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Auchter's Art: The Colbeck Curriculum

John Auchter
Michigan Radio

Michigan state Senator and gubernatorial candidate Patrick Colbeck was involved in recent efforts to update the social studies curriculum for K–12 public schools. Colbeck's stated goals were to “remove partisanship from the classroom” and move students towards a more "politically neutral" dialogue that offers a balanced view of historical issues. 

Perhaps he is sincere, but few promulgate a more politically non-neutral agenda than Patrick Colbeck.

One of the more revealing examples of Colbeck's ambitions is his assertion that the term "democratic" implies partisan leanings. As a result, 13 references to “core democratic values” have been deleted or changed to “core values.” Politicians defining word usage for all has "dystopian" written all over it. More chilling, Colbeck confided that he only got about a 10th of what he wanted.

Colbeck reminds me of Frank Burns, the character played by Larry Linville in the 1970s sitcom, M*A*S*H. Specifically, the episode in which the 4077 is preparing for a visit from General Douglas McArthur. The scene opens with Frank merrily tossing items into a fire as fellow doctors, Trapper and Hawkeye, approach:

Trapper: Frank! What are you doing?

Frank Burns: Burning books.

Hawkeye: Oh. Any special reason, Dr. Hitler?

Frank Burns: One of the greatest living Americans is coming and I'm not going to let him see some of the trash that's read around here.

Trapper: Plato's Republic? The Life of Red Grange?

Hawkeye: Revolutionaries.

Frank Burns: Right!

Trapper: Robinson Crusoe?

Hawkeye: Everybody runs around half naked.

Trapper: Norman Mailer.

Frank Burns: It's got *that word* in it.

Hawkeye: Frank, you burn one more book, I'm gonna give you a dancing lesson in the mine field.

Can we at least agree that the last person we want our next governor to emulate is Frank Burns?

John Auchter is a freelance editorial cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.

Since 1995 John has created Michigan-based editorial cartoons for the Grand Rapids Business Journal, the Grand Rapids Press, and MLive Newspapers. His cartoons are currently featured at MichiganPublic.org and are syndicated to newspapers through the Michigan Press Association. John is an active member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. You can view an archive of his editorial work and other cartoons at Auchtoon.com.
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