The Opinionated Bitch – On Critical Thinking Skills

The Opinionated Bitch – On Critical Thinking Skills

Seriously, I don’t know whether to give these people the Opinionated Bitch Darwin Award or put it in the “You Can’t Make this *Stuff* Up” file, but the Texas Republican Party actually wrote the following into their 2012 State Party Platform on education:

Knowledge-Based Education – 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.

Go back.  Read it again.  I had to… about 12 frackin’ times because I couldn’t believe that what I had long suspected was really true and someone had been stupid enough to put it in writing.  Let me give you an annotated interpretation: “We advocate telling your children WHAT to think, not HOW to think for themselves.  Knowledge is a dangerous thing.  Religious dogma and revisionist history are the only acceptable teachings in Texas.  Teaching kids how to think means they might challenge their teachers’ and parents’ beliefs, causing your children to grow up and vote Democratic.  Independent thought will not be tolerated.”

Breathe.  Seriously.  You’re not having a coronary.  Trust me.

I imagine my life if I had listened to my mother and believed it was acceptable to call African-Americans the “N” word.  Thank goodness my father was there with competing ideas and taught me it was stupid to base a human being’s worth on the amount of melanin in their skin, or lack thereof.  Two competing positions on a single issue and I was not only permitted, but encouraged to decide for myself what to believe.  I’m a common sense kind of gal, and the whole ‘melanin’ argument made a lot of sense to me, especially after Dad and I sat down together and watched a documentary called Children Session.

I was the same age as the children in the documentary when it was filmed. What made this even closer to my heart, was this exercise in diversity training took place in Riceville, Iowa, just north of where I was born and raised.  It had a profound effect on me, and it is 15 minutes well-spent to watch.  More than 40 years later, it still brings tears to my eyes to see these wonderful, cooperative, bright kids learn it’s okay to discriminate against someone for inconsequential differences, each eventually on the receiving end, to learn a lesson in the hardest way, and finally to come back to a place of reason and sanity.  These kids learned this lesson on their own.  They weren’t taught what to think.  It was an exercise in being taught how to think. I’ve cherished the lesson and I’m betting they have too.

But back to the good people of Texas… their proposed education policy opposes some pretty dangerous things, like early childhood education, sex education, and multicultural education.  They do, however, support “school subjects with emphasis on the Judeo-Christian principles upon which America was founded.”  It gets worse.

School Health Care – We urge legislators to prohibit reproductive health care services, including counseling, referrals, and distribution of condoms and contraception through public schools. We support the parents’ right to choose, without penalty, which medications are administered to their minor children. We oppose medical clinics on school property except higher education and health care for students without parental consent.

(Note: Texas ‘enjoys’ one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country.)

U.S. Department of Education – Since education is not an enumerated power of the federal government, we believe the Department of Education (DOE) should be abolished.

(Stupidity isn’t an ‘enumerated power of the federal government’ either, but it isn’t stopping these mental giants. **end sarcasm.)

Textbook Review – Until such time as all texts are required to be approved by the SBOE, each ISD that uses non-SBOE approved instructional materials must verify them as factually and historically correct. Also the ISD board must hold a public hearing on such materials, protect citizen’s right of petition and require compliance with TEC and legislative intent. Local ISD boards must maintain the same standards as the SBOE.

“Verify them as factually and historically correct”?  They’re shittin’ me, right? This from the folks who brought you the “War of Northern Aggression” (known by Liberals as the Civil War) and the idea that this War of Northern Aggression was fought over “states’ rights” and not slavery  (known as complete and utter bullshit by Liberals and certifiably sane people everywhere).  You see, if they are permitted to rewrite history and force kids to accept the Christian Bible and the ‘founding documents’, as the only acceptable documents of fact as they call them, then we can go back to considering all African-Americans as 3/5 of a person, take the franchise away from us pesky vagina-havers and repeal things like the Voting Rights Act and The Civil Rights act in less than a generation.  Simply put: these kids will never know the difference.

If I were put in charge of institutions of higher learning outside of the State of Texas, I would mandate that any child coming out of the Texas school system be required to pass a competency test in basic history and civics because I’m here to tell you, if Texas Republicans get their way, these kids will be grossly unprepared to enter the rest of the civilized world.  They will be unprepared to do anything but parrot their indoctrinated view of the world and think for themselves.  It all seems a bit cultish to me.

A further thought on how critical thinking skills are being demonized in the modern world…

In 2009, I was “downsized” and lost a great job like millions of other Americans in the Great Recession.  I sent out literally hundreds of resumes, only to learn that very few companies were interested in a middle-aged woman with two college degrees and more than 20 years of executive experience.  After more than a year, one company granted me an interview.  Within five minutes of sitting down, the interview was abruptly terminated and I was thanked for seeing them.  Figuring I had nothing to lose, I asked the Human Resource Manager what I had done in a span of five minutes to be hastily shown the door.  She sat down, sighed heavily and finally looked me in the eye responding, “It’s your critical thinking skills.”

“What’s wrong with my critical thinking skills?” I asked, mouth agape.

“You have them.”  I completely deflated, sitting down before falling down and asked her to explain.  She sighed heavily again and stated the following:

“I’m so sorry.  You’re perfect for the job, but I’ve been told by management they don’t want anyone with critical thinking skills, someone who would question anything they’re doing.  They really want someone who will do as they’re told and question nothing.  A robot, essentially.”  I did the only thing I could do, thanked her for her candor and left, wondering what would become of a middle-aged woman with two college degrees and finely honed critical thinking skills.  The answer came a year later when I accepted a minimum wage position for which I was grossly overqualified.  I have since proven my worth to my employer for better pay and a promotion, but find it sad I wasn’t considered worthy of many good-paying jobs based on my disability of being a skilled critical thinker.

Now, dear friends, go back and re-read the proposals of the Texas GOP and you tell me if you “think” this is good for Texas children and good for the country.

So endeth the lesson.

*Stuff* – a colloquial term inserted into the text to replace the word “Shit”.  So done, because I promised my editor I would place all curse words ‘under the fold’ so that those individuals, devoid of all critical thinking skills would stop clogging her inbox with fake outrage-filled missives.

Carol Baker is a political writer, satirist, and co-host with Vicki Childs of our Here Women Talk weekly internet talk radio show called BROADSIDED. You can hear their show every Thursday at 11 am Eastern/10 Central/8 Pacific.


  1. Carol Baker & Vicki Childs

    Great stuff (shit) Carol. Love ya. I have critical thinking skills that my mama warned me about while taking college courses. She warned me not to go and change my views after hearing those college professors. Thank goodness I did not listen!!!!

    • Carol Baker

      Just one of the many reasons I love you… and stuff (shit).

  2. Love your e-mag. Darold was so impressed you named your column after me (the opinionated bitch) LOL Glad you lost an insignificant job that made you go where you really belong! Youe writing and work here really matter. Keep up the fabulous crusade against hate and ignorance. Love ya!

    • Carol Baker

      You crack me up, crazy woman. Tell ‘Tomato Guy’ I said hello. I didn’t name my column after you, I named it after strong women everywhere. In retrospect, I’m glad I lost my job too. Great rivers of creativity and inspiration bubbled to the surface. Happens when you suddenly find yourself with time on your hands. By the way, listen to Thursday’s BROADSIDED radio show and meet Jane Elliott 40 years later. She’s SOMETHIN’!

      Love to you both – Carol

  3. Kay Van Hoesen

    omg. I’m watching this video right now. What a frightening and powerful exercise. That teacher is brilliant. Mrs. Elliott. I wonder if she’s still alive. She’d be a great guest. Interesting, too, how the kids who thought there were stupid or bad didn’t do as well. Goes to show the power of perception. Wow, Carol. Thanks for sharing this video.

    • Carol Baker

      Not only is Jane Elliott alive, she lives half the year in Iowa (the warm half of the year) and the rest of the year in California and she has her own business doing diversity training. I’ve already sent her a letter asking for an interview. I don’t know how anyone could watch this and not experience a visceral reaction. Some people felt she was cruel. I found her teaching methods heroic. Some of the children who went through her class admitted that while it shaped their world view in a positive way, they wouldn’t permit their children to go through it. I’m not sure why they feel that way. No one felt the need to protect my delicate psyche or worry about my self-esteem 24/7. I think she speaks to a larger issue where it’s more important to be uncomfortable for a short time than to live a life of ignorance. She’s an amazing woman and one of my personal heroes. I’ve wanted to speak with her all my life and I hope I get the chance to do it.

  4. Kay Van Hoesen

    Holy friggin’ cow! Is that for real? That’s almost impossible to believe. If anybody else had reported it, I would have seriously questioned the accuracy of that report. But knowing it’s coming from you, I know you can prove it. Shit! That blows my mind. And you can quote me.

    • Carol Baker

      Take it to the bank it’s true, Sister. I took it directly off their website. They put it up there for me to find. Like I’d be proud of them or something?

  5. Fawnda Starkes

    I saw Children Session a couple of years ago. My daughter had me watch it after she watched it in one of her college classes-Sociology I believe. She has critical thinking skills, or as “they” say, she’s been brainwashed by college to be a liberal.

    • Carol Baker

      Keep encouraging her, Mama. She’ll join the ranks of Commies like me in no time. (And I’m very proud of her. Please tell her that.)


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