Saturday, May 22, 2010

Texas Board of Education's bid for righteous history

IT WAS A good week, sort of, for Thomas Jefferson. It was a horrendous week for James Madison and Ted Kennedy as well as the school kids in Texas. It came about as a group of demonic religious conservatives - Christians, they call themselves - managed to change what public school students can and cannot read in their textbooks. Book-burner Savanarola never had it so good as he was led to the stake.

After a long and divisive contest to obliterate Jefferson from textbooks (he believed, as you know, in separation of church and state), he managed to barely make the cut and get a mention in the revisionists new textbooks. Madison and Kennedy weren't so fortunate as the Texas Board of Education voted 9-5 to brainwash the young folks with an upgrade of Joe McCarthy, never mind that he was such a heavy drinker that it drove him to his grave. Ah, Phyllis Schlafly, at age 85, is back in print, too. Occasionally known as the conservatives' godmother, she made it to the top of their list back in the early 1960s in the Goldwater-LBJ campaign, offering the voters a shred of wisdom in her authored "A Choice not an Echo," which turned out to be no more than a mosquito bite for LBJ.

The new curriculum standards, which become effective in 2012-13, deal with the old right-wing standbys that the revisionsists insist need to play a greater role in a young person's education: anti-climate change and anti-separation of church and state. The shopping list is much longer, but you get the point.

You'd think that by now, some of these folks on the school board would be a lot more concerned that Texas ranks 49th in verbal SAT scores and 46th in average math scores. But that isn't the way the game is played these days in the Lone Star State. Gov. Rick Perry, who says some loony things from time to time, is strongly supportive of the state board's action. That isn't true of the 1,200 or so college historians who say the new standards distort the historical record.

There are many Texans, of course, who are embarrassed by the board's action - but not enough of them to vote out the religitics who are driving the bus. The vote, the papers down there noted, was along party lines and the Republicans prevailed. Not only that, they prevailed with confidence that a Christian God is on their side. As board member Cynthia Dunbar said in her opening prayer for the historic board meeting, America is a "Christian land governed by Christian principles." (Dunbar, a lawyer, has complained that the current educational standards are "unconstitutional, tyrannical and tools of perversion."

Someday the book burners may decide to live by the principles they pretend to uphold. But it's a long shot.


fargo said...

Next time Texas threatens to succeed from the union I think it would be to everyones benefit to just let them.

ReaganFan84 said...

Just like the new Arizona immigration law, this is much ado about nothing. I think in both cases, the left is really reaching in their perpetual need to be outraged. Everything that I have read about the curriculum changes in Texas seems rather sensible to me.

Let's be honest, the real problem here is that liberals do not like having their monopoly on public education challenged. PERIOD. To compare it to book burning is just more over the top rhetoric and hyperbole.

What are the specific changes that people find objectionable?

Grumpy Abe said...

Dear ReaganFan O0: Specifically, the insufferable behavior of those who want to expel Jefferson, Madison and Kennedy from history; Specifically those who want to create a Christian-only nation in a land of many religious beliefs; Specifically, those who contend that public education is unconstitutional. But thanks for setting me straight on the 1,200 college historians who find the board's actions absurd, And thanks for keeping in touch. It's evidence that sensible people in this country still have a lot of work ahead of them to spare us of the slow readers.

fargo said...

The new texts make it appear that Joe McCarthy was justified.

The new texts refer to the "slave trade" as the "Atlantic Triangular Trade". I guess placing kidnapped Africans in the same category as sugar cane makes for a nicer story for the kids.

My guess is new texts will refer to the massive stock piles of weapons of mass destruction we found in Iraq. Better yet they will probably try to tell us that God, not man created the faces on Mt Rushmore.

An honorable conservative would appalled. Do you know any Reaganfan?

Mencken said...

RF84: The school boards that run public education are elected positions and hardly qualify as monopolies. You yourself can run for a school board position anytime you choose.

On the other hand Christian schools and texts offer little or no input from the electorate. Do you consider those "schools" monopolies as well ?

It would be considered bad form for me to stand up and challenge a preacher, or yell "Bullshit" during his sermon. Consequently it's bad form to inject supernaturalism and revisionism into science and history classes. If you choose to get your version of the truth on Sunday mornings, more power to you.
You can trust that no scientists will interrupt your prayers or edit your Bible.

But your end of the bargain is not to meddle with the biology classes and bowdlerize texts. Seem fair enough?

ReaganFan84 said...

I am still trying to determine exactly what I am supposed to be outraged about. Thomas Jefferson was not removed from the curriculum, nor did the school board ever try to completely remove him. And while renaming the slave trade as the "Atlantic Triangular Trade" might seem odd on the surface, it doesn't quite rise to the level of "book burning".

Some of the other "outrages" that I have read about include teaching children about the devaluation of the dollar, the rise of conservatism in the 1980's, and describing the United States as a "constitutional republic". So which of those things are worthy of condemnation? Which are untrue? I am still confused.

So no, I really don't care if these changes have been condemned by 1,200 college professors. Like I stated above, the American education system is completely dominated by the left. That these professors might object to having their orthodoxy challenged should be a surprise to no one. Besides, when has the media ever expressed concern about liberal bias in our schools?

ReaganFan84 said...


Regarding Texas threatening to "succeed"......they don't have to threaten anything. The state of Texas has already succeeded in having one of the highest rates of job creation, economic growth, and population growth in the entire country. It truly is a shining beacon for prosperity in these tough economic times.

So instead of mocking those "teabaggin rednecks" down in Texas, we should be emulating them. Especially those of us living in Ohio.