Rationality Now Rotating Header Image

More Trouble for Texas Education

schooldesk Texas just hosted a long, drawn-out debate about science standards (specifically pertaining to biology and evolution) which resulted in a mixed bag of results. Some major points were made in favor of actual science while other points in favor of non-science (ie… creationism) were slipped in as minor addendums to the policy.

It seems that the shenanigans are now heading over to the subject of American history.

Outside “experts” (quoted because obviously some of them aren’t) reviewing the Social Studies curriculum in Texas evidently want to make changes in the history classes. As this article in the Wall Street Journal states:

Three reviewers, appointed by social conservatives, have recommended revamping the K-12 curriculum to emphasize the roles of the Bible, the Christian faith and the civic virtue of religion in the study of American history. Two of them want to remove or de-emphasize references to several historical figures who have become liberal icons, such as César Chávez and Thurgood Marshall.

This is beyond absurdity. These are people who are obviously driven by a fundamentalist agenda that want to insert their religious dogma into, it seems, every aspect of public education in an attempt to force it down the throats of our children. Not only do they want to indoctrinate their own children with their baseless beliefs, but they want to indoctrinate everyone else’s children, too.

There are some voices of reason involved in the issue, fortunately.

But the emphasis on Christianity as a driving force is disputed by some historians, who focus on the economic motivation of many colonists and the fractured views of religion among the Founding Fathers. “There appears to me too much politics in some of this,” said Lybeth Hodges, a professor of history at Texas Woman’s University and another of the curriculum reviewers.

However, if the science debates were any indication, some on the Texas Board of Education (think McLeroy, who thankfully is no longer the board chair) think that there needs to be someone who stands up to these real experts. It seems they think we can’t have experts making determinations about issues relating to their fields. That would evidently be crazytown.

In that one little WSJ article, there is so much infuriating ignorance. Here’s a small sampling.

  • The conservative reviewers say they believe that children must learn that America’s founding principles are biblical. For instance, they say the separation of powers set forth in the Constitution stems from a scriptural understanding of man’s fall and inherent sinfulness, or “radical depravity,” which means he can be governed only by an intricate system of checks and balances.
  • “The foundational principles of our country are very biblical…. That needs to come out in the textbooks.”
  • “We’re in an all-out moral and spiritual civil war for the soul of America, and the record of American history is right at the heart of it,” said Rev. Peter Marshall, a Christian minister and one of the reviewers appointed by the conservative camp.
  • Reviewer David Barton suggests swapping out “republican” for “democratic” in teaching materials. As he explains: “We don’t pledge allegiance to the flag and the democracy for which it stands.”

Evidently, David Barton is ignorant, not just of American history, but of the different between “democratic” when used to refer to a form of government and “Democratic” when used to refer to a political party.

This nonsense has to stop. Texas, because of its size, has a huge influence on the textbook market, and the crass, ignorant, fundamentalist proselytizing by these right-wing school board members and their advisors is hurting not just children in Texas, but children across the country. I wrote recently about how education is the key to overcoming theistic intrusion into our government, schools, and private lives… but I specified that it needs to be real education, not this kind of god-soaked, ideological make-believe that some of the Texas BOE are proposing.

Texans should be up in arms over this.

(thanks to Hemant at The Friendly Atheist)

Leave a Reply