Texas GOP: No More Critical Thinking in Schools

By Liana Loewus — June 28, 2012 1 min read
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Teachers, you may want to be sitting down for this one.

The 2012 Texas Republican Party Platform, adopted June 9 at the state convention in Forth Worth, seems to take a stand against, well, the teaching of critical thinking skills. Read it for yourself:

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.

As a top commenter on a Reddit thread wrote about the language, “I was absolutely sure this had to be an elaborate fake ... .” It’s not.

We at Teacher think this may be a kind of first. While the push for accountability via standardized testing—which the current Democratic administration has stood behind—has frequently been characterized as potentially undermining instruction in critical thinking, blatant opposition to teaching students to think deeply has not often (ever?) been a part of the policy conversation.

In that same section of the document, labeled “Educating Our Children,” the Texas Republicans go on to state that they “oppose mandatory pre-school and Kindergarten.” And, in a statement that human rights groups (and many others) will find difficult to stomach, the platform says, “We recommend that local school boards and classroom teachers be given more authority to deal with disciplinary problems. Corporal punishment is effective and legal in Texas.”

While corporal punishment is in fact legal in Texas—and 18 other states, according to The Center for Effective Discipline—we’re still poking around to find the research backing its effectiveness in the Lone Star State. Nothing so far. Readers, let us know what you come across.

(HT: Huffington Post.)

UPDATE: A spokesman for the Republican Party of Texas said that the “critical thinking skills” language should not have been included in the document after the words “values clarification,” reports Talking Points Memo. The members of the subcommittee “regret” the mistake, he told TPM—however, since the platform was approved, “it cannot be corrected until the next state convention in 2014.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.