Thursday, May 8, 2014

Public Education Considered Harmful

We all have favorite jokes about the stupid things that emerge where politics and education cross paths. My favorite has always been the story of a law passed in Tennessee making the mathematical constant π equal to 3. (A more generous version of the story has it being legally equal to 22/7.)

Still nothing could prepare me for the recent news from the Rialto Unified School District in San Bernadino County. According to a report by Beau Yarbrough for the San Bernadino County Sun, about 2000 eighth grade students were given an essay assignment, in conjunction with having read Anne Frank's diary, to
read and discuss multiple, credible articles on this issue, and write an argumentative essay, based on cited textual evidence, in which you explain whether or not you believe (the Holocaust) was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth.
It seems to have taken about a week for news about this event to circulate, after which the Rialto Unified School Board held an emergency meeting to discuss damage control for damage that had already been done.

Personally, I find this a useful data point for setting expectations of what will happen when Fox News takes over public education in the United States.

1 comment:

DigitalDan said...

In the interests of educational purity, I must note that the bill in question was proposed in my home Hoosier territory of Indiana, where in order to square the circle (already proven impossible by then), Pi was required to be 3.2. A mathematician in the assembly convinced them not to pass it.