AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas State Board of Education agreed to new social studies standards on Friday after the far-right faction wielded its power to shape the lessons that will be taught to millions of students on American history, the U.S. free enterprise system, religion and other topics…. As part of the new curriculum, the elected board — made up of lawyers, a dentist and a weekly newspaper publisher among others — rejected an attempt to ensure that children learn why the U.S. was founded on the principle of religious freedom. But, it agreed to strengthen nods to Christianity by adding references to “laws of nature and nature’s God” to a section in U.S. history that requires students to explain major political ideas. They also agreed to strike the word “democratic” in references to the form of U.S. government, opting instead to call it a “constitutional republic.”…. In addition to learning the Bill of Rights, the board specified a reference to the Second Amendment right to bear arms in a section about citizenship in a U.S. government class and agreed to require economics students to “analyze the decline of the U.S. dollar including abandonment of the gold standard.”
Having lived in Texas for 10+ years before making my escape back here to Oregon, I can’t claim to be surprised at this news, having seen it coming for quite some time. What does surprise me is the degree to which the ignorant, self-righteous ideologues on the Texas State Board of Edumication are willing to thumb their noses at the rest of the civilized world. SBOE to the rest of us: “)&^% you…. History is what WE decide it is!!” Ideology is one thing; we all believe in something…or at least I’d hope that would be the case. But when education jumps over the line to indoctrination…with both feet…well, y’all must be in Texas, eh?
When one of the first headlines you see is…
…you have to know that something is horribly, perhaps irretrievably, wrong. In Texas, children are no longer to be educated. They’re to be indoctrinated, taught to be good Republicans and obedient Christians. They’re to be steeped in Right-wing ideology…and that silly “separation of Church and State” notion? Well, you can kiss that goodbye…because if there’s one thing we should be certain of in this country, it’s that Right (and White) make right.
If Thomas Jefferson has no place in Texas textbooks… and if students aren’t taught that the Constitution DOESN’T exalt Christianity above all other religions, then Jesus-y revisionist history has truly carried the day…and we will all be poorer for it.
Apparently, the old Soviet Union isn’t the only political entity capable of revising history to neatly fit their historical and ideological narrative. Josef Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev have nothing on the Texas State Board of Edumication. How long before the Bible is taught in Texas schools as a legitimate historical text?? If you’re laughing, you shouldn’t be. The majority bloc of SBOE troglodytes are serious; this is EXACTLY the direction they’re heading…and they’re patient and dedicated enough to make it happen.
For those of us outside of Texas, this should be more than a laughing matter…not that there’s anything particularly funny about this. Texas, being one of the largest textbook markets in the country, has an outsized influence on what material textbooks contain. Publishers, believing as they do in economies of scale, are prone to giving their largest markets what they want and then selling that to everyone. If children in Texas are being taught that Jesus crossed the Delaware on the shoulders of angels, it stands to reason that children in Minnesota and New Hampshire may well be reading the same lesson material. This is a debate that will at some point, probably sooner than y’all might think, impact all Americans and the education their children receive.
[W]hen it comes to textbooks, what happens in Texas rarely stays in Texas.
Onward, Christian soldiers…for we could well be witnessing the beginning of the programming of an entire generation of obedient Right-wing Christian foot soliders. You may think this extreme, but if you have anything more than a passing familiarity with the Texas State Board of Edumication, you know that this is no mere fantasy. When neoConservative propaganda is taught as historical fact, and when Christian doctrine is taught as the One, True, and ONLY faith…well, can a generation of brown-shirted, goose-stepping, reflexive Christian ideologues be far behind?
There is certainly nothing wrong with the idea of teaching children that our Founding Fathers were deeply religious men motivated by and committed to their faith in God. The problem comes in when schools are required to teach students the primacy of that doctrine and elevate it above all other religions. When schools cross the Rubicon to the teaching of religious doctrine and dogma as immutable historical fact, then we’ve set this country to heading down a very dangerous and destructive path. And I can’t help but fear for the future of the country I love.
This in a country found by people fleeing religious persecution and oppression….
If I was the parent of school-age children, I’d be giving some serious thought to home-schooling. The only problem with that idea is that most textbooks designed for home-schooled students are written from a blatantly Right-wing Christian viewpoint.
Remember, when Liberal Humanists do it, it’s the worst, most egregious sort of brainwashing and indoctrination. When Right-wing Christians do it, it’s opening the minds of the next generation to the wisdom and love of Jesus Christ and the beauty and primacy of Conservatism. Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war….
(On a lighter note…check out this fine product of Texas’ public edumication system….)