The Koch brothers teach history

Welcome to history class, boys and girls! Today's lesson -- in fact, every day's lesson -- will be taught by the Koch brothers.

State high school social studies teachers would be encouraged to use curriculum materials prepared by an institute funded by the conservative Koch family, under a proposal the Department of Public Instruction presented Wednesday.

Did someone put loony juice in the water over at DPI?

June Atkinson, state school superintendent and a Democrat, said the state looked for groups that could help write the founding principles curriculum but found only the Bill of Rights Institute. The institute did not return phone calls.
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But history teachers said in interviews Wednesday that they already have a wealth of resources available for teaching the founding principles. Some said it was not appropriate for a Koch-connected group to write public school course materials, and none knew that the state had hired the institute to develop a curriculum.

Seriously, the Koch brothers? Did anyone ask teachers about this?

People whose “principal concern is profit-making” should not develop curriculum, said Bryan Proffitt, a history teacher at Hillside High School in Durham

Paige Meszaros, an AP U.S. History teacher at Longleaf School of the Arts in Raleigh, said the controversy doesn’t reflect what’s happening in the classroom where she teaches the founding principles.

She uses information from the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress and other sources in her classes, and said it’s a bad idea to have a single curriculum for a course.

“You’re setting up students for failure when you limit their world view,” she said. “It’s not allowing teachers to be professionals. I would love to look at the lesson plans, but I would not want that to be dictated.”

[UNC-CH history professor Harry] Watson said he didn’t think it appropriate for the state to turn to a Koch-funded group to help write history lessons.

“I think the Koch brothers have demonstrated they have a strong and active partisan interest in politics,” he said. “I don’t think the public school curriculum should be written from a partisan perspective.”

See, Harry Watson, that is where you differ from the people in charge of North Carolina. People like Jerry Tillman, Craig Horn, Skip Stam, Tom Apodaca and the other far-right fringe extremists. They DO think public school curriculum should be written from a partisan perspective. Theirs.

Oh, and if your wound isn't already hurting enough, here's a big shaker full of salt for it:

The Bill of Rights Institute, based in Virginia, had a $100,000, sole-source contract with the state to help develop materials for teachers to use in a course on founding principles that the state requires students to take. The institute was founded in 1999 and receives grants from David H. Koch, the Charles Koch Foundation, and the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation, according to a website on Koch family philanthropies.

Yeah, that's right. We paid the Koch brothers $100,000 of our tax money so they can indoctrinate our kids.

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The source of this idiocy

This particular course is treated differently from other courses, because of a law that says that the state must develop a complete curriculum for teaching the "founding principles".

If you're wondering whether the source of such a poorly conceived law is ALEC, the answer is (SURPRISE!) yes.

The 390-page founding principles curriculum includes readings, activities, questions students should discuss and references to online resources for the 10 principles described in a 2011 law inspired by proposed legislation promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group backed by major corporations.

Yeah, that's right. Sleazy, self-interested politicians passed a law handed to them by ALEC that results in paying $100,000 to the Koch brothers for the privilege of indoctrinating our kids.

That is one evil triangle.

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

The Founding Principles act

The Founding Principles act passed in NC, is an ALEC bill. Amongst other things, it requires a semester worth of training to include:

The Creator-endowed unalienable rights of the people.
The purpose of government is to protect the inalienable rights of the people and to protect people from violence and fraud.
Private property rights and freedom of individual enterprise.
A virtuous and moral people, educated in the philosophy and principles of government for a free people.
Constitutional limitations on government power to tax and spend and prompt payment of public debt.
Money with intrinsic value.
A passing grade in the course shall be required for graduation from high school.

Excerpts from NC’s Founding Principles Law

An emphasis is placed on the expanding role of the federal government and federal courts as well as the continuing tension between the individual and the state.
The Creator-endowed inalienable rights of the people.
Rule of law.
Private Property Rights.
Individual responsibility.

A Koch-sponsored bill becomes law in NC, requiring the teaching of Koch-approved political and economic doctrine. And a Koch-sponsored ‘institute’ provides classroom material. Then, if the student is so blessed, they can attend a university where the Kochs have endowed professorships of economics teaching a Koch-approved curriculum and perhaps, get a job in a Koch-funded think tank. At the Koch-funded think tank they will turn out Koch-approved reports to support Koch-approved ideology.

That's exactly why

snorting Koch is dangerous. It leads to Koch addiction which can lead to the death of democracy.

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

Guess who's stink is all over this.

I'm not going to hold my breath to see it in print, but I submitted the following letter to the N&O on Dec. 7:

Lynn Bonner's December 4 piece, “State steers curriculum”, and the December 7 Dwane Powell cartoon both epitomize the Koch thumb print on the Bill of Rights Institute. However, the N&O neglected to report that Art Pope's family foundation has given at least $370,000 to the institute since 2002.

Pope has long exerted his moneyed influence over our system of public education. From his implacable criticism of UNC for what he essentially deems as wastefulness and political correctness, to his ongoing crusade to privatize our public schools, Pope seems especially adept at subverting our state run institutions with the ideology of his laissez-faire brand of libertarianism.

With the blinding power of today's search engines, this taxpayer finds it hilarious that Superintendent Atkinson claims to have found only one resource with whom to sign a contract. Not nearly as funny is that when presenting at a meeting called by the Senate Education Committee in late February 2013, Atkinson listed eleven others.

More disconcerting yet, is that Art Pope was actively sitting in his custom-made Budget Director chair at the time the sole-source contract was signed. Considering the political clout that comes with Pope's so-called philanthropy, the N&O should leave no stone unturned.

First of all, the contributions made by Artie Boy was reported in a February 2013 Facing South article, "Are NC schools teaching Art Pope's version of history?", by Chris Kromm. An enlightening read featuring the following chart:
Pope's grants to the Bill of Rights Institute
Second, I could have written extensively about the Pope cancer metastasizing its way through our democracy, if only the N&O didn't impose a 200 word limit on those of us they deem unworthy of a waiver. Case in point -- his behind the scenes funding of candidates keen on the dismantling of desegregation policy in NC school system during the 2009 Wake County school board race.

Third, my claim of eleven other resources came from the February 27, 2013 Indy article, "U.S. History According to Charles Koch: The conservative billionaire could be teaching your kids", by Billy Ball. The article doesn't specifically reveal how it arrived at this count, but slide 10 of Atkinson's Powerpoint presentation, "Implementation of SL 2011-273: The Founding Principles Act", is clear evidence that there were 5 pages of resources included in the source document behind the slide. Curiously, the Bill of Rights Institute is listed first and foremost.

The 2011 Founding Principles Act legislation that made it's way into SL 2011-273 and HB 588, was written by ALEC and passed by the republican controlled legislature bought and paid for by Pope just the year prior. Why Purdue enacted it is beyond me, but it'd be a sure bet that her veto would have been summarily overridden. Pope's longstanding relationship with the Koch's and the stench of his proven overreach into our state government not withstanding, the N&O proves, once again, that they couldn't smell a turd even when it's rubbed under their collective noses.

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"Let's not be too rough on our own ignorance; it's what makes America great!" - Frank Zappa (6/29/1988)

I'll keep an eye out for it

But you're right, they probably won't print it. Not only does it attack the V'est of NC VIPs, it also mentions the N&O itself and what it should be doing. They hate that.

No doubt.

But if AG Roy is, by chance, following this thread -- Art "Il Duce" Pope's perp walk couldn't come a minute too soon.

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"Let's not be too rough on our own ignorance; it's what makes America great!" - Frank Zappa (6/29/1988)

MEDIAMATTERS rattles the cage.

December 8, 2014 4:02 PM EST -- North Carolina Newspapers Mostly Silent As ALEC And Koch Brothers Rewrite History :

Of the four largest papers in North Carolina (by circulation), The Charlotte Observer, the News & Record, The News and Observer, and the Winston-Salem Journal, only the Raleigh-based News and Observer produced an original report on the connection between the Koch brothers and the new history curriculum. Its story was reprinted by The Charlotte Observer and the Winston Salem-Journal, the latter of which added quotes from local teachers. The News & Record only ran a short Associated Press story that referenced the original News & Observer article.

Even papers that mentioned the Koch brothers influence failed to acknowledge the depth of the connection between the brothers and BRI. The institute's board of directors includes Mark Humphrey, senior vice president of Koch Industries, Ryan Stoweres, the "director of higher education programs at the Charles G Koch Charitable Foundation," Rob Testwuide, who also serves on the board of the Koch-funded Institute for Energy Research, and Todd Zywicki, a senior scholar at the Koch-founded Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Though BRI is based in Virginia, major funding for the organization comes from one of North Carolina's most influential conservative donors: Art Pope. According to a profile in The New Yorker, Pope has "given money to at least twenty-seven groups supported by the Kochs, including organizations opposing environmental regulations, tax increases, unions, and campaign-spending limits." He also served on the board of directors for the Kochs' Americans for Prosperity.

Eat my shorts N&O!

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"Let's not be too rough on our own ignorance; it's what makes America great!" - Frank Zappa (6/29/1988)