Saturday, July 3, 2010

Texas--Home of the Oppressors Part 4: Education

Hey All,

I hope you can all get out and enjoy one another's company on our Nation's birthday. I will personally be spending it in a parking booth because apparently the university like to observe holidays the day after they happen. Oh well. Anywho, I am finally posting part 4 of 6 on Education and how it is impacted by the Texas GOP Platform.

"Ten Commandments – We oppose any governmental action to restrict, prohibit, or remove public display of the Decalogue or other religious symbols."

This one is pretty obvious, they want to let the Ten Commandments be said in everyday school settings without punishment. While I 100% support freedom of speech, I see this as a ploy to get parents and church goers emphasized permission to encourage their children to evangelize in schools. This I do have a problem with, public schools are a place for learning, protected by the Separation of Church and State. I don't mind if kids talk about their religion, but when they start pressuring other students that's when I get frustrated. Every child deserves to go to public school without fear they are going to have a bible pushed at them.

"Support of Parental Authority - We support parental authority and the teaching of moral values in the home. We oppose school–based clinics and/or youth impact centers located at, sponsored by, or funded by any state agency or public school district, whether or not they dispense condoms and contraceptives or refer, aid, or advise minors to have abortions."

Yes, I believe parents should be involved in teaching their children about sex and their feelings about it. I do however resent the idea that there should be no services or help offered to these kids. They are at the ages of curiosity, raging hormones, and peer pressure. You can't expect that every kid is going to be "good" and stay abstient. STI's happen, pregnancy happens, and rape happens. If you don't have places for kids to go, you're basically isolating them, putting them on an island to get information from unverifiable sources, and leaving them to a potentially doomed fate by not giving them the resources to prevent against HIV and other STI's, among other things.

"Basic Standards – We favor improvements on the quality of education and a return to the traditional basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic with sufficient discipline to ensure learning. We support standardized testing to ensure minimal standards are met. Bilingual Education – English is the language of commerce, therefore a successful tiered language instruction program with the following provisions is recommended:

Year 1: 70% English / 30% Native language (Year 1 indicates first year of U.S. based education)

Year 2: 80% English / 20% Native language

Year 3: 90% English / 10% Native language

Year 4 and thereafter: 100% English (No bilingual education after year 3)

All students must pass recognized standard tests that verify each student’s English ability for their grade level before advancing. No research based evidence exists that a dual language program promotes the language of commerce."

As a English as a Second Language teacher, this really frustrates me. First off, standardized testing is a sham. It's geared to native English speakers and puts unnecessary pressure on students and teachers. The school years are so rushed and packed with information that students don't get much attention to really firmly grasp all the topics.

Secondly, bilingual education isn’t as simple as tiered percentages. Every individual learns language differently and at different paces at that. When you limit education based on a rigid structure, you leave students behind resulting in higher drop-out rates. Especially if you prohibit a student from moving forward a grade (even if they did well in all their classes) just because their English isn’t to a level you deem appropriate. But maybe that’s the goal, get all the immigrants out of our schools so we can reign with our American-born glory. News flash, your ancestors immigrated here, and chances are they didn’t speak English.

“College Textbooks – We support Texas’ colleges and universities use of the same or substitutable textbooks for ten or more years in order to bring costs to students down and maintain some residual value for used books. We oppose restrictions on use of textbooks for multiple years, such as requiring annual access codes.”

This is one of the few stances I actually for the most part support. I do think it’s ridiculous to force students to buy new books because of access codes. I do think that if a new textbook comes out that is infinitely better than the previous edition, it is important to switch to that book. But I like that they are advocating for cheaper textbooks for students.

“Early Childhood Development – We believe that parents are best suited to train their children in their early development and oppose mandatory pre-school and Kindergarten. We urge Congress to repeal government-sponsored programs that deal with early childhood development.”

I think this is beyond ridiculous. Yes, parents should help their children grow and develop in their early (and later) years. However pre-school and Kindergarten are extremely important. This stance is focusing on middle and upper class families who can afford to have a parent not work in order to teach their children. What about single parents, low-income families, and everyone else inbetween who need to have their children in these programs because they work two full-time jobs just to make sure that their kids can eat? By taking away these resources you will not only see a drop in literacy skills in lower-income households, but also potentially greater poverty due to childcare costs and tuition to private pre-schools and kindergartens.

“Educational Entitlement – Given that education is reserved to the states under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, we encourage legislation that prohibits enrollment in free public schools of non-citizens unlawfully present in the United States. We encourage the Texas Attorney General to challenge the Federal provision of residency verification.”

Again, this is ridiculous. Yes, these illegal immigrants need to pay taxes that will help fund schools. But it is not in the best interest of the children to deny them schooling because the citizenship process takes YEARS (sometimes more the 10). Most of these immigrants are here because their people were being slaughtered in their country, poverty destroyed their lives, or they are being persecuted by big corporations or their government. They are here to better their lives, and seeing how that’s what all OUR ancestors came here for, we best live up to our civic duty to help these people.

“Multiculturalism – We support teaching the principles articulated by Republican Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that we be judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character and we celebrate positive contributions to our society by members of all cultural groups without emphasizing their differences. We favor strengthening our common American identity and loyalty instead of multiculturalism that emphasizes differences among racial and ethnic groups.”

This is really a disgusting standpoint living in this masquerade of equality. If we are going to say everyone is the same, we’re all American and thus have the same experiences we are setting ourselves up for bigotry and lack of sensitivity. It is a fact that different racial and ethnic groups experience the world differently. When we fail to acknowledge these differences we falsely say we can relate to eachother on levels that we really can’t. This lack of sensitivity will lead eventually lead to the end of affirmative action, lack of cultural understanding, and eventually, it is this author’s belief, white supremacy to a greater degree than it exists today. In this country we are not all created equal. It’s only through education that we can change that, and if we ignore it, the gaps between races will grow larger and true equality will never be had.

“Sex Education – We recognize parental responsibility and authority regarding sex education. We support policies that mandate parental notification and consent before any sex education program is presented to their child. Parents must be given an opportunity to review the material prior to giving their consent. We oppose any sex education other than abstinence until heterosexual marriage.”

So I have a huge beef with sex education in the United States. When over 53% of middle school children are already having sex, you know abstinence-only education isn’t working. There has been studies done that prove that absitence-only education doesn’t decrease sexual activity in youth, but it does prevent a majority of them practicing safe sex or using contraception. Comprehensive sex ed doesn’t increase levels of sexual activity, but it does improve the numbers of of participants using contraception and practicing safe sex.

I do agree that parents should be notified if their child is going to be taught sex-ed, and they should be able to decide what’s best for their child. However this idea that heterosexual abstinence-only education should be the only thing taught is appalling. With teen pregnancy on the rise we need to be preparing our children to protect themselves, rather than hearing myths from their friends.

“Traditional Principles in Education – We support school subjects with emphasis on Judeo-Christian principles (including the Ten Commandments) upon which America was founded and which form the basis of America’s legal, political and economic systems. We support curricula that are heavily weighted on original founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and Founders’ writings.”

Let me break this down for you.... They want to TEACH our children the Ten Commandments in school. Last I heard, this was crazily illegal. I’ve written at length the implications of announcing that our country is a Christian nation in Part 3: Separation of Church and State. If we want to alienate our non-Christian students, this is the way to do it. And I in absolutely no way support this method of teaching.

“School Health Care – We urge legislators to prohibit reproductive health care services, including counseling, referrals, and distribution of condoms and contraception through public schools. We support the parents’ right to choose, without penalty, which medications are administered to their minor children. We oppose medical clinics on school property except higher education and health care for students without parental consent.”

No counseling... So what happens if a child is raped by their father and they have no one to talk to but the school nurse or counselor? We want to take away the only resource they have available to them? This is disgusting and just plays into the culture of silence.

Like I said above about sex education, students need access to protection. At the very least condoms are important. If kids are going to have sex (which, they are, nothing you say or do is going to prevent it) do you want them to have the option to prevent disease and pregnancy? I would hope you would. There is really no other place for these kids to get these products, and it’s important that they are available to them AND they know how to use them.

Education in this country is already severly lacking. This platform is calling for regression, not progress. We owe it to our youth to fight this and ensure that they receive the education they deserve. I think it’s also important to note that this isn’t just a Texas issue. Texas is the largest distributor of text books in this country. That being said, what happens in Texas is what happens in schools everywhere. If you don’t want your children being taught that our country is a strictly English-speaking, Christian nation, you need to help rally against this platform. Urge your local senators to take up bills like California did, asking your state government to have restrictions on what can go into these textbooks so unfair, biased sentiments aren’t woven into your children’s texts.

All the above stances were taken in full context and can be found here.

Peace, love, and the Right to Equal Education,


1 comment:

  1. i remember being in school and the 10 commandment thing. UGH!