A WATCHFUL PEOPLE–THE ONLY SAFETY SAN MARCOS In the teaching field, we are periodically assigned the task of writing up courses of study in our particular area which are supposed to tell someone what we teach and why. All too often these writings are merely plagiarized from textbook prefaces and tables of contents ; in any case, they contain objectives usually couched in euphistic, educationist jargon that edifies no one and satisfies most anyone whose tastes and talents veer in that direction. The writer is a teacher of high school civics \(national, state, and lowhich the professionals have, for some reason, dubbed social science. Let us look at civics. Why do we teach it? What are we driving at? Is it to teach that the Constitution was written in 1787? Is it to teach that the President’s term is limited by the Twenty-Second Amendment ? Is it to teach that the general elections are held in November in even numbered years? We must present a wealth of factual information. Facts about governmental mechanics are necessary to these young people because they must soon function as voting citizens. They must know when elections are held. They must know about primaries and conventions. They must know about voting procedures. However, our task goes much further than teaching about the routines of government. If the great constants of liberty are to survive, they will survive only as they are experienced. The ink on the paper gives them no force whatsoever. Citizens-to-be should become acquainted with Thomas Jefferson and understand his consummate expressions of the essence of liberty. They must come to see that the vital breath of free institutions is the freedom to receive and express ideas, to question, and to challenge those in authority if need be. They should come to realize . that fallible men and their laws and establishments are not to be viewed “with sanctimonious reverence … too sacred to be touched.” Thomas Yoakum About the Author Our guest columnist this issue is Thomas P. Yoakum, a teacher of histo .ur and government from whom Observer readers have heard once before Feb. 7, 1959, in a fantasy, “Where is the spirit that made us in the image of the gods?” A native of San Marcos, Yoakum at Southwest Texas State Teachers’ College there. In World War II he served in the field artillery in Europe. He is chairman of the social sciences department at San Marcos high school, where he has been teaching since 1947 ; some summers he teaches in college in San Marcos. He co-authored \(with Dick Smith and Stuart textbook, Texas Civics. He has a wife and two children. MANY OF THESE students, seventeenand eighteen-yearold high school seniors, are intelligent young people with a surprising capacity to comprehend problems of the adult world. It is heartening to see how quickly they `understand that no governmental authority should draw a line and say, “Beyond this point, you must not explore. To search for meanings beyond this line is forbidden.” They readily abhor the idea of coercion of thought and perceive that the suppression of it is infinitely more dangerous than the freedom of it. They see that uniformity is neither possible nor desirable and understand Jefferson’s words to the effect that after a hundred generations of coercion, “We have not advanced one inch toward uniformity,” and such imbecility has served only “to make one half of the world fools and the other half hypocrites.” Sometimes they are a bit aghast when confronted with instances of successful or attempted thought suppression in our own state. They understand that some misguided fanatics ABILENE, SWEETWATER The superintendents, principals, and teachers in Abilene and Sweetwater were genuinely worried when the Observer questioned the propriety of the $10,000 their systems each had accepted from a business group to teach “Americanism.” Supt. A. E. Wells of Abilene was puzzled, he said, and thought first that the business group was suspected of being subversive. Supt. Olaf South of Sweetwater was stunned ; when asked about the “eight foundations” admit tedly copied for the program in the schools, he saw that they involved controversial hostilities to the New Deal. The principals at the pilot schools in the two cities defended their independence as educators. The “resource teachers” whose salaries are being paid by the business grants, Mrs. Lucy Strong at Abilene and Mrs. ‘E. J. Woodward at Sweetwater, believe sincerely in what they are doing and detest the thought of outside influence. But there, carefully lettered on a huge board in Mrs. Strong’s cubbyhole office for the Americanism project, were the Texas Bureau for Economic Understanding’s “eight foundations of freedom,” including “Our Government does not owe its a living but protects us in our freedom to earn a living,” and “Free enterprise profit motive !” \(In emphasis superior to the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of IndeAnd there, in the middle of Mrs., Woodward’s splendid displays on ROCKEFELLER Ni,:w WAVERLY …. mainly Cuba.” That’s what the man said when he was urging that we improve our relations with the Latin American countries. Now don’t be too hard on him. Probably you would have said the same thing or even more if your Cuban “interests” had amounted to more than a million acres of land. That is what Farm Research reveals about the Rockefeller interests in their study of Castro’s land reform plans. Not, you understand, up and above board ownership in Rockefeller names, but disguised in the names of several companiesAtlantica del Golfo Sugar Co., 617,000 acres ; American Sugar Refining Co., 340,000 acres, plus 224,000 on two unused islands ; Punta Alegro, 116,000 acres. It should be here stated that no study of Rockefeller land holdings in and overzealous enthusiasts would destroy the system they seek to preserve by thoughtlessness. They understand how demagogues would destroy it by design. They are keenly interested in the legalized corruption from whence comes the stench of state politics. They deplore the parsimonious salaries of our legislators, the retainer fee system, the freeloading, the bigotry and political opportunism associated with the race issue. They see that our state government is an organizational monstrosity. They rally to standards of integrity in government “to which the wise and honest can repair.” ARE WE un-American in teaching these things? Are we lunatic fringers with affinities for communists? Are we unfairly exploiting ‘ young and impressionable minds? Is it dangerous to teach these thitigs? Of course it’s dangerousfor the teacher. Sensitive and explosive issues are always dangerous. We would be remiss in our responsibility to these young citizens if we did not unsettle their minds a bit, perhaps disturb early patriots in American history and the basic documents of the Republic, were the eight “foundations” again! It is depressing to -suspect that these intelligent public school people are being usedthat they did not realize the implications of taking funds from a group of propagandizing businessmenthat they are unaware of the dangers of carelessly “copying” off the principles of a one-sided group on such a vital subject as the American heritage. But this seems to be the case. P RINCIPAL Jerry Smith of Southeast Elementary y in Sweetwater is an earnest young administrator. He was shocked that. there might be a question about the program, staunchly denied any question of outside influence, and conducted a tour of the classrooms, freely showing everything. Mrs. W. E. Blewett said in her second grade room, “There’s not anybody telling us how to teach ! We each have our different interests as teachers.” On her classroom’s walls the students’ exhibits _were displayed : “Our American Heritage of Religious Freedom.” “All People Have Rights for Brotherhood.” “Freedom of Speech.” “People Have Righ t s to Vote Like They Want to.” “We Have Rights.” In a fifth grade the students had carried out a theme, “I’m no plippet !” “We Are Free to Speak or Right, Have Privacy, Worship, Vote. In America,’. everyone is important.” There was one exhibit which read: AND CUBA general was being made by Farm Research. The study was concerned with Castro’s land reform plans. Figures on large blocks of holdings affected by these plans are given in the December number of Facts for Farmers. Houston trade interest in Latin America is great and well publicized. Could that be the reason the wily Governor of New York waited until he arrived in Harris County before tackling the thorny problem of desegregationto divert conversation? Solomon said, “the way of a man with a maid is strange …” Kipling added, “Yet simple and tame compared to the way of a man with a horse when selling or trading that same.” Does some modern-day wise man wish to go further and delineate the way of a statesman with “backward” nations when settling or “developing” the same? M.F.C. them, or occasionally inspire them. It is axiomatic that where the people are indif ferent to their government, their government will be indifferent to them and privilege and corruption will grow in every soil. Any ignoramus can scratch a ballot and a good many of them do, but the first obligation of the citizen is to be interested and informed in government. This is the only effective guarantee of good government. Over the entrance to the state house of Nebraska are inscribed these words, “The watchfulness of the people is the salvation of -the state.” It is to this concept that the teaching of civics in Texas must be dedicated. This should be our rationale for a course of study. Through the teaching of government, a trans formation can be wrought in Texas. When one sees the reaction of these young people to these ideas, he begins to grasp the faith of Jefferson in the common sense and common decency of the common man. With these few things in mind, perhaps our conservative friends will smile indulgently if we occasionally show our liberal coattails. THOMAS YOAKUM “Freedom to advertise, freedom of selling. freedom of owning pets, freedom of medical care, freedom of banking, freedom to expand, freedom to borrow money, freedom of ownership, freedom of owning homes, freedom of farming.” As in almost all the rooms, large pictures of Eisenhower and Nixon graced the walls. A sixth grade exhibit emphasized “Just Payment for PropertyRight to Trial by JuryNo Illegal Loss of LibertyFreedom of Worship.” ‘A horn of plenty on another sixthgrade classroom wall was surrounded by these words: “We are thankful for our freedom “I can worship God “I must obey laws “I can live where my parents want me to “I can watch Television “I can vote for leaders in my class “I can own my own things “I can read what I want to “I am innocent until I’m proven guilty “I can go to school “I can go to church “I can pledge the flag “I can say what I want to as long as I dO not hurt my neighbor “I can get a good education “I can go to the shows “I can play “I can write what I want to as long as I do not hurt my neighbor.” MRS. WOODWARD is a happy, intelligent woman, energetic, concerned, and devoted to the public schools. She is the kind of ‘teacher a school boy would love ; she would care about him. This is the first, and perhaps it is the only defense against the propagandizers who try to infiltrate the schools : the teachers themselves; the liberal American heritage as it is manifest in the habits of the teachers. They are the most important citizens. They, not the superintendents, educate the young. They, not the principals, pass on their sense of the heritage, the knowledge of the race, to the generation coming. They must answer first and last for the young men and women the schools produce. May they be preserved from influ ences too reputable for them to sus pect and too subtle for them to resist. R D. THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 5 , Jan. 1, 1960 The Most Important Citizens
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.