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November 4th, 2004


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10:23 pm - More thoughts on moving forward
A friend laid out his ideas for building the infrastructure to bring true liberalism back into this nation's government. In a comment to him, I started these thoughts:

He talked about needing think tanks, policy institutes, and foundations. We need political scientists, economists, and philosophers. I think he left out education. All those other things are aimed at the people that are currently voters. Since the country is largely a middle that's leaning right, we aren't going to make a lot of progress trying to move that mass. (We should keep trying, yes, but the effort will not pay big dividends.)

What we need to tip the scales is to add more people to our side and that means getting them young. Already our education system does a decent job teaching liberal values: share, take turns, don't hit, respect others even when they are different.

We need to build on that and make sure that the people that are becoming voters are leaning more toward our side. This is, in my mind, where the ground war begins. We fight the holding actions, we bolster the local officials, but to win in the long run, we need to change the battleground.

The conservatives are doing this to some extent already. Vouchers for taking kids out of public schools is a way to move the money (read: power) from the public good to personal control. These fights can be won and are the important ones to win for the future.

It starts with the kids.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

(21 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:von_krag
Date:November 4th, 2004 10:14 pm (UTC)
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Gee Peter, here I'm thinking that liberal and in some cases leftist views are all the rage in K-12. I've looked at the texts that Judy and Rachel R have to work with. IMO feel goodism mixed in with western culture guilt.
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From:jbru
Date:November 5th, 2004 12:10 am (UTC)
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Precisely. This is where liberal/leftist/progressive politicos can have a great impact, IMHO. I think this is a good thing and the way to make this country and world better for the majority of people living in it.
From:joel_rosenberg
Date:November 5th, 2004 04:27 am (UTC)
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Yup; and as long as that's the case -- as long as the public schools are, in effect, indoctrination centers for the liberal/leftist/progressive politicos -- it only makes sense for more conservative folks to look for ways to defang them. (Or, in the case of states like Texas, reverse the trend.)

Perhaps it would be better to get much of the politics out of the curriculum, and make the public schools centers for education, instead?
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From:90_percent_sure
Date:November 5th, 2004 07:04 am (UTC)
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Bring back the Scopes Monkey Trial!

From:joel_rosenberg
Date:November 5th, 2004 09:58 am (UTC)
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Well, no. Keeping evolution -- science -- out of the schools was a political/religious decision. What we've come down to on issues of science, all in all, favors academic decisions. If there was, for example, some actual science in "scientific creationism", there'd be ample reason to let it in. The argument against it isn't that it's politically incorrect, but that it's bad science. (As would be, for that matter, teaching evolutionary theory as though the present snapshot is graven in stone, rather than a increasingly-less-fuzzy-but-still-fuzzy snapshot that's evolving as new things are learned.)

Which isn't to say that all issues involving science teaching are that easy to separate from politics -- that's just an easy one.
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From:90_percent_sure
Date:November 5th, 2004 10:06 am (UTC)
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Oh.

Which do you prefer: the comma or the period?
From:joel_rosenberg
Date:November 5th, 2004 02:42 pm (UTC)
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I prefer the dash -- and I've been told I overuse them.

I've also been told that I'm arrogant, like I'd give a damn what people think. :)
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From:jbru
Date:November 5th, 2004 07:56 am (UTC)
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The cool thing from my perspective is that getting politics out of education actually furthers my political agenda. See, getting politics out means having a curriculum based on getting people to think for themselves and discover the truth. Toss in a bit of a lean towards getting along with others (something the schools already do to, most likely, keep the social interactions of the students manageable) and you have a recipe for a liberal voter.
From:joel_rosenberg
Date:November 5th, 2004 09:53 am (UTC)
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"Getting politics out of education", though, begs the question. Just to take a minor point, consider the study of Kwanzaa, which is about to be indulged in, over the next couple of months, in public schools from coast to coast.

Whether it's a good thing or a bad thing, Kwanzaa is an expression of AA nationalism, and a deliberate attempt to create a set of principles for black people to order their relationships and build their lives. It's the only holiday I'm aware of that is specifically based on race. (That doesn't mean that it's a bad thing, in and of itself.)

Actually, there's another -- Columbus Day. How it's taught -- whether as a key moment in the exploration of the New World or as the first part of the invasion of Turtle Island by white conquerors -- is a political decision, just as whether or not (and how) to teach about Kwanzaa is.

Literature? Huck Finn, Rubyfruit Jungle, Shakespeare (Merchant of Venice, anyone?), The Color Purple. It's a political decision (not, necessarily, a wrong one) that there's more copies of The Color Purple studied in US public schools than every work by Shakespeare put together, and Huck Finn thrown in.

[User Picture]
From:jbru
Date:November 5th, 2004 03:46 pm (UTC)
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It's the only holiday I'm aware of that is specifically based on race.

Joel, aren't you Jewish?

Columbus Day is a good example of what I mean. The best method of educating about it, in my opinion, is to start from the Western European viewpoint and then acknowledge and inform about differing viewpoints without requiring a conclusion. That emphasizes that the truth of the matter is broader than any one representation.

On literature: As Pete Seeger said, anytime you are getting a group of people together, whether to watch football or listen to a concert, you're in politics. So yeah, the selection of pieces fo literature is going to be a political choice. Good education, again IMHO, recognizes and that and includes the discussion in its curriculum.
From:joel_rosenberg
Date:November 6th, 2004 05:02 am (UTC)
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Joel, aren't you Jewish?
Why, yes. I'm familiar with many Jewish holidays, and none of them are based on race.
[User Picture]
From:jbru
Date:November 6th, 2004 06:57 am (UTC)
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Fred corrected me last night: while Jews are a people, they are not a race. My mistake.
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From:von_krag
Date:November 5th, 2004 04:46 pm (UTC)
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I'm not sure what you mean by liberal/leftist/progressive anymore. I think Scoop Jackson and Barry Goldwater as classic 18th century liberals. Right nowI see these terms being co-opted by ppl who want and demand more State control over the rest of the populace with a small self elected elite ruling. I see these pics as a prime example: http://www.zombietime.com/sf_rally_november_3_2004/ Forex ANSWER is a Marxist Communist front, do we as a nation want a communist country? IMO no but then I've spent to many years cleaning us after Marxism and it's messes.
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From:mizzlaurajean
Date:November 4th, 2004 10:26 pm (UTC)
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You can't start with the kids if the money ain't there. And it ain't gonna be there with this administration. Besides you can't go preaching this kind of stuff to other peoples kids. Your over simplifying it. Sharing, taking turns etc are not "liberal values" they are values and how you must behave social rules that have nothing to do with the ideaology that goes into personal political philosophies.

One thing I have learned about most conservatives. They care about others, they care about those less fortunate then others. Most of the ones I know volunteer, go to fundraisers, and donate money. But this is how they beleive we should fund social service programs. They simply do not think tax money is the way to fund them or that government is the way to fund it. Now I don't agree with this. And my point is that in working with republicans it helps to recognize that we may want many of the same things and that the comprimise is in how we get there. Keep in mind I think George Bush is a sorry excuse for any political party but there are reasonable republicans out there, some even voted for Kerry.

Also if a child's parents are republican or democrat the chances are real good their children will adopt their perspective and there is nothing you can do to change that. Not always but mostly.
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From:jbru
Date:November 5th, 2004 12:20 am (UTC)
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I disagree. I think that, even without the money, that instilling liberal ideas into kids is only possible through education. It will harder without the funding necessary, yes, but not impossible.

Yes, I'm oversimplifying. But I believe that the things I listed are at least as much liberal values as "strong families" and the like are conservative values. If they can claim broad concepts for their side, I can do the same.

It doesn't stop there, however, those are the grade-school bits, the social rules we have to live by. Further down the line are the Bill of Rights, Martin Luther King and the progess made in the '60s.

You are right, however, that many Republican people think that they are doing the best thing for the country and the world. And I believe that the majority of them are. It is like someone else said, these are not dumb people. There are as many intelligent conservatives are there are intelligent liberals.

Those are the people that have made up their minds already, though. I don't think we'll get far trying to change them. We can win a few by pointing out that we agree with them on many things and that the Republican party actually disagrees with us all.

While kids do tend to follow their parents we're never going to break that cycle without getting those kids to think for themselves. Only way to do that is education. It's not the only thing to do in order to get things moving where we want them, but it's the long-term thing that will pay off the most down the line.
From:joel_rosenberg
Date:November 5th, 2004 04:31 am (UTC)
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There's where I think you go wrong. Getting kids to think for themselves <> adoption of leftist agitprop. (Even when, at least arguably, the leftist agitprop is fair and accurate.)

That said, public schools and academe have long since been outed as leftist, generally, and that's part of the problem that they have in making claims on the much-more-conservative-all-in-all public's money. (Granted, that's not true in Minneapolis, where the body politic is very liberal/leftish -- but it isn't just Minneapolis taxpayers' money that the MPS wants.)
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From:jbru
Date:November 5th, 2004 08:05 am (UTC)
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I disagree. People who think for themselves are unlikely to buy into any message without examination. "Leftist agitprop," as you call it, is aimed at bringing forth the truth more often than that of the right (at least in the expression of the right that is embodied in the current administration). When people are demanding transparency from their government, I think things will be going in ways of which I approve.
From:joel_rosenberg
Date:November 5th, 2004 10:00 am (UTC)
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People who think for themselves are unlikely to buy into any message without examination.
I think that defines the problem away, and ignores that the most persuasive messages are ones that come in under the radar.

That said, I'm in favor of transparency in lots of things, government included.
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From:jbru
Date:November 5th, 2004 03:48 pm (UTC)
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ignores that the most persuasive messages are ones that come in under the radar.

Now you begin to understand the totality of my evil plan! Muhuwahahahaha!
From:joel_rosenberg
Date:November 6th, 2004 05:01 am (UTC)
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Trouble is, whether or not it's really a plan -- it certainly functions like one -- or evil, the other side is already onto it. One of the prime motivators of the choice in education movement is the understanding by folks who disagree with you that the public schools are engaged in your flavor of political education.

That doesn't particularly hurt the ability of the public schools to get local money in liberal cities, like Minneapolis -- but it makes selling dramatic increased in federal funding a hard sell. While, granted, President Bush did sign a bill that increased federal funding for public schools dramatically (and got criticized, even so, for not providing enough money), there were strings attached -- requiring schools to demonstrate success on educational matters, and not just indoctrinational ones.
[User Picture]
From:jbru
Date:November 6th, 2004 07:06 am (UTC)
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Overall, while I think the public schools are a place where political education could happen, I see your point that overt (and even covert) efforts to make them (more) so isn't what I'm aiming for.

I think it comes down to that free-thinking point. Martin was talking about "frames" as used by the political spin doctors elsewhere. I see education as a means to combatting those simplifications of issues. People who know how to examine new ideas for truth and relevancy won't fall for the most obvious of these. (E.g., Saddam was behind 9/11.)

So I think increasing the effectiveness of education (which is superior to increasing funding) will make it less likely that the electorate will be sold a bill of goods. This should be politically neutral but I think that it will have the overall effect of countering one of the main strategies the Republicans have built up over the years. When things balance out, it should also keep the Democrats in line.

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