Gov. Tate Reeves’s preliminary budget amounts to a shot fired over the bow of the legislature’s ship. He wants to make it clear that no elected official can be more conservative–or more like Trump–than he can.
Witness the three million dollars allocated for the state’s “Patriotic Education Fund,” which aims to reverse years of “indoctrination in far-left socialist teachings that emphasize America’s shortcomings over the exceptional achievements of this country.”
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t met any socialists who teach in Mississippi’s k12 schools. However, I have met plenty of teachers–conservative, liberal, and somewhere in between–who take pride in helping the state overcome the shibboleths of its past to make it a better place. No need for the Patriotic Education Fund exists. That any ten of us who teach in the humanities would not draw the same conclusions about materials we’re supposed to teach, and how we’re supposed to teach them, is actually a healthy thing. If a humanities curriculum presents facts about history and does not allow students to draw their own conclusions about those facts, it isn’t really a curriculum any more. It’s an indoctrination program.
By suggesting that the state should design a history curriculum structured around the belief that “America is the greatest country in the history of mankind,” the governor actually undermines one of the foundations that does indeed make America great: the right to question authority. Being able to look at texts and interpret them without having to appeal to a specific ideology is a lynchpin of my pedagogy. I want to teach students how to think, not what to think. As I’ve said many times, if you can’t convince people you’re right, you might as well be wrong–and Gov. Reeves’ Patriotic Education Fund is just flat wrong.