Writer May Want to Think Twice about Keeping Government Out of Teaching

When I saw the opinion article in today’s Denver Post titled “Keep the government out of teaching,” I thought I was going to encounter a radical libertarian argument for the “separation of school and state” — or at least something like universal vouchers.

You start reading the piece, and realize it’s a response to a previous column written by local radio talk host Mike Rosen defending the Texas State Board of Education’s newly-approved social studies curriculum.

Oh, okay. So judging by the title then, this column is arguing for government bodies to stop imposing curriculum decisions on schools or for expanding school choice so parents can pick a school with a different curriculum. Right?

Nope. It’s just an argument against the Texas State Board’s specific decisions. The author believes the new curriculum underestimates separation of church and state, incorrectly identifies our nation as a “constitutional republic,” and inadequately defends the importance of government regulation — among other things. So who wrote this article? Surprise, surprise … a social studies teacher from Texas named Cleon Roberts.

Roberts makes no argument against the Texas State Board’s powers to dictate curriculum, no argument against the near-monopoly delivery of K-12 education, no argument against the spate of federal and state mandates, no argument against the tax funding that makes him a government employee. So maybe the headline was poorly written, and didn’t reflect the author’s intent?

Once again, nope. The writer concludes:

Give the kids a break. Butt out, and don’t let the government interfere with teaching. [emphasis added]

Maybe this social studies teacher went to the same school as a certain Iowa language arts teacher. All the good teachers out there who are doing wonderful work must grimace and shake their heads when they read pieces like the one in today’s Denver Post. If that’s you, I’m on your side.