We already told you that the political activists who promoted the witch hunt that appears to have gutted the CSCOPE curriculum tool were already turning their attention to new targets. Well, check out this new post on the blog “Red Hot Conservative” written by Ginger Russell, one of the most vocal CSCOPE critics. What’s got Ginger’s hair on fire this time is an obviously Marxist educational tool called… Project-Based Learning.
If you hadn’t already seen just how kooky some of these critics’ arguments really are, you might think Ginger’s post was published in The Onion or some other parody publication. But no, she’s serious:
It became apparent to me that CSCOPE was part of a bigger problem and would lay a foundation for Project Based Learning (PBL). PBL is based on the teaching philosphy [sic] of Marxist Lev Vygotsky and Progressive educator John Dewey. The Texas Education Service Centers, Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) and Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) are running full speed ahead to implement PBL. Parents and Taxpayers need to be very concerned about PBL.
And just what is Project-Based Learning? Here’s a piece about PBL from the PBS program Frontline in 2012. Essentially, teachers use challenging projects to tie student learning in school to real-world issues.
Ginger’s blog post offers a table comparing Project-Based Learning to “Traditional (Classical)” learning. She uses these terms to describe traditional learning: “conservative, capitalist (individualist), textbooks/vetted materials, realism, logical (productive).” Here’s how she describes Project-Based Learning: “iberal/radical/progressive, socialist (collectivist), textbooks out/unvetted materials, relativism/social constructivism, emotional (social).” In social studies, she writes, traditional learning focuses on “American heritage, national sovereignty, and cross-cultural studies.” Project-Based Learning, on the other hand, focuses on “diversity, multiculturalism, and global citizenship.”
We’re also told that traditional learning is based on “citizenship and self-control,” is “pro-faith,” and emphasizes “merit.” Project-Based Learning instead is based on “relativism and self-esteem,” is “anti-faith,” and emphasizes “entitlement.”
And, of course, Ginger sees President Obama somehow involved in this Marxist conspiracy. She writes:
“May 9th, President Obama visited a praised Manor ISD’s [in Texas] New Tech High School which is has fully implemented Project Based Learning. (His visit speaks volumes to those who value a traditional education).”
In a reasonable world, people like Ginger could promote this kind of nonsense with little real consequence for the rest of the state. But as we now know, state Sen. Dan Patrick — the Republican chair of the Senate Education Committee — and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott have been listening to people like Ginger weave their CSCOPE conspiracy theories for months now. And because of the political bullying from Patrick and Abbott, hundreds of school districts are losing the CSCOPE lesson plans they have been using for years.
So will we hear Sen. Patrick call for hearings on Project-Based Learning? Will Attorney General Abbott say he is “investigating” PBL (as he said about CSCOPE)? Well, they do have elections coming up, and it’s already pretty clear which voters they think make up their base.