The Republican Party of Texas’ recently adopted 2012 platform contains a plank that opposes the teaching of “critical thinking skills” in schools. The party says it was a mistake, but is now stuck with the plank until the next state convention in 2014.
The plank in question, on “Knowledge-Based Education,” reads as follows:
We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.
Elsewhere in the document, the platform stipulates that “[e]very Republican is responsible for implementing this platform.”
Contacted by TPM on Thursday, Republican Party of Texas (RPT) Communications Director Chris Elam said the “critical thinking skills” language made it into the platform by mistake.
“[The chairman of the Education Subcommittee] indicated that it was an oversight of the committee, that the plank should not have included ‘critical thinking skills’ after ‘values clarification,’” Elam said. “And it was not the intent of the subcommittee to present a plank that would have indicated that the RPT in any way opposed the development of critical thinking skills.”
Elam said the members of the subcommittee “regret” the oversight, but because the mistake was part of the platform approved by the convention, “it cannot be corrected until the next state convention in 2014.”
TPM asked Elam what the intent of subcommittee had been in including the “Knowledge-Based Education” plank.
“I think the intent is that the Republican Party is opposed to the values clarification method that serves the purpose of challenging students beliefs and undermine parental authority,” he said.
Here are some other notable planks for the RPT’s 2012 platform:
On the Patriot Act:
We urge review and revision of those portions of the USA Patriot Act, and related executive and military orders and directives that erode constitutional rights and essential liberties of citizens. Emergency War Powers and Martial Law Declarations - We strongly urge Congress to repeal the War Powers Act and end our declared state of emergency. Any Declaration of Martial law should be approved by Congress.
On “Livestock and Pet Locations”:
We oppose a mandatory animal identification system.
On the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA):
We oppose this act through which the federal government would coerce religious business owners and employees to violate their own beliefs and principles by affirming what they consider to be sinful and sexually immoral behavior.
On Campaign Contributions:
We support full disclosure of the amounts and sources of any campaign contributions to political candidates, whether contributed by individuals, political action committees, or other entities.
On the “Voter Rights Act” [sic]:
We urge that the Voter Rights Act of 1965 codified and updated in 1973 be repealed and not reauthorized.
We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle, in public policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction or belief in traditional values.
On the UN Treaty on the Rights of the Child:
We unequivocally oppose the United States Senate’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Read the whole thing here.
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com