TEXtbooks

From The New York Times:

AUSTIN, Tex. — After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.

The vote was 10 to 5 along party lines, with all the Republicans on the board voting for it.

The board, whose members are elected, has influence beyond Texas because the state is one of the largest buyers of textbooks.


Original DVD cover

In recent years, board members have been locked in an ideological battle between a bloc of conservatives who question Darwin’s theory of evolution and believe the Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles, and a handful of Democrats and moderate Republicans who have fought to preserve the teaching of Darwinism and the separation of church and state.

…snip…

“We are adding balance,” said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”

Battles over what to put in science and history books have taken place for years in the 20 states where state boards must adopt textbooks, most notably in California and Texas. But rarely in recent history has a group of conservative board members left such a mark on a social studies curriculum.

Efforts by Hispanic board members to include more Latino figures as role models for the state’s large Hispanic population were consistently defeated, prompting one member, Mary Helen Berlanga, to storm out of a meeting late Thursday night, saying, “They can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist.”

“They are going overboard, they are not experts, they are not historians,” she said. “They are rewriting history, not only of Texas but of the United States and the world.”

…snip…

There are seven members of the conservative bloc on the board, but they are often joined by one of the other three Republicans on crucial votes. 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.

The conservative members maintain that they are trying to correct what they see as a liberal bias among the teachers who proposed the curriculum.

…snip…

“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.”

They also included a plank to ensure that students learn about “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.”

Dr. McLeroy, a dentist by training, pushed through a change to the teaching of the civil rights movement to ensure that students study the violent philosophy of the Black Panthers in addition to the nonviolent approach of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He also made sure that textbooks would mention the votes in Congress on civil rights legislation, which Republicans supported.

…snip…

Mr. Bradley won approval for an amendment saying students should study “the unintended consequences” of the Great Society legislation, affirmative action and Title IX legislation. He also won approval for an amendment stressing that Germans and Italians as well as Japanese were interned in the United States during World War II, to counter the idea that the internment of Japanese was motivated by racism.

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.

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.

…snip…

In economics, the revisions add Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek, two champions of free-market economic theory, among the usual list of economists to be studied, like Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes. They also replaced the word “capitalism” throughout their texts with the “free-enterprise system.”

“Let’s face it, capitalism does have a negative connotation,” said one conservative member, Terri Leo. “You know, ‘capitalist pig!’ ”

…snip…

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.”)

“The Enlightenment was not the only philosophy on which these revolutions were based,” Ms. Dunbar said.

30 Comments

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30 responses to “TEXtbooks

  1. Wow, they brought Uncle Milty Friedman’s Chilean miracle to the masses. I wonder if they’ll also talk about the way Allende was repeatedly attacked by the CIA and forces of the free enterprise system and how Pinochet tortured and terrorized the citizens while privatizing the nation’s resources and destroying the living wage and economy. Kinda think that’s not the Friedman success story they’re going to hear around the textbook bonfire in Midland… I really think I want to coincide my retirement with teaching my two youngest boys myself when I read shit like this.

    • what floored me is that there was not an economist or historian on the panel. in fact, i read that the last moron cited, cynthia dunbar, didn’t even send her kids to public school! they were either home-schooled or in christian schools. she thinks that state-run taxpayer-funded schools are inappropriate (her word). what they really want are for public schools to teach christianity.

      • jeb

        The conferring of a medical degree – or even a Dr. of denistry – would hopefully indicate an understanding of science which requires rigorous objectivity.

        “We are adding balance,” said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”

        Anyone who says anything this fucking stupid should no longer be allowed to be called Dr.

  2. jeb

    Ah yes, Texas continues it’s headlong charge back into the 19th century.

    There are many reasons I left Texas and when I read crap like this it makes me glad my children aren’t being raised there.

    More of the same though. We were required to study Texas History in the seventh grade. All pomp and rah-rah about the brave white settlers standing up to the tyranny of the dictator. Of course, no mention that the Mexican Government had followed the Vatican’s lead and abolished slavery and the white immigrants into Tejas kept violating that law. God forbid we learn anything like that.

    • jeb! 😀

      it looks like these textbooks are going to be the worst things to hit a texas book depository since lee harvey oswald. (i wonder if they’ll be moving the jfk assassination to a liberal city, like new yawk or san francisco.)

  3. What the Liars for Jesus have done sucks so badly, I’m going to let The Joker comment for me.

  4. I halfway expected you might have chosen a Tom Sawyer theme– a lot of Whitewash going on!

    Let’s all be glad for Howard Zinn’s book, A People’s History of the United State’s.

    Seriously though…. can you imagine trying to put a positive spin on Bush2?
    “The torture years”.

    Comedians will have a heyday w the new fiction/history books.

    • unfortunately, comedians are not focused on school books. colbert and jon stewart will have fun with it, but then it will be forgotten. it’s up to parents and teachers to keep up the hue and cry over this crap that these fundies are trying to present as history.

  5. Where do you start? How about getting the toothman to send that donation to Roger Williams University. The wall of seperation didn’t originate with Jefferson any more than “iron cutain” did with Churchill, it was from Goebels. The remarks about locking up Germans and Italians is laughable. POWs yes, civilians not hardly. One can easily trace the anti Japanese movement back to the gold rush and particularly the Japanese Exclusion Act of 1926 which is totally racist. By the way, your bloodline had to be traced back four generations to avoid internment (the nazis only went back three). There will be no mention of the hundred brave Tejanos that fought and died at the Alamo. The only things these types hold dear are power and money. And there is no doubt who their divine guidance comes from. Might as well take that last step and have manditory enrollment in Reagan Youth.

    • it’s one thing for texas to elect these asswipes and dumb down their students, but it’s really tragic that so many other states will be effected, too. it’s a pity that textbook companies no longer have any integrity whatsoever. most writers want their product to have authenticity. apparently, profits are more important than the truth.

  6. Joanaroo

    Sounds like a Hitler Youth Movement is starting in Texas. Supposedly Hitler was religious too and the Texas Christians are starting up the brainwashing/propaganda machine starting with textbooks.

  7. Joanaroo

    Wonder if they will put in a communication that Daddy George Bush had concerning the fact he was doing business in Dallas the day President Kennedy was assassinated, even though he claims he was not there and has no recollection of where he was when the shooting occured. It’s like that good ol’ Reagan forgetfulness.

    • it’s really frightening, and one can only hope that there are parents who will tell their kids the truth. if not, let’s hope the kids will question what they’re being told and check out the information for themselves.

  8. Why, it makes this old carny want to open up a midway again, knowing that there are so many guileless marks who think that saying you have Jesus in your heart is the preeminent, nay the only qualification for an office where factual, rational adult decisions regarding the education of children are to be made.

    The pig-palignorant who homeschool their progeny as a strategy of keeping them trapped like a fly in stupid jes’ like Ma, Pappy and Uncle Rector (the knothole’s boon companion) have as much business running a state board of education as political types who dream of drowning governments in bathtubs do getting elected to high office and making decisions of global affect…These are the termite terrorists within America’s borders.

    ;>)

    • yayyy for pig-palignorant! i really have to remember to keep using palignorant until it catches on in wider circles.

      i wonder what mcleroy would say if he found out someone was filling teeth without having taken any dental courses and only read a few select books on the subject (ones, of course, that only reflected their already existing view of dentistry).

      • Yoo don’ knead that fancy-pants citee-fied book-larnin’ no moore – par o’ vice-gripz (knot tha cheep Wal Mert-kind, mind), Jeebus by yoar syde an’ a boddle o’ MERICAN whiskee…whoo boy howdy, instunned dennist jes’ lahk ol’ Doc McLeroy.

        ;>).

  9. Hi Nonnie! 🙂

    I did a rant on this subject as well. It’s downright pathetic to think about the legions of TX students who will be taught all the lies and obfuscations the rightwing nutters like to call facts.

    I know I have not been around in a while..but hopefully I will pick up the pace..been a rough winter.

    • dusty! 😀

      long time, no see! well, actually, i see you, but you don’t see me. i go over to your place every day, but my computer’s been going all screwy when i try to comment, so i just lurk.

      it’s really pathetic that texas kids will be getting an indoctrination instead of an education, and it’s even sadder that the palignorance will be bleeding into other states as well.

  10. These guys also wanted to talk about how Joe McCarthy was right, skip Watergate, and so on.

    You know, I’m considering running for the school board in my home town because I love kids and love learning, and I want to be part of making it happen.

    These people get their hands into education because they want to limit education and prevent learning.

    Basically, whether they know it or not, they hate kids.

    • mcleroy has also said that everyone in the women’s and civil right’s movement were really inconsequential, because it was white men who gave them the rights that they have. the man is an idiot, and anyone who voted for him is dumber than he is.

  11. Pingback: A Few of My Favorite Zings | HYSTERICAL RAISINS

  12. I live in Texas, born and raised. I consider it my duty to remain behind and put in my 2 cents when these fundamentalist nincompoops go at it. If for no other reason than to cancel out one Repooblican vote with mine. Rewriting history books is one of my biggest peeves.

    • good on you for sticking around and fighting the good fight. i feel your pain. i love in floriduhhh, and i never miss voting. fat lotta good it’s done. we have a governor who should be in jail, a faux teabagger for a senator, and a legislature that couldn’t find its way out of a paper bag.

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