy for these folks by working toward a more civil society.

  10. pattsi Says:

    P.S. Two assignments that I used to give my social planning students: Assignment one–for one week the student MUST use mass transit to get everywhere–no car, no bike–to shop, to get to school, to the doctor, on a date, etc. Assignment two–for one week the student can not spend more on food than allowed by federal policy, might range from 21-35 dollars for one for a week, depending on policy. Try doing both of these sometime. It is an exceptional learning experience.

  11. Vav Says:

    Pattsi – great information on a civil society approach. My concern is that the civil society approach that you describe goes toward society acting in place of the parrent. I question if this is the correct starting premise.

    Civil society becomes a more important with the distruction of the family. Maybe as we look to solve our issues with education we should look outside of education and look toward strengthening the family. Restoring, nurturing, and embracing the intact family, recognizing that the family is the principal institution for the socialzation and education of children, has the potential to resolve many of our current societal issues.

  12. pattsi Says:

    Hi Vav–I agree that strengthening the family is a great goal. To do this, people need time and energy. This is what civil society can do and people need to figure out how to use and/or redirect newly found time and energy.
    Several good reads on this topic
    And my favorite philosopher–John Rawls http://www.enotes.com/theory-justice/

  13. Theresa Says:

    Wow, as a republican I felt very attacked at the tone of the post. Was the *gag* really necessary? A lot of things liberals believe in I gag at too but usually have more tact than to insult people.

  14. charlesdschultz Says:

    I went overboard and I apologized right away. And I apologize again. You are right, insulting people doesn’t solve any problems. However, as Pattsi pointed out, the ensuing discussion I feel is valuable.

    For the record, I claim to be Independent – I cannot classify myself as either Republican or Democrat.

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