I don’t actually care if a politician has gone to college or not. What I care more about is a person’s devotion to lifelong learning; to intellectual achievement and enlightenment; to the quest for truth and for the betterment of our country as a whole — whether that is through a university or fields of interest outside of the scope of a formal education. It is with that value for learning in mind that I was horrified at not just the financial cuts to the University of Wisconsin System, but at
presumed presidential candidate Scott Walker’s ham-fisted attempt to gut a 111 year old ideal, codified into law, of educational and social service. I am, of course, referring to “The Wisconsin Idea,” which is set forth in Wisconsin state statutes as follows:
36.01 (2): The mission of the system is to develop human resources, to discover and disseminate knowledge, to extend knowledge and its application beyond the boundaries of its campuses and to serve and stimulate society by developing in students heightened intellectual, cultural and humane sensitivities, scientific, professional and technological expertise and a sense of purpose. Inherent in this broad mission are methods of instruction, research, extended training and public service designed to educate people and improve the human condition. Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.
But for Walker, this progressive, altruistic vision of higher learning just will not do. Will not do at all! In his last biennial budget proposal, Walker made changes to the statute (underlined is what he would add, and
lined-through is what he proposes striking):
When he was caught sneaking this non-financial tidbit into a budget bill, the Mange-Pated-Weasel-Provocateur first defended the change at an event in DePere. But when the heat started to grow and he was questioned by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal’s Daniel Bice, the Unintimidated (except by the truth) Walker did the only thing he knows how to do well: Lie. Lie like the whore he is waiting to get his pipes cleaned by his billionaire buddies. He and his campaign claimed it was “a drafting error” (blame to be shoveled onto some mid-level flunky). He even tweeted the same lie.
The Wisconsin Idea will continue to thrive. The final version of budget will fix drafting error – Mission statement will include WI Idea.
— Governor Walker (@GovWalker) February 4, 2015
As with all lies, the truth will eventually come out (which is probably why he wants it deleted from The Wisconsin Idea), and rather than some mid-level nobody’s “drafting error,” the changes were specifically requested by the Scott Walker administration!
But why? Why strike “truth” and “public service” from a long thought-out, historic and beloved example of our shared values?
The “Why” certainly is an important question, but is it the most important? What about “Who?” As in, “Who wanted the change?” Or maybe “What” is even more important: “What is gained?” Who, What, and Why all tie into the big picture. This seemingly little move by an intellectually bankrupt twerp with presidential ambitions may be more important than we know. Better get out your tinfoil hats, friends. It’s going to be a bumpy ride!
Here’s where things get more sinister: Scott Walker’s “tweaks” to the Wisconsin Idea aren’t the only little fixes being made to public education and it’s ideals. To wit:
Back in September of 2014, The Huffington Post reported on massive student protests in a Denver, Colorado suburb. More than a thousand students were protesting the proposed censorship of Advanced College Placement history courses that conservative members of the county’s school board were proposing.
Review criteria shall include the following: instructional materials should present the most current factual information accurately and objectively. Theories should be distinguished from fact. Materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights. Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law. Instructional materials should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage. Content pertaining to political and social movements in history should present balanced and factual treatment of the positions. ~ Jefferson County School Board Proposal (emphasis mine)
I’ll refer to it later, but remember what Julie Williams, the conservative school board member had to say in part defense of her proposed policy in a press release on her Facebook page:
APUSH rejects the history that has been taught in the country for generations. It has an emphasis on race, gender, class, ethnicity, grievance and American-bashing while simultaneously omitting the most basic structural and philosophical elements considered essential to the understanding of American History for generations.
Williams also rails against “Common Core” and vilifies David Coleman, the “president and chief executive of the College Board” and “One of the main characters behind the Common Core”.
But it’s not just in Colorado. Conservative activists across the country are trying to quash the courses, The Republican National Committee has even gone so far as to condemn the AP curriculum. Note that the verbiage is slightly different, but it makes the same points and in much the same order:
WHEREAS, the College Board (a private organization unaccountable to the public) has recently released a new Framework for the APUSH course that reflects a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects;
And it’s not just college-level Advanced Placement courses. In 2010 the Texas School Board did a complete rebranding of social studies and history. According to PBS and the Associated Press, changes included:
- Diluting the rationale for the separation of church and state in a high school government class, noting that the words were not in the Constitution.
- Inflating the Christian influences of the nation’s founding fathers.
- Requiring that the U.S. be referred to as a “constitutional republic” rather than a “democratic republic.”
- Highlighting conservative groups and personalities while downplaying liberal ones.
The Dallas Morning News notes Republican board member Don McLeroy as claiming the panel was “trying to make up for the liberal-slanted curriculum now being used in schools.”
What’s important to catch from all of this is the single-mindedness of the various talking points. The conservatives all claim they just want to be fair; that they love their country and don’t want bad things said about it; etc.
What it really is about is their notion of “American Exceptionalism;” simplistically meaning that by being born here we are automatically better than anyone else; but really meaning that you’re born into what you deserve and if that isn’t white with money, then you’re SOL.
Religious zealots, political charlatans, and opportunistic pundits… they have all of them been deceived; for the billionaires that fund them and their efforts are only interested in the absolute power of an American aristocracy. Their unearned privilege will be a lot easier to keep and maintain if we don’t know where we came from, how we got here, or the exceptional things we can accomplish when we understand how powerful we are when we share an ideal like The Wisconsin Idea. And that is why it is under attack.