School takeover

Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez vows to close or take over private schools that refuse to adopt the socialist government’s new curriculum and textbooks.

“Society cannot allow the private sector to do whatever it wants,” said Chavez, speaking on the first day of classes.

Chavez’s brother, who’s the education minister, says the new education system will encourage “critical thinking” rather than indoctrinating the “new citizen.”

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  1. Before criticizing Chavez, it might be useful to look at how textbooks are selected – and revised – in the U.S.

  2. Regardless, it’s chilling to hear a country’s leader utter the phrase, “Society cannot allow the private sector to do whatever it wants” when you know very well he means “my whims” by “society.”

  3. Chavez is turning into the perfect totalitarian. Here we have a textbook definition of doublespeak: “think critically” actually means “think exactly as we tell you or we will kill you”. Brilliant!

    It’s like they give these guys a “dictator’s manual” or something.

  4. Before criticizing Chavez, it might be useful to look at how textbooks are selected – and revised – in the U.S.”

    This is the typical excuse for still supporting Chavez no matter what he does. I don’t care if in other places education its very limited, it is a poor excuse to accept whats this man is doing in my country. Besides, there are private schools in the US if Im not mistaken and I haven’t here still the first president wanting to take over them.

  5. Before criticizing Chavez, it might be useful to look at how textbooks are selected – and revised – in the U.S.

    It would be useful. *BUT* private schools in the
    U.S. can still pretty much select any curriculum
    they wish. The U.S. has an ‘escape hatch’ if
    you really object to the education provided by the
    state. Mr. Chavez is ensuring that this is not
    present in Venezuela.

    -Mark Roulo

  6. I wonder what Mr. Chavez plans to do about homeschoolers….that tends to be the ultimate “escape hatch” here. (Totalitarian societies being what they are, I suspect the answer to my question is “nothing good.”)

  7. As an American, the question I think should be asked is how far are we away from this attitude in the U.S.?

    If the education establishment had the authority to dictate what materials were used in private and parochial education, I think they wouldn’t hesistate to use it. In some states I fear we’re only a small step away from a legislative body or a judical fiat giving them that power.

  8. Robert Wright says:

    Well, this is interesting.

    I can’t believe Chavez would make such a bone-head statement, but maybe he did. So, I’ll do some googling and find out if it really did say that or if it was taken out of context.

    It isn’t easy to find out what really goes on in Latin America because different sources have different agendas. Take for example the conflict the government had with the TV stations. There were two sides to that story and it was complicated, but thanks to youtube and other places on the internet, there’s plenty of opinions to wade through.

    So, thanks for posting this. Perhaps I’ll be changing my opinion about Chavez, but first, the research.

  9. I can’t believe that no one has mentioned Richard Feynman’s comments about serving on a textbook selection committee. It’s a classic

  10. Uh, no. The first point about textbook selection is wildly different from a dictatorial government compelling all schools to teach a specific curriculum.

    Even if the methods by which we produce textbooks are wildly flawed (and they are), it’s still typically an open and democratic process by which the officials of the boards of education actually select which textbook to use and it’s a separate process from the selection of curricula. (Textbooks are materials that allow the curriculum to be taught, but the don’t actually control what’s taught. With the exception of reading, we all probably had highly effective teachers who relied on the textbook very little.)

    To suggest that because idiots and special interest groups can influence the textbook production process and that elected officials neglect their duties when textbooks are selected that the situation is comparable to what Chavez is describe as doing seems wildly inappropriate.

  11. Sorry, but most (not all) private schools have been “taken over” by the government by default because they are staffed largely by graduates of schools of education who are themselves trained in government schools. These folks represent the education establishment and they choose the textbooks and the curricula that are used in private schools.

    By the way, most “private” schools are not private because most, including parochial schools, receive some form of government funding, even if the funding is indirect. At the college and university level, there are no private schools except (to my knowledge) Hillsdale and Grove City. I teach at a so-called private college. Last year, the college received 10 million dollars in government funding that followed the students. The college is responsible for meeting all of the governemnt mandates that public universities must meet. There is no privacy.

  12. Robert…. do your research… but if its worth for something… Im Venezuelan and I saw my president saying it on national television



    Yes, you can tell how they are looking for different ways of thinking by how they are going to use government power to silence anyone who doesn’t teach their way. At Joanne Jacobs blog where she pointed out this policy, commenters discussed education …