High school according to the Kochs

No Koch in Schools

What could possibly be wrong with allowing high-spending right-wing billionaires to dictate what’s taught to high school kids?

Public high school students in North Carolina will be taught from a lesson plans and worksheets prepared by a organization closely tied to the billionaire Koch brothers, if the state’s Department of Public Instruction gets its way. According to the Raleigh News and Observer, the Virginia-based Bill of Rights Institute received a “$100,000, sole-source contract with [North Carolina] to help develop materials for teachers to use in a course on founding principles that the state requires students to take.”

The N&O also notes that the organization receives funding directly from David Koch and from two Koch family foundations, although, if anything, this description understates the Institute’s ties to the conservative billionaires. Two of the Institutes four board members are employed by Koch entities — one is a senior vice president at Koch Industries and another is director of higher education programs at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation — and many of the Institute’s other top leaders also appear likely to push a political agenda in line with the Koch brothers’ anti-government views. Board member Todd Zywicki, is a George Mason law professor and a leading opponent of Wall Street reforms such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Institute’s president, David J. Bobb, founded two centers at Hillsdale College, a conservative institution of higher education that proclaims its opposition to “the dehumanizing, discriminatory trend of so called ‘social justice’ and ‘multicultural diversity.’”

A Teacher’s Best Friend
The Department of Public Instruction “highly recommend[s]” that North Carolina school districts use the Institute’s instruction materials to teach the state’s students about America’s founding principles and the Constitution itself — and, on the surface, the materials look quite impressive. They consist of 391 pages of lesson plans, worksheets, student activities and answer keys for teachers, organized into “ten instructional modules” and a “final project” designed to cover and entire semester of coursework. The lesson plans tie each module to particular objectives laid out in the state’s curriculum. And many of the lessons taught by the materials are unobjectionable, or even quite important. A unit on the rights of the accused, for example, emphasizes the principle that “it was better for guilty people to go free than for the judicial system to condemn even one innocent person.”

“One might say the Founders were not only concerned with property rights,” a unit on that subject proclaims, “they were passionate about them.” Students are taught that “property rights secure freedom” and that James Madison “criticized excessive taxes.”

The Bill of Rights Institute staffer in charge of developing its “curriculum resources” is a former schoolteacher who taught in North Carolina schools. It shows. The Institute was clearly aware of the demands teachers face to submit lesson plans that comply with state standards, to break lessons down into manageable chunks, and to teach higher level reasoning skills beyond memorization and basic comprehension. Many teachers, confronted with the task of planning to teach a new subject matter, will no doubt be grateful that the Institute’s materials exist.

Yet the materials also push a very clear agenda in subtle — and often not-so-subtle — ways. “One might say the Founders were not only concerned with property rights,” a unit on that subject proclaims, “they were passionate about them.” Students are taught that “property rights secure freedom” and that James Madison “criticized excessive taxes.” Much of the materials focus on matters of particular concern to well-moneyed groups such as land developers. The Supreme Court case upholding Obamacare is painted as the culmination of a grand expansion of federal power, even though it actually reduced Congress’ ability to legislate.

3 thoughts on “High school according to the Kochs

  1. Without property rights Capitalism fails. (Yeah!!) It’s a question concerning what the “commons” are defined as.
    The $1.1 trillion dollar spending bill passed on Saturday night 56-40. 31 Democrats voted for it. 21 Democrats voted against it. Sanders and Warren both voted against it. Feinstein voted “present.” We know that McConnell stuck the clause in allowing personal political contributions to rise from $32,400 to $324,000.
    What we do not know is who put the bank bail out clause in? Nobody has owned up to it and nobody is willing to say who it was. The smart money thinks that it was our hero Harry Reid. The leadership in the Democratic Party is horrendous.
    Which leads to this question: what does Hillary think about this lousy bill? As usual Hillary says nothing when it matters.

  2. At least the Cock boys’ daddy wasn’t one of Hitler’s financiers, like Bush, Ford and Kennedy. He was Stalin’s.

  3. Isn’t it odd that the guy who founded the John Birch Society helped to finance the Soviet union? He probably figured out that the Russian oligarchy wanted to keep everything that they could steal from the people all for themselves.

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