Sunday, July 1, 2012

Don't Mess with Texas! We'll Do It Ourselves

                I am not a native Texan, but I have lived here since 1990. It wasn’t a case in which, as a popular bumper sticker proclaims, “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could.” Like many people, I moved here for a job. But perhaps it was inevitable, as one of my early teen crushes was on a girl from Texas. Also, I guess I can claim some vicarious deep roots since I married a Texas girl whose family helped settle Dallas and who has relatives named on the wall of The Alamo.
                One of the qualities I like about Texas is its strong state pride. The state has a rich history, a wonderful variety of cultures and climates, and an independent streak as wide as the state itself. Several great colleges and universities, incredible medical institutions, thriving art scenes, cutting edge technology companies, quality people—I could go on and on about ways Texas defies the stereotypes.
                But then there is this. In its official 2012 platform, the Texas Republican Party includes this statement:

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

Yikes! At a time when creativity and innovation grow more critical—perhaps even basic—they have been reduced to a short-sighted political agenda. After enacting extreme budget cuts, the state now threatens to take giant steps towards having an educational system diametrically opposed to what students need in modern times.
                As if the revival of the TV series Dallas didn’t do enough to reinforce the stereotypes…

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