The Texas Board of Education, internationally known and mocked for its absurd battle against science, particularly evolution, has now worked over the social studies curriculum in a similar manner. They’ve been talking about it for awhile now… removing references to Thomas Jefferson and the like… but they finally too the vote and decided to go ahead with their plan to rewrite history in a way that more closely follows their strict ideological philosophy.
The New York Times reports on the vote and what it means. Since Texas is one of the largest textbook consumers, publishers tend to follow Texas guidelines on what to include in their books. What that means is that students in other parts of the country will possibly have to deal with the consequences of the Texas BOE’s ignorance.
The article mentions this influence, but also notes a bright spot.
The board, whose members are elected, has influence beyond Texas because the state is one of the largest buyers of textbooks. In the digital age, however, that influence has diminished as technological advances have made it possible for publishers to tailor books to individual states.
On one hand, it’s good that Texas won’t necessarily be foisting its idiocy onto the rest of the country. On the other hand, it’s a bit disconcerting that publishers would tailor their books to individual states. Does that mean that different states will teach a different “version” of history… or science… or math?
An interesting point of note about the Texas BOE is this (from the same article):
There were no historians, sociologists or economists consulted at the meetings, though some members of the conservative bloc held themselves out as experts on certain topics.
That fits the mentality of former board chairman Don McLeroy, who famously stated that someone needs to “stand up to these experts.” His thinking is fairly representative of the thinking of more than half the board. This is a group of right-wing, religious ideologues who want to force their twisted interpretation of reality onto our country’s children.
Some of the more disturbing quotes from the article follow.
The conservative members maintain that they are trying to correct what they see as a liberal bias among the teachers who proposed the curriculum. To that end, they made dozens of minor changes aimed at calling into question, among other things, concepts like the separation of church and state and the secular nature of the American Revolution.
“I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”
Interestingly, his contingent’s idea of the United States being formed based on Christian principles and favoring Christianity is nowhere in the Constitution, so it seems a little hypocritical for him to accuse his opponents of making stuff up. At least the “separation of church and state” is a valid interpretation of the First Amendment. There is absolutely nothing in the Constitution about favoring Christianity.
Other changes seem aimed at tamping down criticism of the right. Conservatives passed one amendment, for instance, requiring that the history of McCarthyism include “how the later release of the Venona papers confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government.” The Venona papers were transcripts of some 3,000 communications between the Soviet Union and its agents in the United States.
So they want McCarthy to be one of the good guys? Seriously?
Mavis B. Knight, a Democrat from Dallas, introduced an amendment requiring that students study the reasons “the founding fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring the government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others.”
It was defeated on a party-line vote.
Wow. I’m wondering how David Bradley can justify that vote.
Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”)
These people are ideologically twisted religious fundamentalists who have no business deciding education standards. Their own educations seem to be monumentally lacking in any sort of reality-based concepts, whether relating to science or history. Their sole goal seems to be to shove their narrow-minded, right-wing, self righteous religious zealotry down the throats of children. Their goal isn’t to provide a decent education.
Their goal is to self-perpetuate their divine ignorance.