The Colbeck Curriculum

The Colbeck Curriculum

Michigan state Senator and gubernatorial candidate Patrick Colbeck has been involved in recent efforts to update the social studies curriculum for K–12 public schools. Colbeck’s stated goals are to “remove partisanship from the classroom” and move students towards a more “politically neutral” dialogue that offers a balanced view of historical issues. Perhaps he is sincere, but few promulgate a more politically non-neutral agenda than Patrick Colbeck.

Bridge Magazine has a very thorough article about this and one of its authors, Lindsay VanHulle, discussed it on Michigan Radio’s Stateside earlier this week. One of the more revealing examples of Colbeck’s ambitions is his assertion that the term “democratic” implies partisan leanings. As a result, 13 references to “core democratic values” have been deleted or changed to “core values.” Politicians defining word usage for all has “dystopian” written all over it. More chilling, Colbeck confided that he only got about a 10th of what he wanted.

Colbeck reminds me of Frank Burns, the character played by Larry Linville in the 1970s sitcom, M*A*S*H. Specifically, the episode in which the 4077 is preparing for a visit from General Douglas MacArthur. The scene opens with Frank merrily tossing items into a fire as fellow doctors, Trapper and Hawkeye, approach:

Trapper: Frank! What are you doing?
Frank Burns: Burning books.
Hawkeye: Oh. Any special reason, Dr. Hitler?
Frank Burns: One of the greatest living Americans is coming and I’m not going to let him see some of the trash that’s read around here.
Trapper: Plato’s Republic? The Life of Red Grange?
Hawkeye: Revolutionaries.
Frank Burns: Right!
Trapper: Robinson Crusoe?
Hawkeye: Everybody runs around half naked.
Trapper: Norman Mailer.
Frank Burns: It’s got *that word* in it.
Hawkeye: Frank, you burn one more book, I’m gonna give you a dancing lesson in the mine field.

Can we at least agree that the last person we want our next governor to emulate is Frank Burns?

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