Thursday, October 29, 2015

Missouri HB 1490 Work Group wrap-up

I made a few comments at the final hearing for the HB1490 Curriculum Work Groups. There were enough cameras there that I'm surprised that no video has surfaced yet, but best as I can remember, this is what I'd said off the top of my head:

"Fortunately for you all I didn't come prepared to make a statement, so I really will be brief.

If a State Curriculum is actually needed, and seeing as we're all here it looks like it has been decided it is, then it's a matter of self governance. The standards should be developed by people from across the state who are representative of their communities, who have children and actual interests in the standards, rather than simply a financial stake in their use. It would be entirely inappropriate for a state's curriculum standards to be formed by external groups, whether Common Core or any other, and imposed upon our communities as answers received from external authorities.

But worst of all is the implied assumption that We The People of Missouri would be somehow unwilling or unable to develop quality curriculum standards ourselves. That is not only an insult to the people of this, or any state, but it presumes a level of technical difficulty and mystery to the subject that is inappropriate and untrue.

Our group, History 6-12, was formed from intelligent and capable parents, teachers, principals and professors from around the state, with widely varying views. Our group was one of the few successful groups where everyone of its members is in full support of the standards we created.

Our success might have been helped by the fact that we had no external standards or agenda to compete with, and no agency facilitators were participating in our meetings. But far more importantly, our Chair, Brian Schultz, did an excellent job in leading the group and in seeing to it that all issues were given a good and fair hearing. All of the members of our group were intent upon creating quality standards for our students education, and that enabled us to work together without our particular differences getting in the way. Everyone saw to it that all views were respectfully listened to, questioned, debated and voted upon. Over the course of the year, there were many good discussions and debates, some of which I lost, but none unfairly - which is how it should be - and Missouri's students will be the winners from it.

I'm proud of the standards we created and am proud to have my name attached to it.

And that I think that about covers it."

Monday, October 12, 2015

Happy Columbus Day!

Happy Columbus Day!
"In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue..."

If you don't know the rest, or refuse to repeat it, your ignorance is too deep for me to fix in so little time and space. I won't bother a protest, qualification, any hint of apology or take any other sort of a defensive stand on what is and should be recognized and celebrated on this day.

What we like to think of Captain Kirk doing, Christopher Columbus actually did, and he did it without electronic wizardry, without science officers or communication specialists or even replaceable extras in red shirts, but with only wooden boats, a compass and a number of guesses about how the extent of the world might be shaped.

He and some ninety crew, set out on an uncharted ocean with the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, and it was incredibly brave and bold, and resulted in Western Civilization expanding westward around the globe, and even entertaining the notion that we today need to defend or justify that, is not only stupidity on stilts, but a repudiation of all that is good.

If that isn't laudable and self-evident bad-assery to you, begone and darken my door no more.

In fourteen hundred ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

He had three ships and left from Spain; He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

He sailed by night; he sailed by day; He used the stars to find his way.

A compass also helped him know How to find the way to go....