Friday, July 01, 2011

Why Can't Johnny Read?

UPDATE: below

Academics and parents have long complained that public schools fail to teach fundamentals like maths and reading comprehension. Part of the problem is teacher unions. But another problem is politics: teachers overwhelmingly vote liberal Democrat -- and are rewarded for it -- so tend toward socialist group think. All of the foregoing were exhibited in 2005 when public schools in Montgomery County, Maryland -- the ultra-liberal domicile of choice in the Washington, DC, suburbs -- tried but ultimately failed to mandate a lesson plan condemning religion and praising homosexuality.

According to FOX News, Maryland's at it again:
Maryland is the first state in the country to impose a new requirement to graduate from high school -- something called environmental literacy.

But what is that? That is the question State Senator J. B. Jennings is asking.

"What kind of education is it going to be?" he asks. "Is it going to be fact-based? Or is it going to be theory-based, which is usually politically, theory driven. And you can think, it's going to be about global warming or climate change." . . .

The new rule is a regulation from the State Board of Education, not a law passed by the legislature, so it lays out no specifics. Governor Martin O'Malley offers no real details but praises it, saying it will "infuse core subjects with lessons about conservation and smart growth and the health of our natural world."

O’Malley also said it'll serve as a "foundation for green jobs," though one analyst says training for those is just like it is for any other job. . .

"That is not really education," says [Myron] Ebell [of the Competitive Enterprise Institute]. "It's propaganda and its designed to raise up a new generation of easily led and poorly educated and misinformed students."

And state lawmakers like J.B. Jennings note there are only so many hours in a school day, and only 180 days in a school year. So, he wonders, what in the current curriculum gets squeezed out?

"They can't just keep adding on and on, so they will have to make room for this by pushing other things out of the curriculum, which is going to be a concern," Jennings says.
The draft suggested curricula includes, for high school students:
Investigate and explain that environmental problems arise when human activities and technology disrupt the equilibrium in the food web or interfere with the natural biogeochemical cycles:
  • Habitat destruction

  • Biogeochemical cycles [including the] use of fossil fuels impact on the carbon cycle. . .

  • climate change

  • Release of genetically altered organisms into the environment
The Washington Post says this means teens in Maryland must "be literate on environmental matters to graduate from now on." I'm afraid the Weekly Standard's Mark Hemingway has the more accurate prediction:
In theory, there's nothing wrong with teaching kids to be respectful of the natural environment. But the moment Democratic leaders start throwing around loaded phrases such as "green jobs" in this context, you just know it's going to be an opportunity for political indoctrination.
And for neglect of more fundamental competencies, such as math, history and reading.


Some charts of the top political donors by industry between 1989 and 2009. Page one shows which group gave the most. Page two shows which party got the bucks. No real surprise.

(via reader Warren)


Lame-R said...

This smacks of pantheism; can't it be thrown out of public schools on the grounds that it is effectively endorsement of a religion/religious beliefs?

If shades of monotheism in the curriculum can be challenged, then so can shades of any other theism. At least to my mind...

A_Nonny_Mouse said...

But you have to realize, from the Lib-Prog mindset, it's not Gaia-worship, it's good solid practical science. *

(Remember we elected some dude a couple years ago who swore he was going to put science back in its rightful place? And some voters BELIEVED that! Hoo, boy, good one! Hahahahah!)

* Non-replicable, non-predictive, theoretical; based on bad data, poor assumptions, and faulty logic.... but hey, IT'S SCIENCE because they keep telling us so...

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Lame-R - CS Lewis once claimed that pantheism seems to be the default setting that civilizations revert to when they give up their religion and are in decline. As it is basically an organised and cuddly version of animism, that makes intuitive sense.

I admit, I am not learned enough in ancient civilizations to know if the theory holds up under scrutiny. I'm trusting Lewis on this as a person who knew much more about philosophy (his original specialty) and ancient civilizations than I would ever hope to. But I thought you'd find it interesting.

Lame-R said...

@AVI--very interesting, indeed!