Is the Koch Brothers' Curriculum Coming to Your Child's School?
The Koch Brothers are trying to re-write history. Caitlin MacNeal over at TPM is reporting that the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has “encouraged” state high school teachers to start teaching a curriculum that was drafted by a Koch Brothers-funded group.
The Koch Brothers-funded conservative takeover of public education in North Carolina started back in 2011, when that state’s legislature passed a law requiring public schools to offer a history course based on America’s “Founding Principles.” That law was based on "model legislation" written by everyone’s favorite corporate lobbying juggernaut, ALEC. After North Carolina passed that law, the state hired the Bill of Rights Institute to draft the curriculum for the classes.
The Bill of Rights Institute has received numerous grants and donations from Charles Koch himself, and from a variety of Koch-funded groups and organizations. That’s why the curriculum being taught to North Carolina students is filled with the Koch Brothers’ libertarian beliefs and ideologies, and a whole lot of misinformation on American history.
A great deal of the curriculum focuses on the libertarian love affair with "limited government." As MacNeal writes, “Throughout the curriculum, students are asked to tie lessons back to the concept of limited government, which the state's 2011 bill calls for.”
While that may be the Koch Brothers’ spin on the the Founders' intentions, that’s simply not the truth and not historically accurate. In his Report on Manufactures from December 5th,1791, Alexander Hamilton explained why the Founders included the General Welfare clause in the Constitution.
He explained that the Founders included it in the Constitution so that the government could do anything that the people thought was appropriate and beneficial. Hamilton wrote that, “No objection ought to arise to this construction from a supposition that it would imply a power to do whatever else should appear to Congress conducive to the General Welfare.”
The Constitution limits the powers of our government, but in very specific ways. For example, the government can’t take your life, liberty or property without proper cause. But there’s nothing in the Constitution that says the government can’t introduce programs like Medicare, Obamacare, or Social Security, despite what the Koch Brothers might try to tell our schoolchildren.
Another hunk of the Koch Brothers-funded curriculum talks about "individual responsibility," another pillar of a libertarian paradise. According to MacNeal, this section of the curriculum asks students to, “challenge preconceived notions about what freedom means, and understand the way individual freedom is inextricably tied to personal responsibility.” But that’s just Koch Brothers code for “I was born rich and white, and got everything I wanted in life handed to me on a silver platter so screw you.”
While the Koch Brothers won’t admit it, human beings are social animals. We always have been and always will be. We have always depended on each other for help, guidance, and really survival.
The libertarian notion of the self-made man is largely a myth, and if it is possible, it takes a whole lot of luck - including the luck to be born in the right time, place, and family - that many people simply don’t have.
Finally, the Koch Brothers-funded curriculum focuses a lot on the libertarian talking point that our government has too much power. According to MacNeal, “The curriculum constantly questions how much power and authority the federal government should have and subtly asserts that the federal government has gained too much power since 1789." And a portion of the curriculum says that, “It seems that fewer people are making more decisions about the nature of our fundamental rights.” Basically, in this section of the curriculum, the Koch Brothers are complaining about the rules of the game that protect We the People from the harmful effects of capitalism.
As you and I both know, industrialists have screwed us over repeatedly throughout history, but that’s a little fact that the Koch Brothers don't want our schoolchildren to know. Nothing in here about the Pullman Porters, for example. Regulations are in place to protect us from being screwed over even more.
The curriculum being taught in North Carolina schools is not history. It’s not civics. It’s about whitewashing reality, and turning Gilded Age oligarchs like the Koch Brothers into national heroes. The ALEC-inspired, Koch Brothers-funded North Carolina curriculum represents the Ayn Randification of our education system and our society.
It’s bad enough that the Koch Brothers have a stranglehold on our democracy and political system, courtesy of our Supreme Court. We don’t need them in our classrooms too.