Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Republicans and Critical Thinking

In my colleague Veronica’s blog, “Government: Bigger in Texas”, she discusses how the Republican Party is against teaching students critical thinking skills in public schools in the blog she posted on August 10, 2012. I pretty much had the same reaction she did and went “wait, what?” when I read this quote she posted,

“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.”

This was posted by the Republican Party in its 2012 platform.  I actually had to go back and read it again because I thought I had read it wrong. 

I agree with Veronica that it is pretty ridiculous that they tried to claim this was a ‘mistake’. I don’t see how a statement like that could be overlooked and I think they were just trying to save their butts when it became obvious that the general public did not agree with their statement.  Critical thinking is a very important skill for students to possess, especially growing up in a country like the United States where we have so many options once we branch away from our parents and move out into the world as a ‘grown-up’. People need to able to think at a higher level and assess all sides in a situation not only in the work world, but also in day to day activities. They need to be able to form their own opinions and not just think they have to be stuck believing everything their told by others, like their parents. Taking such an important and effective skill away from students is setting them up for failure once they become adults, and with public education being in the shape it is in Texas, the last thing that needs to be done is to make things worse.

In another blog I read called, “Texas GOP rejects ‘critical thinking’ skills. Really.”, Valerie Straus discusses the same issue and goes on to list out other things the Republican Party is also against, such as sex education, early childhood education, and multicultural education. Wow. Like Veronica said in her blog, Texas education is already in bad shape. With the Republicans having views like this towards education, it does not make me think things are going to get any better if they have control.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Texans and Voting

As citizens to a democratic nation, it is our duty to vote. Majority of Texans, as well as many other Americans, choose not to do so without realizing the consequences of their actions. How can we get more Texans to vote? And why is it important that we do?

To get more people to vote, we need to start getting kids more educated about government and the importance of it from an early age. If we continue making cuts to education, especially in Texas where we are already doing horrible statistically when it comes to education, this problem is only going to continually get worse. I only remember taking one government class in high school. I obviously did not learn much about it either because I came into a college government class basically clueless. If we start early on, I think we can get more involvement in the voting process overall. We could also look at ways to make voting less of a hassle, such as implementing a way to vote electronically or being able to mail in votes. More people need to make an effort to inform the public on the importance of government. We need to get some of the celebrities off the television screen and spend more money advertising something important, such as getting more Texans to vote and letting them know why it is important.

Why do we need to vote? Our vote is our voice in government and a way for us to show what we believe in and how we think our government should run. Many are quick to complain or judge the government, but when most don’t make it to the voting polls, we don’t really have a right to make complaints or pass judgement. It is our job as Texans and Americans to vote and we need to start better informing the public of the importance of it.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Stricter voting laws are not the answer!

In this blog posted by my colleague, Kyle, on June 27, 2012, he discusses how stricter voting laws, specifically those requiring a valid photo I.D., to vote would be more of a nuisance than an advantage overall. I could not agree more with his post. If we required voters to show a valid form of identification to vote, I think the overall effect would be that less people would show up to vote.

We already have a problem getting people to vote and passing a law like this would only intensify the problem. Like my colleague pointed out, we would have problems getting people to vote who were not able to afford replacing a lost photo I.D and that many people (600,000, as Kyle said) who don’t possess the proper identification to vote would be unable to. I do not think it would cut down on fraud either. It would only cause many eligible Texans to be unable to vote.

What we should be focusing on is how to get more Texans to vote, not ways to restrict them from voting.  In this article posted by Emily Cadik on June 15, 2012, she points out that only 36.4% of eligible voters voted in the 2010 presidential election, which was the lowest turnout in all the states. This is really disappointing and really makes me wonder why we are looking at making voting laws stricter when we can’t even get eligible voters to show up in the first place!  

In my opinion, before we start focusing on how to stop certain groups of people from voting, we need to focus on getting those who are able to vote to do so!