Texas Republicans Oppose Teaching Kids Critical Thinking in School Because It ‘Undermines Parental Authority’ June 28, 2012

Texas Republicans Oppose Teaching Kids Critical Thinking in School Because It ‘Undermines Parental Authority’

The Republican Party of Texas recently adopted their 2012 platform (PDF)… it’s full of all sorts of horrible ideas (faith-based drug rehab, repealing the minimum wage, no gay people in the military), but one portion of it really sticks out if you care about educating children:

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.”

That just happened. Seriously.

Republicans are against critical thinking because it could challenge what parents teach their kids, even when they’re wrong.

But what if the kids want to believe Creationism? Doesn’t matter! We can’t have them challenging their parents’ faith.

But what about teaching them to question what pseudo-historians like David Barton say? Nope! Just believe what you’re told. You’re too young to be asking questions.

But what about teaching kids to discern truth from fiction? Blasphemy! Whatever Republicans tell you is truth. Why question that?

Cenk Uygur summarizes the GOP thought-process perfectly: “Wouldn’t it be great if everybody in Texas was as dumb as we are, and then everybody would be Republicans?”

Meanwhile, the word “God” appears 12 times in the GOP Platform.

If you’re an atheist, the Republican Party isn’t even trying to reach out to you. Don’t give the satisfaction of your votes.

(Thanks to Don for the link!)

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  • CelticWhisper

    Makes sense when you think about it.  A kid growing up blindly obeying their parents will be inclined to blindly obey government as an adult.  The Bush II years should be about all we need to see how the GOP feels about authority.  (Not that the Dems are blameless either, but the GOP seems more brazen about it.)

  • Thinking Skills don’t have to be Higher Order for them to be against them

  • Amarines1

    I work as a special ed teacher’s aide in Texas and as an atheist I will say it is tough to see and hear everything laced with god. The have girls for god club, athletes for god club, and at the end of our school year the superintendent sent out a letter thanking everyone and how we are doing gods work. Its pretty crazy here…

  • Andrew B.

    “have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.””

    The purpose of education IS  to challenge students fixed-beliefs.  If the student holds incorrect beliefs, they’ll be relieved of their ignorance.  If they happen to hold correct beliefs, they’ll come to understand WHY they believe what they do.  How is this not obvious?

  • Rick Wigton

     It seems obvious to me that the GOP controlled States are in a contest to see who can come up with the most regressive, misogynistic, racist and brain-dead legislation. So now the Texas GOP thinks that kids shouldn’t develop critical thinking skills.  Yes indeed we wouldn’t want them questioning anything they are taught at home or in their church. (Oh the horror!)  They want their kids to be mindless robots who accept everything  they are told and never ask any tough questions.  Seriously, the GOP has gone completely nuts in this country.  They’ve turned into a herd of mindless, religious whack-jobs.  (Barry Goldwater & William F Buckley must be turning over in their graves.)

  • jose
  • Wild Rumpus

    Can we get Edwina Rogers in here to explain to us why this is a good thing?

  • Tainda

    I just can’t wrap my head around how those people think.  Why would you want your kid to become a blind follower?  I taught mine to question everything.  I’m very glad I can’t understand their ways though.

  • Why do you think she supports this part of the platform?

  • We can’t have THINKING going on here! That’s a cornerstone of the Liberal Agenda! If they start THINKING, who knows WHAT that will lead to!

  • Ben Dreidel

    She gave money to Rick Perry’s presidential campaign. The Texas GOP platform is pretty much identical to Rick Perry’s views.

  • This was in part explained to me by a “recovering Republican” family-member-through-marriage. He’s an independent now. After a lifetime of membership with the GOP he abandoned the party several years ago when things started going truly bat-shit and all Jesusland under the Baby Bush administration.

    His observation was that “those people” have built an intellectual (a loose use of the word) and emotional cocoon of safety. They’re comfortable in that cocoon. They abdicate all responsibility to their imaginary buddy and revert to a child-like state of relying on an all-powerful parent. This also allows them to act like total douchecanoes, and when taken to task they lay it at the feet of their authority figure in the sky.

    So anything that threatens this cocoon is evil and scary and needs to be destroyed. Not neutralized or pushed away, DESTROYED. He felt many of the parents were doing their kids a huge good by keeping them in the cocoon, away from Satan’s scary questioning and lies. And so it goes. I knew this, but it still didn’t diminish my astonishment when I read this article this morning.

  • Zeggman

    Authoritarians favor authority over thinking. In other news…

  • She said she supported his platform for one issue only: Healthcare, which was the industry she worked for before the Secular Coalition. She didn’t support (or care about) the rest of the platform. You can criticize that all you want, but don’t imply she supported the rest of the platform.

  • Tainda

    *shiver*  I live in Missouri and see the blindness these people have every day.  It honestly scares me.

    I gravitate toward anything different because I want to learn about it.  That’s how humans learn.  

  • Pedro Lemos

    My thoughts exactly. The core of scientific development is precisely to challenge your fixed beliefs. If people didn´t do that, we would still believe we live in a plane world.

  • Ben Dreidel

    Where did she state this? I know in her AMA she dodged the question of why she supported Rick Perry with a health care lobbying answer. 

    “You have donated money to Rick Perry’s campaign. How do account for donating to a campaign that the organization that you now lead has spoken out against?”
    ER: “I worked with him in his capacity as chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association. At the time, I was working to implement changes to Medicaid in the states and we wanted to work with any and all governors. The coalition I was leading at the time designated Democrats to work with Democratic governors and Republicans (like me) to work with Republican governors.I hope that Governor Perry “sees the light” and I plan on meeting with him and his staff to see if there is any common ground that we can work together on with respect to secular issues.”

  • newavocation

    Seems we are in the pre-nazi stage. I wonder when will it be too late to stop it. I remember my mom telling me about anti-nazis in the small german town she lived in. The ones they took away but managed to come back were good or quiet little nazis after that.

  • I wonder if in 50 years time Godwin’s Law will change “Hitler/Nazis” to “Republicans/Theists”.

  • That’s how *non-xenophobic* humans learn. I laud your attitude.

    Where in Missouri? I heard the big cities like St. Louis aren’t that bad, but once you get into the small towns I’ve been made to understand it’s xenophobia 24/7. If you aren’t local, white and kneeling before Jesus, you’re nobody.

  • CultOfReason

    Was the TYT video taken down?  I can’t seem to access it.

  • Tainda


    I live in a small town about 40 miles from Kansas City.  I drive to Kansas City to work because I get paid a lot more and I get away from the small minded bigots in said town lol  I live there because the rent is cheap and it’s relatively safe.

    Most people avoid me because they either don’t know me or they know me and know my beliefs.  That’s the way I like it 🙂

  • Phil Bellerive

    What happens when the kids reach adulthood and realize they’ve been raised by a couple of complete idiots?

  • Kodie

    Why do they object to the word “cult” when it’s applied to them? 

  • Good lord.  The earth is flat.  The earth is flat because two thousand years ago people believed it was flat.  Do not ask questions. Do not set sail. Stop that thinking at once!  It doesn’t matter if it is true.  I believe it.  Therefore my children will believe it.  And their children will believe it.  We will stay in our own little corner of the world because it is flat. 

    What’s that you say?  It’s been proven the earth is round?  Say what you want.  I still believe the earth is flat.  *fingers in ears* *humming loudly*  I can’t hear you….

  • matt

     Yep.  I live in St Louis, but take a 35 minute trip south and it gets scary.

  • Glasofruix

    Half of them would get a Darwin award before they reach adulthood the other half would simply be too stupid to notice.

  • Chucknorris

    Rush-BU2B. That is all.

  • Neuron

    A dog bites a man and the sky is blue!

  • Neuron

    “how those people think”? They don’t. They’re very much ant-thought. That was made abundantly clear years ago and has been reaffirmed several times, including now.

  • It’s just an endless, sad cycle of stupid in some parts of this country. They’re stupid because their parents raised them to be stupid. And their parents raised them to be stupid because their parents are stupid and were raised that way. 

  • Annie

    That’s one scary document.  This section caught my eye too:

    Free Speech for the Clergy – We urge amendment of the Internal Revenue Code to allow a religious organization to address issues without fear of losing its tax-exempt status. We call for repeal of requirements that religious organizations send the government any personal information about their contributors. Government Regulation of Religious Institutions – The state should have no power over licensing or training of clergy. The State should withdraw all imposed regulations.  -page 12

  • Bo Tait

    How far can this go? How long can America go on with such incredibly different views for the country? Its so extreme now I can easily see that country being split in two in the future.
    How bad will it be in 10-20 years? Extremism doesn’t just level off. It spirals out of control or someone puts a stop to it. Tick tock, America.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Blind followers don’t question the church or God. They don’t question the “Godly” Republicans. And they don’t become Liberals. 

    In short, True Americans(TM) are blind followers. 

  • We had this golden opportunity 150 years ago to let the South go, and we fought a bloody war to keep it in the U.S.A.

    What were we thinking?

  • Baby_Raptor

    Not true. Some of us get out. I ran as fast as I could at 18, and my half-sister is slowly coming around. 

  • Gus Snarp

    You know what’s really troubling about this? I can easily see people saying: “Oh, it’s just Texas, you know how they are. It’s not the national party, so it’s not that bad.” But the thing is, the population of Texas is more than 25 million. More than the population of nearly 200 countries. More than the population of Australia. Imagine if the majority party in Australia were saying similar things? Scary.

  • Fentwin

    With the extreme divisiveness and the tenor of current political rhetoric you may get your chance once more before too long.

    Just remember, not everyone below the Mason-Dixon line fits a particular stereotype.

  • Pickle

    It’s like that here in Texas, too. I’m in Austin which is mostly liberal, but the rural areas get pretty small minded (and unfortunately get most of the bad press). 

  • I know that. But as most rational people below the Mason-Dixon line know, far too many people do. And it seems like the most extreme end up in positions of political power.

  • I think there is a huge segment of the population that is actually pretty moderate. The problem is that too many are poorly equipped to actually think for themselves, and are readily manipulated by a fairly small number of extremist leaders and “opinion makers”.

  • flyb

    There is some outright crazy stuff in this document. It’s interesting that on the same page as the “Knowledge-Based Education” point (pg 12), there is this:

    “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.”

     So they want their children to “think critically” about things they disagree with….

  • Marc J

    You know what’s funny?  This story is a national disgrace and is only going to be seen by a few people on the internet on certain types of websites.  If it makes it to tv it will be on ‘sideshow’ segments or humor bits where the anchors and hosts get a good laugh for a minute and then move on to the next segment like this is a joke.  But it’s not.  It’s all too real and so are the consequences.  We have to stop treating these political stories like they are abstractions that are not worth our concern.  The political shows should do 10 minute segments on this and reporters should be questioning all of the party leaders who wrote and voted for this platform and hounding the politicians that are going to try to pa.., excuse me, are going to pass the planks in this platform. 

  • Wow.  I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.  I didn’t know that Texas had rules actually mandating ignorance – but now that I know, all those little things I’ve noticed about my Texan relatives starts to make sense.

  • Phil Bellerive

    Me too!

  • MaggieKB

    Ironically, I learned a lot of basic rhetoric and logical fallacies from fundamentalist Baptist high school. They wanted me to apply those things in such a way that it undermined evolution.  But it ended up backfiring rather badly. 

  • I live in Mississippi, and yes, many people I’ve run into fit the stereotype. Can’t reason with these types of people. 

  • I too think most people are pretty moderate. The batshit loonies may not be a majority, but they sure as hell are the loudest group. They also have power and influence.

  • Antitheist

    Texas is hard at work on becoming a 3rd world country. Can’t we just wall it off already and stop the spread of the stoopid? Theocratic retards.

  • If you’ve bid intelligence adieu,
    and think that our progress is through
    let your mind decay
    just kneel down and pray:
    “Today I will learn nothing new!”

  • Jack

    On this day – everyone is invited to – thestarofkaduri.com

  • Spherical Basterd

    And underneath it’s turtles all the way down….

  • Spherical Basterd

    Sorta like Saudi Arabia?

    Note to self: Re; business idea/get rich quit scheme. open a burka boutique in Dallas.

  • Spherical Basterd

    50 years from now our country will resemble the world portrayed in Mike Judge’s movie ‘Idiocracy’. It appears that Mr. Judge is a prophet.

  • SteveS

    Texas amy be leading the charge, but these cretins are all over the country and spreading their balmy ideas as fast as they can. Goebbles would be so proud!

  • It’s amazing.  They screech about the “sanctity of life” while the fetus is inside the woman.  Then once it’s out they demand the right to abuse it in any manner they want under the guise of “parental authority”. 

  • Paul_Robertson

    If you’re an atheist, the Republican Party isn’t even trying to reach out to you. Don’t give the satisfaction of your votes.

    While I happen to share your astonishment that any atheist would vote republican, I think that bestowing an atheist endorsement on any political party is a bad idea.
    1) it is buying into the idea of voting one’s faith and we simply don’t have the number to win that game.
    2) it is disrespectful to atheists who vote republican for what they believe to be perfectly rational reasons.
    3) it weakens our ability to lobby republican politicians for change; why would they seek to please a group whose vote is lost to them anyway?

  • Blanc_Slate

    I’m definitely bookmarking this article.

  • “Cult” implies culture. Culture requires the passing on of learned elements between generations. You can’t pass on abject ignorance- it occurs because of the failure to pass anything at all. In short, they have no culture.

  • Sheila G

    I’m still registered as a Republican in Oklahoma.  Why?  I’ve decided I can vote for the ‘least of the worst’ and keep out the theocracy as best I can.  In my district, for US Senate/US House/State Senate/State House, the ONLY candidates were Republican.  Registering as a Democrat (or Independent, Libertarian, etc) means by state law I cannot vote in any Primary elections unless I am Republican (must vote one’s party in primaries).  But in the November elections, I can vote for whom I want.  It’s still sad though, and I certainly would switch my party in a minute if there were candidates to vote for.  In this area, because of the money, the Dems won’t even fund a candidate because it would be a losing battle.

  • Mouse

    My first reaction had more to do with being an educator than an atheist.  The idea of being AGAINST higher order thinking contradicts my education courses and everything we talk about in professional development.

  • Annie

    Me too.  It is customary at the school where I teach to give class gifts to teachers at the end of the year (yes, I work at a private school).  In the card from one grade, was written, “Thank you for teaching our children to question everything and to demand and supply proof”… or something like that.  It was the nicest card I ever received.  As a science teacher, these are the things I try to drive home with my students.  Under the GOP of Texas’ platform, I don’t think I could do my job.  How can you possibly teach science without first teaching students how to think critically?

  • Alex

     And, as I already said before, cheer when that sacred life is put up on a table in public for one last IV.

  • Rgsf42

     What happens is they realize it, and realize also that they will be ostracized if they are not like the parents, so they join the very party that the complete idiots belong to.

  • Alex

    I believe that this square peg goes into the round hole, and don’t you fucking DARE to tell me otherwise! It’s my family’s tradition!

  • The GOP advocate’s argument is the

    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. 

    The GOP think the schools are trying to indoctrinate their kids and undermine parental authority by teaching kids a bunch of stuff that just isn’t true, like every sperm is sacred and people who choose to be gay will burn in hellfire etc

    So they’re not really against critical thinking, they’re against undermining parental authority and calling it critical thinking.  They really do want critical thinking.  Like the teaching all theories and then letting the kidsparents decide what the bible really says.

  • And coming up after the commercial break, we have conclusive proof that bears shit in the woods.

  •  Re: your point #2

    There IS no rational reason to vote Republican!

  • Paul_Robertson

    I’ve spoken to republican voters who genuinely believe that the economy and the nation as a whole would be better off under republican policies. What’s more, some of them are very well educated on economic theory. I personally feel that they’re wrong, but I certainly wouldn’t call them irrational.

  • TCC


  • Occam

     The somewhat good news (in Texas, at least) is that with the influx of Hispanics predicted over the next few years, it is getting bluer, and may even be a swing state by the next presidential election.  Of course, there’s still a whole lot of stupid down here; here’s a quote from one of the candidates for the Texas U.S. Senate race from a debate just last week — and this is a *Democrat*, mind you:

    “I hate to refer to this, but as you recall, the Berlin Wall was put up
    in 1961, and it was pretty effective…. Now if we have
    to use a method that is similar to the Berlin Wall, then I think we have
    to do that. I think we have to use whatever method is at our disposal
    to securing our border.” — Grady Yarbrough

    Yeah, it’s going to take a while to turn this ship around.  In the meantime, as Gus points out, this big state does have an impact on the rest of the country.  (Sorry about that, folks…). 

  •  I will not think.  I will not think!  I will not think!!

    Ahhhh…that’s better.  The moment passed when I might actually have a thought of my own.

  • Sue Blue

    All y’all know we cain’t have kids bein’ smarter than Rick Perry.  If we let kids get smart, then, next thing ya know – women n’ brown people start gittin’ all uppity, and turn librul, then atheist – and then God’ll smite us with droughts n’ heatwaves n’ hurricanes n’ tornados….n’ stuff!  What!?! That’s already happenin’?  Damn!  Better get even more stupid!

  • There’s a problem with that.

    Suppose we have the radical realists, who are saying “gravity is a physical force which can be described mathematically and effects all matter, so everyone is standing on the floor unless aided by machinery”, and then we have the radical levitationists, who are saying (while obviously standing on the floor) “I am floating 10 feet in the air, and we ought to spend a billion dollars on studying commercial applications of levitation.”

    In the modern U.S., a “moderate” would either be someone who says “both sides are wrong” — even though the radical realists are verifiably right — or else someone who says “let’s take a position halfway between the two: the levitationists are only floating 5 feet in the air, and only spend five hundred million dollars on studying levitation”.

    I would certainly agree that the U.S. is filled with “moderates” by these two definitions. We have lots of people who either refuse on principle to accept reality out of a ridiculous feeling that all statements should be given equal credence. And we also have lots of people who think that being exactly halfway between the two presented endpoints is wise, even if that makes you just as loony as one of the two endpoints.

    And this is a big problem because of the way things are framed. We are told that the Democrats are “the left”. Well, the current Democratic president has repeatedly offered to gut Social Security and Medicare while protecting the banks from the fallout of their own criminal behavior; the only thing which has prevented the former part from happening is that the Republican party has gotten so entrenched in childish denial that they turned him down automatically. A “moderate” position by the definitions used in the U.S. means taking a position between these two, which are both actually fairly far-right.

    This is the case on a whole slew of issues. Both the right and the “left” want to increase military spending. Both the right and the “left” want to reduce the number of abortions if at all possible. Both the right and the “left” want to meddle with Iran up to and including fighting a “hot” war with them if Israel demands it. Both the right and the “left” want to continue spending billions on our failed and violence-inducing “war on drugs”. The position held by “moderates” has moved accordingly.

    This is the case because what you approvingly describe as “moderate” is all too often a desire to shirk the trouble of learning about an issue, or taking any kind of action which might alter the status quo.

  • Liljoo1013

    thats an interesting statement considering that Texas is one of the most (if not the most) successful states in the country

  •  Though here in Texas you can vote for anyone in office, the district that I’m in (due to Gerrymandering) happens to be very conservative and though not too much of a surprise, heavily Republican.  Also, I don’t have the satisfaction to paying out my vote for great results, Texas is probably always going to vote conservative, it’s why down here party power shifted to accommodate the conservatives.  So as a liberal and most likely Democratic voter (though I will identify myself as an independent or something like it, the Democratic party isn’t the perfect party for liberals either) I’m disgruntled by the fact that simple votes don’t count in national elections due to the electoral college system and so my vote won’t matter – but I will still vote for Obama, I’m only a liberal and support him for personal reasons and I still want to show my support.

    And I have faith in humanity to be progressive, but sorry about your issue, it would suck to have to be in that kind of predicament.

  • Stanley Dorst

    “This is the case because what you approvingly describe as “moderate” is all too often a desire to shirk the trouble of learning about an issue, or taking any kind of action which might alter the status quo.”

    You got that exactly right!

  • Stanley Dorst

     No, they really ARE against critical thinking. They don’t want kids to think critically about creation vs. evolution – they just want them to be able to continue to believe in creation. They only pretend to be in favor of critical thinking if it allows kids to continue to believe what they grew up believing.

  • Elinor

    That should be “If you’re anything but an unthinking ‘Christian'”. It would be funny of it weren’t true. I really feel for my US friends – all of them have brains, including the Christians.

  • Jack

    Hello. Everyone is cordially invited to visit – thestarofkaduri.com

  • rich h

     That’s absurd!  The next thing you’re going to say is that the pope is Catholic!

  • Trebuchet

     Yessiree!  It’s got oil, just like the Saudis.

  • MaineMom

    As a parent I have to agree with the Republicans.  It’s not the school’s job to undermine my authority whether I’m right or wrong.  It’s the school’s job to educate.  I see too many schools trying to usurp parental authority and I suspect this is a backlash.  We may not agree with parents, but their authority should be respected.  
    I would say the only time the “state” should step in is when there is clear abuse or neglect.  
    If parents want to teach their children that homosexuality is ok, should the school teach them that they will go straight to hell?  
    I look at both sides of this issue and in my opinion, the school should let the parents, parent their own children.

  • MaineMom

    No, I think if both sides were presented, this wouldn’t be addressed.   Outcome Based Ed does not present both sides.  It’s a way to manipulate children’s beliefs and values.  That can work against YOU as a parent if that conflicts with your beliefs.  Be careful what you wish for, this can come back to bite you as a parent.

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