Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Politicization of Curricula

Kyle's opening salvo of round 2 of our debate over education policy is online here. My response will come somewhere around the end of the week, most likely.

But in the meantime, Kip points out this beaut from Wisconsin:

The three Rs would be joined by mandatory instruction on collective bargaining and the history of unions in America under a proposal introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature.
Labor unions are all for it. School groups aren't.

As I pointed to in my opening posts from our debate, one of the biggest problems with the American education system is the politicization of the curriculum process. The goal of that politicization is usually- and not surprisingly- indoctrination in favor of one or another powerful interest group. In this case, the labor unions want to increase their future strength by making sure that kids in the state of Wisconsin have a favorable impression of them when they are still young and impressionable; not surprisingly, the bill's sponsor is not advocating an equivalent curriculum standard in understanding free market economics. Put another way, and as Kip states in his maxim: "Every advocate of central planning always -- always -- envisions himself as the central planner."

This of course is the fundamental problem with top-down dictation of standards and curricula in general- there is no reason to think the feds are better at dictating such standards than the states, and ultimately the only ones capable of setting appropriate standards are the individual parents and/or students. The problem is not simply a matter of the system being run by the wrong people; the problem is that the more centrally you try to control the system, the more the system will reflect only the priorities of those at the center of the system.