Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Local Neutrality

Che Bob is busy so I'll (Troutsky) jump in briefly with a tale about a down home storm brewing over this issue of neutrality or perceived bias or "balance" in pubic school teaching. A lovely colleague of Che Bobs (who I had the pleasure of a long conversation with last night) was confronted by her school board and an irate parent when one of her students reported home that she had watched an "anti-capitalist" film in her science class and that it was part of the liberal teachers "agenda".

I actually got to see the film last night (The Story of Stuff) and it does provide a critique of current market fundamentalism but does not call for the workers to own the means of production or for an end to the profit-wage system. Which is beside the point. The point of course being academic freedom, the ability of teachers to present challenging material to high school students. After a long, detailed power-point presentation by the conservative Dad ( who has a more favorable view of "stuff" and "the invisible hand"), the teacher was censored not due to the showing of inappropriate material, but because "she had not provided the proper context" ie , had used her position of power in a way that reflected her bias.

Her "bias" is that she believes in ( she told me she actually loves) science. Her "bias" is she believes the ecosystem is in trouble and we need to start paying attention. To the ideological Right (and religious) this is an attack on their belief system, including the "free market" (I think they are correct) and they are caught between pedagogy and what is more and more obviously a bankrupt ideology. Pedagogically speaking, (almost) every teacher starts from a pro-capitalist bias in whatever discipline they teach, history, English, social studies, etc. Yet theirs is unquestionably considered the normatively "neutral" position. Conservatives scream for "balance" because their basic paranoid delusion entails a "liberal education establishment". (anti-God, anti-capitalist, anti-white)

Well I want "balance" too, if that's how they want to play it. Every white supremacist, communist, pagan, hermaphrodite, fascist, holocaust denying believer in aliens should demand "equal time " from their school boards and we'll see what "neutrality" really looks like! Troutsky