Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bringing FEAR to a high school near you

This morning's Dallas Morning News reports that a local high school is getting ready to offer a new course next fall. Nothing too unusual about that, you say? Perhaps a new literature or mathematics or science course designed to better prepare our youth for the rigors of college?

Well, not exactly.

As it turns out, Southlake (TX) Carroll Senior High School plans to offer an elective course in...homeland security. And given that Southlake is a very tony suburb of Dallas and Fort Worth, there's little doubt that the pronounced Republican leaning of the town's well-to-do populace hasn't particularly hindered the development of such a course.

Students would study information security, domestic and world terrorism, criminal justice and forensic psychology in the elective course approved by the school board on Monday.

The district is awaiting approval from the Texas Education Agency so that students can receive state credit for the introductory class.

"We just thought if you're an accountant or whatever your job is going to be in life, it would serve you well as you move into this time in history that you know something about homeland security," Carroll Senior High principal Daniel Presley said.

Carroll Senior High teacher Sandra Griffin, who researched and developed the curriculum, said the course makes sense because the high school in Southlake is near Alliance Airport and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and close to state border issues.

"It's just a critical need, especially for our area because of our proximity and some avenues that terrorists choose," Ms. Griffin said. "As we know from 9/11, it's the airways."

A social studies or science teacher will lead the course. Students will analyze terrorist attacks, use vocabulary associated with homeland security, learn the government's role in policy development, practice negotiation and mediation strategies, and study the impact of terrorism.

So much for focusing on the enhancement of students' capabilities in math and science. Let's just teach them why everyone should be afraid of the Bush administration's favorite bogeyman: the terrorist.

Who knows? This might even catch on in other parts of the country. We might even see homeland security courses combined with intelligent design curricula to create a one-two punch of right wing hysteria in our public schools. Wouldn't that be a treat?

David McEntire, associate professor of emergency administration and planning at the University of North Texas, said the Carroll school district is being progressive by offering such a course at the high school level.

"I think that our world has changed dramatically," Dr. McEntire said. "There is an increasing recognition that terrorism is a major threat that we have to deal with.

"Because it's a relatively new field, we really need to have the public buy-in in dealing with terrorism," he said.

Never mind the fact that over 15,000 people are killed by drunk drivers in this country every year, or that over 30,000 people are killed by handguns each year, but let's continue to focus all of our attention on the remote chance that the terrorists are going to blow us all to pieces.

Of course, terrorism is a threat, both here and around the world. The terrible events of 9/11/01 demonstrated that in brutally vivid detail. But most of us are far more likely to die driving to or from work each day than ever being the victim of a terrorist attack. Yet, an inordinate amount of attention and money continues to fuel the pyre of fear that has been set ablaze - and continually stoked - by the Bush administration. And soon, many of our youngsters may become the newest experts in the "war on terror".

Honestly, I'd be much more impressed if our kids became experts in the "war on drugs" or in the "war on cancer". Alas, there are only so many wars that can be fought at any one time. The "war on terror" seems to be the war of choice at the moment...and, sadly, for some time to come.


At 3:58 PM, Blogger Meatball One said...

Cool scoop on the high school course. Most interesting indeed.


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