Monday, July 17, 2006

Dumb & Dumber - The World According to Jeb

I saw the following a few weeks back yet the coverage continues so I'll post on the issue. That the Bu$hCo boys managed to become Governors of two of our larger Southern states revelas much. Jeb is smarter, actually has some power over Florida when Dubyah had little in Texas, and has less swagger.

Jeb's Florida Legislature has passed a rather bizarre package of education legislation that seems to destroy critical thinking in Florida's public school history classes. The Legislature "thinks", or at least legislates, that history must be taught according to the official version mandated by the powers that be. Here's the language:

American history shall be viewed as factual, not as constructed, shall be viewed as knowable, teachable, and testable, and shall be defined as the creation of a new nation based largely on the universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.

I'm hoping that anyone with even a moderate level of exposure to history knows interpretations of "facts" are much of the discipline. History News Network gives J.L. Bell space for "History 101: Florida's Flawed Lesson Plan" is devastating in the anaysis of Florida's "constructing" but the ending is shared as follows:

I’ve long felt that if schools teach American history accurately, including the fact that there are different ways of viewing the past, the U.S. of A. will get the respect it deserves. Florida’s lawmakers obviously don’t have the same faith.

Robert Jensen appears on Common Dreams with "Florida's Fear of History: New Law Undermines Critical Thinking" with the beginning being the preferred portion to share.

One way to measure the fears of people in power is by the intensity of their quest for certainty and control over knowledge.

By that standard, the members of the Florida Legislature marked themselves as the folks most terrified of history in the United States when last month they took bold action to become the first state to outlaw historical interpretation in public schools. In other words, Florida has officially replaced the study of history with the imposition of dogma and effectively outlawed critical thinking.

Although U.S. students are typically taught a sanitized version of history in which the inherent superiority and benevolence of the United States is rarely challenged, the social and political changes unleashed in the 1960s have opened up some space for a more honest accounting of our past. But even these few small steps taken by some teachers toward collective critical self-reflection are too much for many Americans to bear.

Jensen's piece is very solid in ridiculing the Florida legislature's arrogance and lack of understanding.

Can't wait to see how the textbook companies handle this one. Florida and Texas and California and ... the larger states often create the markets that the smaller states must accept. Also, I'll offer that teaching one damn fact after another is par for the course in today's standardized test world. Another damage to public education courtesy of the right wing. I expect this legislation makes Lynne Cheney proud. Peace ... or War!