Sunday, March 14, 2010

Texas Revisited :Rewriting History For The Next Generation

Dear Readers, please answer me this:

Why did the Pilgrims risk life and limb, leave behind all they knew and loved, and crossed the ocean in miserable conditions to reach this New World?

a) They got a great price for a family vacation on
b) They thought they were taking the 3-day San Diego/Catalina/Ensenada cruise.
c) They were being persecuted for their religion in their own land and wanted to form a nation based on the separation of church and state.
d) They wanted to form a new Christian theocracy on another continenet.

If you answered a) or b) above, then you should log off now, and go read, look at a map or enjoy the great outdoors. If you answered c) above, then you just failed the upcoming Texas standards-based test in history. However, if you chose d), well, boy howdy! You must be reading some kid's copy of the soon-to-be-published Texas' State Adopted  U.S. History textbook.

If you're one of my regulars, you know I've been following the nutjobs on the Texas State Textbook Adoption Committee, a group of 15 folks who have just passed some 100 amendments to a 120 page curriculum standards document. Nowadays, all states have content standards, which is generally a good thing, but most states take an approach toward history standards that are based on...wait for it... historical fact. Novel ideal, huh? Innovative! Earth-shaking! Unless you're in Texas, which makes it blasphemy.

Remember earlier this year when The President made his speech to encourage American schoolchildren to work hard, respect their teachers and set goals for themselves? Remember how the right-wing mouthpieces called it propagandizing, and accused him of exposing children to his "agenda"? So, now the 10 Rethugs on the committee of 15 textbook panel members have passed their own propaganda agenda, which includes the following and more:
  • Teaching the pseudo-science "Creationism" alongside Darwin's theory of evolution, as if the former had any scientific, factual credibility.
  • An exclusion of Hispanic leaders in history texts, and an inclusion of Black Panthers to contrast it to the nonviolent protests of Martin Luther King, Jr. 
  • More revisionism regarding racism, by adding that, in addition to Japanese who were placed in interment camps, Germans and Italians were detained as well (does that dilute the racism??? Seems to me to spread it further...)
  • Teaching that the separation of church and state is a "liberal myth" propagated by those public school heretics.
  • Introduces The  Heritage Foundation, the NRA, Phyllis Schlafly and the Moral Majority as topics of study for the modern age.
  • Giving Rethugs credit for the passage of the Civil Rights Act (I know! That's like giving them credit for Health Care!)
  • A validation of McCarthyism's claim that the government really was being run by Commies.
  • Replacing "capitalism" with "free-market system" because, as conservative committee member Terri Leo states, "Let's face it, capitalism has a negative connotation...You know, "Capitalist pig!"
  • Cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of writers who inspired revolutionary thought, and replaced him with John Calvin and William Bradford. 
When I first wrote about this committee last year, I thought that, most certainly, the airing out in sunlight by the media would cause the insanity to be recognized. Ah, but this is Texas we're talking about. One member has not been reelected to his post, now that the damage has been done. The standards document will be posted for public comment, but acting on any comments is at the discretion of the same board, with its 10-5 majority (9-5 now...). The Times 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.
 This is the type of reasoning we're dealing with. And if this were national politics, it would be appalling, but de riguer for the Rethugs. But this is a battle for hearts and minds, the hearts and minds of America's schoolchildren. Talk about pushing an agenda? Talk about propagandizing? This is revisonist history at its finest, a running of  science and history down "the memory hole,"  as Big Brotheresque as it gets.   
"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."

Well, here, Mr. Real Estate-Gone-Constitutional-Scholar, is where that notion resides, and any fifth grader can tell you so: The First Amendment of The U.S. Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I've emailed this gentleman to stake my claim on the $1,000 and send him a link to the First Amendment at the National Archives site. I will keep you posted as to his response, and by all means, feel free to follow the link above and claim your $1,000. Send the word out to your friends and neighbors, too - hey, who couldn't use an extra grand about now???

As a side note: Bradley is an Eagle Scout, too...certainly not one I would hold up as an example of citizenship to Little Man, my newly bridged Boy Scout. "A Scout is Trustworthy," the first point of the Scout Law, means that a Scout always tells the truth. He is sorely lacking in this regard, and obviously sneaked past his "Citizenship in The Nation" merit badge, which requires explicit knowledge of the Amendments to The U.S. Constitution. And yes, in my email, I told him so...stay tuned for further developments.

As angry as all this makes me, not only because of the slander against the professionalism of teachers across this nation, not just because it is all so horribly wrongheaded, it is the fact that these real estate salesmen and dentists are being voted into office on the Texas State Board of Education. The voters of Texas either agree with these incredulous curricular claims, were too lazy to go out to what was just a school board election, or don't care what is being taught in public schools. Now, that's terrifying.Add to that the idea that Phyllis Schlafly and the GOP push for Civil Rights legislation is what we'll be teaching Texas' kids, and so many more nationwide due to the pull Texas has in the textbook industry, and, dear God, I fear for the future of our country. Ignaorance is bliss, but knowingly spreading ignorance is immoral and just plain criminal.

For your perusal (these were hidden well!):
Texas proposed elementaary school social studies standards
Texas proposed middle school social studies standards
Texas proposed high school social studies standards

And...make your public comment on the link here.

Many thanks to Tweenie for patiently typing for momma today while my back and shoulders are not 100%. What a great kid. Even better is that she was appalled by all she read about this nonsense today. Thanks,
Tweenie - Momma is proud of you! :)

Your turn, my fellow Politicos. What are  textbook standards like in your state? Who makes the determination as to what is taught? Are they elected to office? Does this gall you as much as it does me? I'd love to hear from you, so join the conversation!