Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Politics in Coming Decades

An interesting story from Texas can be found in the UK's Economist, entitled Textbooks in Texas: Conservatives put their stamp on school curricula in Texas, March 16, 2010. The article discusses the latest changes in social studies curriculum in Texas, which is a big market for textbooks; consequently, textbook publishers tend to accomodate the Texas market. The changes involve such things as teaching the Alamo and not Hip-Hop, saying "free enterprise" instead of "free market" or "capitalism".

For critics, this is a blatant attempt to indoctrinate children. At the New York Times, an economics blogger concluded that based on his number of scholarly citations, Hayek was the beneficiary of an "ideological subsidy". The board's conservatives counter that their work is merely a corrective to academia's liberal bent. At the national level, some are concerned about the impact on other states. Texas is such a big textbook market that publishers typically accommodate it.

After the finger-pointing, the article explains:

It is quite clear how this happened. There are 15 people on the board, ten Republicans and five Democrats. But more important is that among the ten Republicans are seven fierce conservatives, along with three who are merely staunch. This is no coincidence. Over the years Republicans have worked to stack the deck with social conservatives. The school board seats are, for the most part, small-money races. A candidate could win with just a few thousand dollars. Yet the board has some power, as last week's vote showed, and a determinedly ideological bloc can organise accordingly. To the victor go the spoils, in other words. It is a clever bit of political strategy, and Democrats could do it too if they put their mind to it.

Actually, the socialist-leaning left did this decades ago, and the result is that politics in the US have been dragged left. We see more and more socialism from our Democrats at the national level, and more and more, the Republicans seem to be "conservative" of traditional American values only by comparison.

Whoever "owns" today's education system is preparing the voters of tomorrow. If the education system is dumbed down, tomorrow's voters will be more easily duped. If young people are not taught honor, hard work and integrity, they will learn to lie, cheat and steal to get ahead; and, they will accept this from their elected leaders. If they are taught to believe they can get something for nothing, they will believe the destructive promises of our self-interested and manipulating politicians.

Tomorrow's elections are being decided in today's schools. It costs millions of dollars to win a gubernatorial or senatorial race, hundreds of millions for a presidential race; but only thousands to win a school board seat, and a victory in a school board seat will influence the other races for decades to come.

This is a strategic political fight, and the "conservatives" are coming to it late.

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