The Texas Textbook Massacre
From MSNBC. I have had to do alot of deep breathing exercises after hearing that the Texas School Board actually approved new textbook content which basically ignores facts and real history in exchange for propagandized/altered history which offers a right-leaning, conservative twist. Am I the only one outraged as a parent, teacher, and citizen? Although I don't live in Texas, I worry about the long-term consequences in Texas and the domino effect this decision may have in other states since many states order from the model of Texas. Is there anythying that can be done to stop this political power move? I feel rather powerless at the moment but I thought I'd try to sprinkle some hope into my blog on this topic.
AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas State Board of Educationadopted a social studies and history curriculum Friday that amends orwaters down the teaching of the civil rights movement, religiousfreedoms, America's relationship with the U.N. and hundreds of otheritems.
The newstandards were adopted after a final showdown by two 9-5 votes alongparty lines, after Democrats' and moderate Republicans' efforts todelay a final vote failed.
Theideological debate over the guidelines, which drew intense scrutinybeyond Texas, will be used to determine what important political eventsand figures some 4.8 million students will learn about for the nextdecade.
I do see some promise if Bill White becomes Governor of Texas. This article from TPM is comforting in that he acknowledges the flawed decision and vows to fight it as best he can if elected. That's a big IF in a state like Texas that is not known to be very progressive (no offense if you live there but Perry leads by about 10 or more points in most polls so that says alot!) I think it's time for me to throw a few bucks towards the campaign of Bill White.
Texas' Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White has a plan for his state's new right-wing history textbook standards: fix 'em.
White saidthis weekend that if he wins in November, he'd select a new chairmanfor the state Board of Education to "undo some of the damage" done bythe state's new history textbook standards.
"Obviously, I would pick a chair who would try to undo some of the damage that is being done as quickly as we can," he said."We should have standards which reflect the views of professionaleducators and historians and respect the integrity of that processrather than injecting political ideology in the classroom -- regardlesswhere that ideology came in the political spectrum."
The new standards recast U.S. history from the point of view of a movement conservative.
I was glad to see some organized petition drives (from Education Change) and this organized protest of the decision by an Atheist group but I certainly hope to see more collective action across the country over the coming weeks and months.
This opinion piece from the Daily Gazette summarizes most of my feelings and fears but does offer some reassurance that this misguided decision will not poison other states as badly as we might think and may even be a short-lived experiment. As citizens who care about education and history, we can only hope.
It isn’t just that school kids in Texas — 4.8 million of themcurrently — could come of age with a different understanding of ourcountry’s past. It’s that the Texas version of history could filterinto other states. Traditionally, Texas has led the way in setting thestandards for textbooks in much of the nation because of itssignificant buying power.
So, at least in theory, the Texas revisionist history which says,among other things, that the shameful 1950s era of McCarthyism waslater vindicated, could end up in textbooks right here in Schenectady.
In reality, our dinner host pointed out, current technology makes itmuch easier for publishers to make changes in texts according to theindividual states’ preferences so there’s little likelihood ofSchenectady students being forced to read Confederacy PresidentJefferson Davis’ rebuttal of President Abraham Lincoln’s inauguraladdress.
The debate preceding the Texas vote, at least from my perspective,can be reduced to a philosophical question. Should history be taught byhistorians or should politicians be allowed to alter our view of ournational past?
And there is no question about the decision in Texas being part of a political agenda.
...Not everyone is comfortable with politicians rewriting history. U.S.Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, “Parents should be very wary ofpoliticians’ designing curriculum.”
Others, like Don McElroy, a leader of the Texas revisionists, sayschanges are needed to add balance in the classroom because “academia isskewed too far to the left.”
Evidently that’s why the changed textbooks will no longer refer toour capitalism-based economy, but will call it a “free-enterprisesystem.”
An earlier proposal to expand material on Latino history and culturewas defeated, despite Texas’ rapidly expanding Hispanic population.
No longer will Texas textbooks make any reference to American “imperialism.” Think “expansionism” instead.
Social progress of the 1960s — like Title IX, which requires equalgender access to educational resources, and affirmative action,designed to at least partially address workplace discrimination againstAfrican-Americans — will be summarized as having adverse “unintendedconsquences.”
Texas students will learn that the U.S. Constitution does not mandate separation of church and state.
Thomas Jefferson is to be dropped from the roster of writers whoinfluenced the country’s intellectualism. But students will learn aboutthe medieval Catholic philosopher Thomas Aquinas, a saint in the RomanCatholic Church, and Puritan theologian John Calvin.
I’m not sure if the recommendations for changes in the Texastextbooks on important cultural movements were approved. The proposalsincluded dropping the African-American hip-hop music genre and addingcountry and western music.