Sunday, June 15, 2008

Alabama Policy Institute's Gary Palmer ~ Educator

That I use essentially the same post title for Gary as I do for Reverend Al Sharpton might haunt Gary's dreams. Alabama Policy Institute's Gary Palmer gets space in the Mobile Press-Register to rightly lament the dreadful state of civic education in today's youth. Of course, Gary can't help but bring his own right wing views to his writing. Earning his keep at the Wingnut Welfare table, Mr. Palmer provides the obligatory reference to The Nation at Risk, manufacturing at least in part our current "crisis" in education.

Gary also cites the work of Dr. William Damon of Stanford University yet leaves off the fact he's a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. They provide the work of Dr. Jay Greene, the AJC's conservative tool's favorite source for education "policy". I expect Dr. Damon's work is being twisted and yet I'll not chase that rabbit. Here goes Gary ...

One is knowledge of ideas behind the governing system given to us by our Founding Fathers and how this constitutional republic is supposed to work. The other is a renewed sense of national pride in the great foundational principles which can inspire people to be involved citizens.

Past generations were unashamed to call this patriotism.

Damon identifies the problem in a lot of public education today: "When American history is taught and when the nature of American history is taught, it is taught from a critical perspective."

He adds, "Unfortunately, our students are learning more about our society's mistakes than its successes."

In other words, we are graduating students from our high schools and colleges with an inadequate knowledge of our history and principles, with the problem being compounded by the fact that many of these graduates have been indoctrinated with a very negative view of our nation.

The evidence of this can be seen in the current state of politics in America. Today, millions of Americans are nearly devoid of a deep understanding and appreciation for the principles on which our nation was founded and which are essential to its future.
As others have noted, American politics is no longer guided by civic-minded people engaged in an intelligent debate about the best means of achieving the common good. It is now the domain of angry activists of all types with axes to grind or whose own self-interests supersede the best interests of the nation.

Essential knowledge about America's history, our founding principles and the institutions that were created to uphold those principles, has been widely displaced by an emphasis on politically correct indoctrination that produces misinformed activists instead of educated citizens.

As the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and Common Core studies show, when it comes to ensuring that future generations have a solid knowledge and appreciation of the history and processes of the American republic, we are still a nation at risk

Let's check out Gary's last sources ... The Intercollegiate Studies Institute and Common Core are part of Gary's authority. ISI might be "non-profit" yet they are barely if all non-partisan in that their agenda is certain. Alfred S. Regnery is even the "Vice Chairman" at ISI!

The American Enterprise Institute offers the "research" of Common Core so that tells you what they are selling. Donors include the usual suspects like the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Louis Calder Foundation, and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, geared in large part these days to provide grist for the mill of "school choice".

Gary's basic concerns about the sorry state of civic education somewhat echo what former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor indicated motivated her to help promote "our Courts" yet I'm sure he'd break with Justice O'Connor over her frustrations with lack of time to teach civics and critical thinking.

Gary's rant is classic wingnuttery. I'd suggest "knowledge of ideas behind the governing system given to us by our Founding Fathers and how this constitutional republic is supposed to work" would be a tremendous idea and yet I think our full grown "leaders" ought to brush up on this actually. Gary dares lash out at "angry activists of all types with axes to grind"?

Does Gary not accept that it might be wise to teach "a very negative view of our nation" when " our society's mistakes" are in fact undeniable? Where's the line Gary? Is there a ratio? To get wise voters for our future shouldn't kids learn about the times their government has behaved less than honorably?

Finally, Gary's call to "patriotism" is noted. I've written on Gary here, here, here, .. He's a shill, as would likely be anyone affiliated with the Alabama Policy Institute. "Paid to pander!" applies I'd argue. John Gunn

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