O Texas, My Texas! Where Did You Go Wrong?

This is from a document entitled “2012 REPUBLICAN PARTY OF TEXAS / Report of Platform Committee
and Rules Committee.”

Assuming I’m doing this right, you can download a PDF of the thing here:  2012-Platform-Final

Believe THIS shit:

Knowledge-Based Education – 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.

Get it? They oppose the teaching of higher-order thinking skills.

WTF?? No way.

Yes way. They oppose the teaching of higher-order thinking skills. And they’re willing to say it out loud.

They don’t want to challenge the “fixed beliefs” of, say, 15-year-olds. Presumably because life is so easy to understand that you can, at some point,  just stop trying. Mind-wise, you can crystallize into your permanent adult form about the time you hit puberty and just stop all that bothersome critical thinking and questioning.

Or if you do it, you’ll do it on your own goddam time, Sunny Jim, and not take up the valuable time of public school teachers and administrators.

I admit I’m deliberately hopscotching and cherry-picking through the document, but … dayyum. Look at some of this stuff:

Education Spending – Since data is clear that additional money does not translate into educational achievement, and higher education costs are out of control, we support reducing taxpayer funding to all levels of education institutions.

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

Judeo-Christian Nation – As America is a nation under God founded on Judeo-Christian principles, we affirm the constitutional right of all individuals to worship in the religion of their choice.

Religious Freedom in Public Schools – We urge school administrators and officials to inform Texas school students specifically of their First Amendment rights to pray and engage in religious speech, individually or in groups, on school property without government interference. We urge the Legislature to end censorship of discussion of religion in our founding documents and encourage discussing those documents.

Controversial Theories – We support objective teaching and equal treatment of all sides of scientific theories. We believe theories such as life origins and environmental change should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind.

Family and Defense of Marriage ― We support the definition of marriage as a God-ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and a natural woman …

Enforcement of the Defense of Marriage Act ― We support the enforcement of the State and Federal Defense of Marriage Act by state and federal officials respectively, and oppose creation, recognition and benefits for partnerships outside of marriage that are being provided by some political subdivisions.

Homosexuality ― We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans.

Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle, in public policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction or belief in traditional values.

Safeguarding Our Religious Liberties – We affirm that the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity and strength. We pledge our influence toward a return to the original intent of the First Amendment and toward dispelling the myth of separation of church and state.

Minimum Wage – We believe the Minimum Wage Law should be repealed.

In a section labeled “Israel,” which maunders on for a bit in a pro-Israel way, there’s this:

… Our policy is based on God’s biblical promise to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel and we further invite other nations and organizations to enjoy the benefits of that promise.

The tough thing for anyone attempting to conclude that the entire Texas GOP hierarchy is batshit crazy is that there are diamonds of sanity sprinkled among the loony:

Human Trafficking ― The Republican Party of Texas adamantly opposes any form of human trafficking.

Government Intrusion into the Internet – We oppose the government’s ability to shut down websites either directly or through intimidation without a warrant or judicial hearing.

Jury Reform – We support the right to privacy and security of prospective jurors during jury selection. Courts must show relevance of questions asked of jurors and perform a balancing test between the prospective juror’s right to privacy and lawyers’ need to know. Either party in a criminal trial should have a right to inform jurors of their right to determine facts and render a verdict.

Conflicts of Interest – We support legislation prohibiting influencing or voting of any elected official or appointee where a conflict of interest exists. No such official should represent paying clients before a state agency.

Lobbying Limitation – We support legislation to prohibit former officials and government employees from lobbying for a foreign government and/or any business for five years after leaving public service. We support legislation to prevent lobbying by any organization receiving federal grants except that relating to its tax status.

Gambling ― We oppose the expansion of legalized gambling and encourage the repeal of the Texas State lottery. We oppose dedicating any government revenue from gambling to create or expand any government program.

NASA – We strongly encourage the federal government and NASA to work with American citizens and American businesses to research and develop a new vehicle to continue human space flight and maintain American’s leadership in space exploration.

I don’t know what to make of it. I do know that if I still lived there, I’d be angry a considerable amount of the time.


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  • otrame

    I do know that if I still lived there, I’d be angry a considerable amount of the time.

    After a while, you just get tired of being angry. Then they come up with something even sicker and off I go again. I admit that the party platform left me speechless for a while. Not because of the intent but because, as you said, they say it right out loud.

    I keep thinking about a dear friend, now in her 80s, a life-long Republican like her daddy before her, even though she is very liberal on social issues, who says, “Oh that’s just the nut cases. Real Republicans don’t think like that.”

    Gods, I wish she was right.

  • shouldbeworking

    Just when I think the GOP is completely without redeeming qualities, they have to go and prove me wrong.
    In the immortal words of Marvin the Martian “You have made me very angry… very angry indeed!”

  • http://omnivorousintellectual.blogspot.com/ Southern Geologist

    While I strongly disagree with the idea that their position on gambling is sane I have to say that the rest of this is spot on…and that the first section of that list (the insane stuff) is quite shocking. I’m particularly surprised by their openly admitting to wanting the repeal of minimum wage laws given that, to be blunt, that cuts out a significant portion of their base in Texas.

    I swear, I find more reasons to leave this state on an almost daily basis.

    • Hank Fox

      My experience with state-sponsored gambling was the California Lottery, which was a lie from Day One, and ended up being a parasite on the people least able to judge the true odds of winning. I still call it the Stupidity Tax.

      It was sold to voters as a rich source of funds for education, but I had it from several California teachers that it actually reduced educational funding (legislators diverted existing funding, as anyone with a brain knew they would; also, lottery income varies, whereas regular state funding was certain), and made what there was even harder to get the benefits of, because the law forced the lottery-derived funding to be used for certain specific things, and not other things (which were still real needs).

      Besides, at base, do you really want your GOVERNMENT to run the casino that lures you in with glittery promises of big money so it can fuck you out of what little you have? Because that’s what the state lottery does.

  • HFM

    When I see “legislation to prevent lobbying by any organization receiving federal grants”, I immediately think Planned Parenthood. Similar laws have also been used in Canada to keep climate scientists from speaking about global warming, either to policy makers or journalists.

    Also, NASA isn’t a science-and progress thing in Texas – it’s pork barrel spending (remember “Houston, we have a problem”?).

    I think you’re giving the sane bits entirely too much credit.

    • Hank Fox

      Gah. I wasn’t thinking. You could really be right about this.

    • James

      I think the Lobbying paragraph is mixed – the first part is a good start (I’d also put a 5 year ban on employees of regulators taking jobs with companies they previously regulated), but as you point out the second part can be used in multiple ways to silence legitimate voices.

  • http://www.decrepitoldfool.com george.w

    So, are they planning on having any Texans work at NASA or the partner industries thereof? Outside the lunchroom, I mean. And actually, even effective application of food-safety regulations requires some critical thinking so perhaps not even there.

  • Daniel

    What I find so disgusting about some of the insane bits is that they sounds reasonable, but will be used for horrible things.
    From the ones you listed, ‘Religious freedom in public schools’ and ‘controversial theories’ are worded quite reasonable. Yes, people should be free to pray on schools and yes, students should be able to question and discuss every part of everything they hear in science classes.
    Instead what we know will really happen, and what they really mean, because this always happens, is that schools will start praying in class or on school assemblies and what not, effectively negating that religious freedom. Students will be taught intelligent design and receive flawed education on evolution and climate change.
    And the most horrible thing is that whether they do it right or not students won’t be able to question any part of it, because they haven’t been taught how.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676709287 nichellewrenn

    I was 15 only eight years ago, the only fixed beliefs I had was that my boyfriend loved me and I was the smartest girl in school, both sadly, were incorrect. My point is without critical thinking how can you have fixed beliefs? Isn’t critical thinking what you use to ‘fix’ those beliefs in the first place? This is all rather strange to me, a person who grew up in a secular home, with parents who required us to think. These sorts of reasoning abilities are ABSOLUTELY necessary for day to day living especially in high school when they are the best defense against peer pressure and making stupid decisions.

  • Cathy W

    How did outcome-based education (which seems to meet a lot of the wishes of educational reformers, e.g. “there must be some objective standard to measure students against”) come to be a bugaboo? People I’ve talked to seem to view it as code for “moral relativism” – is there fear that the educational philosophy translates to an overall “end justifies the means” outlook?

    (I live in a liberal area, and the school district Daughter is in uses outcome-based grading or something very much like it at the elementary level. Report cards were long but very informative – for each subject, a list of skills, expected mastery level as of this report, and actual mastery level at each report. As a parent, way more useful than the letter B.)

  • M Walton

    I live in Austin (actually, in a suburb, Cedar Park) and once a day I just have to scream, “I hate fucking Republicans!” If I’m in a reasonable mood, I modify it to, “Well, Republicanism, anyway.” I haven’t been in a reasonable mood much lately.

  • Desertphile

    Holy crap! (Literally) The Texas America Treason Party claimed above to support religious liberty, and then in the very same document they insist non-members of their cult do not have religious liberty. The Texas America Treason Party then claimed that they support positive jury reform, even though people who don’t believe in the gods in Texas are not allowed to serve on a jury, nor give testimony in court. Is schizophrenia common in Texas?

  • magistramarla

    You are lucky that you don’t have to go back to Texas. I lived there for seventeen years, then moved to CA temporarily. CA has its own set of problems, but the government is much more sane!
    Unfortunately, we have to return to Texas next spring. We will immediately begin plotting our escape.
    BTW, I taught in a Texas high school. Professional development classes gave a lot of lip-service to teaching critical thinking skills, but it seemed that every obstacle was placed in our way when we tried to implement it in the classroom. The district stressed “teaching to the test” above all else.
    Once, I designed a truly cool team teaching approach with an English teacher, a Social Studies teacher and a Science teacher as part of our professional development. I taught Latin, so I didn’t have to teach to the TAKS test. When I contacted my colleagues, they begged out of actually doing our team-teaching approach because they were too overwhelmed with teaching to the test as they were required to do.

  • Margaret

    Are there any schools that actually even attempt to teach critical thinking? As far as I can tell, the curriculum in my schools was “Sit down, shut up, don’t ask questions, don’t think, do what you’re told, and quit complaining about being treated unfairly since you have no rights.”

  • pipenta

    Can’t imagine why they’re worried the implications of critical-thinking curriculum. It’s not like it takes or anything…