SATURDAY, MARCH 18, 2023
The stupidification, it burns: Let the word go forth to the nations:
The word "woke" appeared on the front page of Friday's New York Times! Indeed, the key if deeply baffling term appeared in the second paragraph of a front-page report by Sarah Mervosh, a good and decent person.
Online, the lengthy report carries a somewhat opaque headline. In print editions, the lengthy report began as shown, print headline included:
Florida Re-Edits A New Subject: Social Studies
The nitty-gritty process of reviewing and approving school textbooks has typically been an administrative affair, drawing the attention of education experts, publishing executives and state bureaucrats.
But in Florida, textbooks have become hot politics, part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s campaign against what he describes as “woke indoctrination” in public schools, particularly when it comes to race and gender. Last year, his administration made a splash when it rejected dozens of math textbooks, citing “prohibited topics.”
Now, the state is reviewing curriculum in what is perhaps the most contentious subject in education: social studies.
Just to be clear, there is no claim in the Mervosh report that Florida has "re-edited" anything at this point.
We're not even sure what that headline might mean. But such is the way of our mainstream journalism at its brainiest end.
At any rate, Mervosh's report continued from there. The word "woke" was right there in paragraph 2, admittedly as part of a quotation from Governor Lack of Precision.
The Mervosh report triggered loads of excitement within our own blue circles. At issue was the way one (1) textbook publisher, Studies Weekly, had proposed teaching the story of Rosa Parks to Florida's several first graders.
In a new version of a pre-existing textbook, Studies Weekly had dumbed down its account of what happened to Mrs. Parks on a very famous bus in 1955. More specifically, it had essentially removed the fact that she had been ordered to move from her seat that day so that a "white" person could sit in the seat instead.
The fact that one publisher had made this revision produced a barrel of excitement within our own blue circles. Frequently lost in the excitement was this buzzkill of a fact:
The Florida Department of Education has rejected the Studies Weekly textbook series for use in the state's public schools. The dumbed-down version of what happened to Mrs. Parks will not be approved for statewide use.
That's right! The Studies Weekly textbooks are out, along with the dumbed-down version of the Rosa Parks story. If you read all the way to the end of Mervosh's extremely lengthy report, you read this somewhat inconclusive account of the matter:
MERVOSH: The Florida Department of Education suggested that Studies Weekly had overreached. Any publisher that “avoids the topic of race when teaching the Civil Rights movement, slavery, segregation, etc. would not be adhering to Florida law,” the department said in a statement.
But Studies Weekly said it was trying to follow Florida’s standards, including the Stop W.O.K.E. Act.
“All publishers are expected to design a curriculum that aligns with” those requirements, John McCurdy, the company’s chief executive, said in an email.
The company’s curriculum is no longer under consideration by the state.
After questions from The Times, the company removed its second, scrubbed-down version of the curriculum from its website last week and said that it had withdrawn from the state’s review.
The Florida Department of Education said it had already rejected the publisher, citing a bureaucratic snafu in the company’s submission.
By our count, those are paragraphs 40-45 of a 46-graf report.
At any rate, the Studies Weekly textbooks are out, possibly due to an unspecified "bureaucratic snafu." But along the way, the Florida Department of Education has now said that Studies Weekly had "overreached" in some of its textbook revisions.
Under Florida law, the Department has said, you can't dumb down the topic of race in such ways, not even for first graders! And yes, the Florida laws in question include the childishly named Stop W.O.K.E. Act, whose varied and voluminous provisions require the teaching of "the civil rights movement to the present," along with "the history of African Americans, including the history of African peoples before the political conflicts that led to the development of slavery, the passage to America, the enslavement experience, abolition, and the contributions of African Americans to society."
So it says within the (very murky) Stop W.O.K.E Act.
Meanwhile, how should first graders be taught about Rosa Parks? Intelligent people would understand that that is a very good question—a question which has no single perfect answer.
Intelligent people might be eager to tackle such a significant question. Unfortunately, within our profit-based corporate circles, our tribe features the kinds of people who loomed on cable last night.
We refer to cable star Alex Wagner and the person with whom she pretended to discuss this topic. That would be Florida State Rep. Anna Eskamani, a good and decent person who may perhaps be a bit inclined to walks on the polarized side.
The pair staged a deeply unintelligent pseudo-discussion. Eventually, Eskamani offered this description of the kinds of people who may not agree with her own infallible views on all such points of concern:
WAGNER (3/17/23): ...These folks, the Florida Citizens Alliance, seem to have an outsized role in determining what children can learn. Is there a counter movement on the progressive side that is working to push back?
ESKAMANI: Well first of all, this is a very good point.
Govenor Ron DeSantis has surrounded himself with extremists, whether it's this organization, or Moms For Liberty, or think tanks from other states that come to Florida. He has surrounded himself with some of the worst characters and people who do not have the best interests of every child in mind.
But to answer your question...
According to experts, this is the way it's always been, dating back into prehistory.
In the present situation, leave it to hacks like ours! Before she could speak to the "very good point" Wagner had inevitably raised, Eskamani let it be known that people who don't share her own infallible views are "some of the worst characters," apparently on the whole planet.
They're people who do not have "the best interests of every child in mind," in the way she herself quite infallibly does.
If we wanted to be judgmental, it would be hard to have sufficient contempt for people who propagandize us in this ancient, stupid manner. But this is the way "blue corporate cable" panders to our own atavistic impulses as it seeks to maximize ratings and its bottom line.
Meanwhile, how about it? What should first graders be taught about our nation's brutal racial history? Let's check in with Goofus and Gallant!
Gallant understands that that's an excellent question. Goofus expounds on blue tribe cable every night of the week.
A giant cable star like Wagner could spend some time every night wrestling with the many questions involved in this important matter. That would start with the actual contents of Florida's Stop WOKE Act, for which we've never been able to find a clean text online.
What does the Stop WOKE Act even say? People like Wagner don't care! Neither do mainstream journalists, based on their tolerance of the current state of affairs.
(Without offering a link to any version of the law's text, Mervosh makes a few attempts to quote from its contents. For what it's worth, this is the cleanest version of the legislation we've been able to find online. It comes to us, live and direct, from Florida's Governor Harvard Law Hodgepodge.)
People like Wagner are never going to try to tell you what the act even says. Whether they know it or not, they are being sent on the air to dumbnify the national discourse and to stupidify our self-impressed tribe all the way down to the ground.
How much are they paid it pursue these noble tasks? You aren't allowed to know that! Also, the corporate bosses no longer provide transcripts of the things they say. It isn't just the Stop WOKE Act whose contents get lost in the mist!
In closing, what should first graders be taught about such moral giants as Mrs. Parks?
You're asking a truly excellent question! Please keep such concerns to yourself!
The dumbnification, it burns: To watch last evening's ten-minute segment, you can just click here.
According to the New York Times, a dumbed-down version of the Rosa Parks story will not be approved for statewide use. The TV segment opens with this more pleasing chyron:
STORY OF CIVIL RIGHTS ICON ROSA PARKS BEING RE-WRITTEN IN SOME SOCIAL STUDIES TEXTBOOKS
The Times report reports no such thing. The tribal dumbnification is constant, just as it ever was.