The Missouri GOP convention was held last weekend in Springfield. In addition to delegates to the national convention, the convention also voted on the state GOP platform. The education portion of the platform was a mixture of the expected GOP issues like; restricting access to porn on public school computers, rejecting school based clinics that dispense contraceptives or abortion counseling, and acknowledging the right of parents to raise their children according to their own convictions, but also some planks that could have come right out of the liberal left's playbook like merit pay and supporting policies to reduce bullying in school. The comments that were submitted by the MEW editors which were widely circulated and supported prior to the convention were not included in the platform presented Saturday. All of this begs the question: Who wrote this portion of the platform and what criteria did they use to decide what went in there?
Any conservative who has been paying attention to education lately knows that anti-bullying policies are one of the prime tools for pushing a LGBT agenda into schools. It was therefore surprising to see this plank in the MO GOP platform and I can honestly say there were many tried an true republicans there who were shocked to see it in there last Saturday. They were also none too happy about the plank that said republicans would support systems that grant parents the ability to help their children "escape" failing schools. This statement says so much about what is wrong in the thinking today about our school system, even in the republican party.
First of all, the average parent does not want to look at the school system as a prison to be escaped from. If they do feel locked into it, that is the first problem that should be addressed. Schools should be a community developed and supported service, not a mandatory sentence to an inadequate government designed and run system. If it is not working, most parents do not want to escape from it, as that implies having to move away from their community or abandoning one aspect of their community while still living there. Most parents want to "fix" their failing schools and be given tools and options for doing so. Fixing their schools is also part of a plan to fix their community which is good for everyone. Escaping failing communities is what causes urban blight which does not seem to be something republicans would want to support. It may just seem like semantics, but the word choice reveals the underlying beliefs about education.
(The full text of the education platform is included at the end of this post.)
Before the final gavel fell, however, there was one shining moment for education. Some very diligent republicans would not let the education platform stand as is and submitted a resolution calling for republicans to reject Common Core Standards or any national standard being imposed upon the state from outside Missouri. The resolution also called on Missouri republicans to push for the abolishment of the US Dept of Education. The only discussion on the resolution was in favor of it so it was quickly put to a vote and almost unanimously passed by the delegates.
Here is the actual text of the resolution.
As Republicans, we reject Jimmy Carter’s U.S. Department of Education and vow to eliminate the department. Also, we reject President Obama’s Race to the Top and Common Core Curriculum to establish a national curriculum.
The establishment clearly has its own agenda. But what happened Saturday shows that the voice of the people can be heard. We just have to keep standing up and standing together.
From the Missouri Republican Platform
Educating Our Children
Education is a true vehicle of opportunity. The education of Missouri's children is much more than the first fiscal priority mandated in the Missouri Constitution. It is our moral imperative. Therefore, the Missouri Republican Party SUPPORTS:
- Efforts at the state and federal levels to adopt a fair system that grants parents the ability to help their children escape failing schools and attend schools of their choice—whether private, charter, or public.
- Quick action to address the urban education crisis that has already sacrificed the futures of generations of young people.
- The foundation formula that funds education based on the needs of our children rather than the taxing capacity of a school district.
- Education savings accounts that are tax exempt and may be used for meeting education expenses for each individual or family member without penalty for withdrawal.
- Local school boards in their efforts to guarantee quality instruction and to remove an unfit teacher.
- Reforming teacher tenure to ensure that the best teachers, regardless of their length of employment, remain in classrooms.
- Establishing a merit pay system that rewards the most effective teachers.
- Policies to reduce bullying in schools.
- Policies that stress the importance of parents in the education system and allow and encourage parents to play an active role in their local education system.
- The authority of parents as the primary educators of their children in all matters, including morality and sexual responsibility.
- The fundamental right of parents to raise their children according to the convictions of their family and faith, to be the primary authority to determine and direct the nurturing, health care, education, guidance, discipline, and moral upbringing of their children including, the ability to home-school or send children to faith-based schools free of burdensome government regulations.
- Protecting children in our public schools and any public entity where computers and the Internet are made readily available from pornography on the Internet, with local entities choosing the proper filter.
- Rejecting the establishment of school-based clinics/health links that dispense contraceptives and provide abortion counseling.
- Requiring the informed consent of a parent or guardian before providing health, mental health or substance abuse treatment services to minor students in public schools.
- Empowering local school districts to determine how best to handle the teaching of creationism and the theory of evolution.
- Encouraging people to use their real life experience to teach in elementary and secondary schools.