Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Submitted for your consideration

So, many Tennesseans are up in arm over bias in the Common Core:
Earlier this year, parents in Williamson County raised concerns about a question in a world geography textbook that asked students to consider whether a suicide bomber attacking civilians in a cafe in Israel was terrorism or retaliation for military actions against Palestinians. Critics say the question is among passages that display bias.
I realize that the biggest sin here is the implication that just maybe Israel has done something to merit retaliation. But - correct me if I'm wrong - but after you "consider" this, you can answer "It's just plain terrorism" or even (gasp!) "Well, maybe it was retaliation but such retaliation is never right". In fact, perhaps consideration of the question will make you a better thinker, a stronger advocate of your cause, and someone who doesn't stick their fingers in their ears and say "Lalalala, I can't hear you!" when someone disagrees with you.

This panicked unwillingness to let one's children even hear some other point of view seems to be growing stronger (and not just in Tennessee, where I'm currently visiting, hence the paper). It's behind the unwillingness to let kids go to "liberal" colleges, or be taught evolution, or even consider that somebody might not want to pray "in Jesus' name."

And it seems grounded in the experience of losing one's children to alien ways of thought. Not just fearing that - experiencing it, or seeing others experience it.

Some people might say that a position which cannot withstand even the mild challenge of discovering that it is not, in fact, universally held isn't worth adhering to. But not these folks. They just double down on making sure their kids never find that out.

Of course, they fail. The world is not cut to their pattern.

But that's why they so desperately want to get control.

Oh, right - one more thing: these are the next three paragraphs of that story:
Emily Barton, assistant commissioner of curriculum and instruction for the state Department of Education, acknowledged during one of the hearings that more public input is needed and suggested instituting online reviews "so that all citizens can have equal access to reviewing these materials and sharing their comments and feedback."

Michelle Farnham was at the hearing and said that's something she'd like to see.

"My daughter will be in public schools at some point and I want to make sure they (books) are up to standard," Farnham said.
In other words, the reporter didn't even pretend to address the issue of whether that question really was "bias", or what that would even mean. Just as he didn't address just what Farnham meant by "up to standard". He just kept to the 'Tennessee Eagle Forum promises change! - Dept of Education official says we need to hear from parents, yes - Supporters say the changes are needed' story.

On the other hand, he did close out with this, so well done, there:
Whether it's Common Core or the textbook commission, Vanderbilt University political science professor Bruce Oppenheimer said tea partyers and groups linked to them seem to have a "distrust of anything government designs."

"Their initial assumption is there must be something wrong with it," he said. "In some cases it's conspiratorial, but in other cases just an immediate distrust."

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