If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the song “Ebony and Ivory,” it’s that people are the same wherever we go. Alas, the educational establishment has been reluctant to embrace this truism, insisting on people-are-the-same-wherever-we-go-denying practices like tracking and electives, and (grudgingly) allowing charter schools a limited degree of “autonomy,” which is just a fancy word for “not following all the rules that our wiser-than-everyone-else education officials, in their near-infinite wisdom, insist that we follow.”
Signs are showing, however, that this is changing. First, brave pioneers like Texas are demonstrating the wisdom of a centrally-planned curriculum:
Teachers in Texas will be required to cover the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation’s Founding Fathers, but not highlight the philosophical rationale for the separation of church and state. Curriculum standards also will describe the U.S. government as a “constitutional republic,” rather than “democratic,” and students will be required to study the decline in value of the U.S. dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard.
Republican Terri Leo, a member of the powerful Christian conservative voting bloc, called the standards “world class” and “exceptional.”
Indeed, it’s probably dangerous and/or irrelevant to teach kids about antiquated topics like “separation of church and state.” And how can you be a good citizen if you don’t learn the story of how George Washington was driving on the freeway one day and then broke down in tears and pulled over to the side of the road and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior? It sounds like they also have pretty good plan to make sure that “world history” actually covers the entire several-thousand-year history of the world. (Unfortunately, it sounds like they still don’t have a plan to avoid spending way more time than scheduled on the Civil War and then end up having to cram all of post-World-War-II history into the last week of the school year.)
Nonetheless, this plan isn’t perfect. For instance, it only applies to children in Texas. Why should the kids in Washington and Alabama and North Dakota and Iowa be denied the benefits of a Terri-Leo-approved, one-size-fits-all education?
Luckily, governors and “education leaders” are on the same page:
Governors and education leaders on Wednesday proposed sweeping new school standards that could lead to students across the country using the same math and English textbooks and taking the same tests, replacing a patchwork of state and local systems in an attempt to raise student achievement nationwide.
One small sticking point seems to be that the good people of Texas, enamored of their seemingly-already-perfect system, are reluctant to throw their lot in with the other 49 states.
Nonetheless, the logic is inescapable. If one unified curriculum for all students in Texas is good, one unified curriculum for all students in the country is even better. Sure, some naysayers might claim that “different students learn differently” or “trying a variety of things could help us figure out what works best” or “there’s a chance that wingnuts could capture a centralized process and force a completely wingnut curriculum on everyone,” but (as was made clear in the song “Ebony and Ivory”) those are pretty weak objections.
And in the end, it’s hard to imagine that the Texas School Board won’t give in to logic. Which leaves us only with the issue of getting Your Religion Is False enthroned as part of the national-standard eighth-grade required reading. Can somebody introduce me to Arne Duncan?