AUSTIN, TX – The House Committee on Higher Education held a public hearing today to address two of the committee’s interim charges, including a charge to study the feasibility of offering an optional curriculum that emphasizes ethics, Western civilization, and American traditions to satisfy portions of the Texas Core Curriculum.
“There is a crisis of ethics in this country that is undeniable,” said Dr. Robert Koons, professor of philosophy at University of Texas at Austin. “Historically, higher education has played an important role in morals and ethics.”
Koons stated that there is a diminishing focus on ethics, Western civilization and American traditions in colleges and universities nationwide. He expressed the need for an optional integrated sequence of interdisciplinary courses that focus on the great books of Western civilization.
“Universities are failing in their mission to prepare students in the fundamentals of Western civilization,” said Steve Balch, president of the National Association of Scholars. Balch indicated that Texas should take advantage of the opportunity to take the lead in this issue and become a model for the rest of the nation.
The Coalition for American Traditions and Ethics (CATE) commends Speaker Joe Straus and Chairman Dan Branch for recognizing the importance of a study on this issue, and applauds the House Committee on Higher Education for conducting a productive hearing.
“This study by the Higher Education Committee represents a significant milestone in the efforts to renew the emphasis of our country’s founding principles through a study of Western civilization and American traditions in Texas colleges and universities,” said Emily Songy, spokesperson for CATE Texas. “We will continue to work with lawmakers and other interested parties to ensure that they understand the value of exposing university students to this type of coursework.”
The Coalition for American Traditions and Ethics in Texas (CATE) is a broad-based coalition including university faculty, civic leaders, students, and employers united in an effort to promote the establishment of coursework and programs studying Western civilization and American traditions to foster the development of ethical character and civic responsibility among Texas college and university students. The Coalition’s website is www.HigherEduCATE.org.