Rewriting history in Texas

Remember how I told you that Republicans in Texas were attempting to make a few “minor” changes to their state’s K-12 history textbooks, like removing any mention of that little “separation of church and state” thing? Well, it looks like they’ve made some tremendous headway in the last few days. Since we last discussed it, the Texas Education Board, in a 10-5 vote along party lines, moved to significantly change the state’s social studies curriculum, beginning in the 2011-12 school year. Following are some of the changes, as outlined by Bruce Maiman of the National Examiner… According to Maiman, the new texts will:

• Question the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government

• Cover the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation’s Founding Fathers, but not highlight the philosophical rationale for the separation of church and state

• Present Republican political philosophies and figures in a more positive light, including Joe McCarthy

• Stress the superiority of American capitalism while eliminating the word “capitalism” from the text

• Refer to the United States form of government as a “constitutional republic,” rather than “democratic republic”

• Give Confederate president Jefferson Davis equal footing with Abraham Lincoln

• 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 and John Calvin (Jefferson is not well liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state”)

And, as the folks at the Raw Story point out, given the size of the Texas market, these changes will likely ripple through a great many states… Here’s a clip:

…For the next ten years, millions of students in Texas and across the country will read history textbooks suggesting that the actions of witch-hunt instigator Joseph McCarthy were justified. They will read about religious icon John Calvin instead of Thomas Jefferson. They will read a description of the US government that includes the words “constitutional republic” but not the word “democratic.”

These are just a few of the changes an ultra right-wing Texas Education Board has tentatively approved for the state’s history curriculum. There is one more stage for approval, but the board voted yes to the changes in a 10-5 vote. That’s 10 Republicans voting yes and 5 Democrats voting no, making the chances for reevaluation almost negligible.

Once fully approved, it will be a decade before the board reviews the curriculum again.

“I am very distressed,” said Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi, who sponsored an unsuccessful amendment to mention that Tejanos were among the fallen heroes of the Alamo.

Most of the board’s members make no secret of their intent to instill their own religious and political ideologies into public schools, and the consequences of their activism have far-reaching consequences.

Texas buys so many of the country’s textbooks that publishers tailor their books to match its standards as closely as possible. As a Washington Monthly article stated, “When it comes to textbooks, what happens in Texas, rarely stays in Texas.”

In other words, students in Rhode Island and Texas could be reading about the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation’s Founding Fathers at the same time. But they won’t be reading about the rationale for a separation of church and state. That’s gone, too…

And that, my friends, is how the great American experiment comes to an end.

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13 Comments

  1. Posted March 14, 2010 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    I love how they’re going out of their way not to use the word “democracy” because they think it reflects too positively on us Democrats… That, to me, is something of a red flag. Anyone that wants to write the history of our country without using the word “democracy” probably isn’t up to the job.

  2. dragon
    Posted March 14, 2010 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Freedumb’s just another word for nothing left to learn.

  3. Lacy
    Posted March 14, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    And here I was beginning to think Republicans didn’t care about public eduction! A ray of hope!

    Before getting too gloom and doom, remember that digital printing now allows for much greater customization to particular state standards than some of these articles suggest. This very well could stay in Texas.

    And, more importantly, textbooks are filtered through teachers. A good teacher can simply ask, “What’s the difference between a ‘democratic republic’ and a ‘constitutional republic’?” or “Why don’t they mention any Tejonos names?” and the state board is quickly undone.

  4. EOS
    Posted March 15, 2010 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    Lacy –

    A democracy is majority rule and is destructive of personal liberty because there is no law preventing the majority from trampling on individual rights. Whatever the majority says goes. A lynch mob is an example of pure democracy in action. There is only one dissenting vote and that is cast by the person at the end of the rope.

    Our founding fathers created a government that was large enough to secure our God-given rights, but not large enough to violate those rights. In the absence of government, anarchy reigns, and no one’s rights are secure. On the other end of the spectrum, total government does not secure an individuals rights. Such a government might grant its citizens privileges, but it could also take away those privileges on a whim. Whenever government has total power, individuals have none.

    Our founding Fathers wisely gave us a constitutional republic. It is a government of law under a constitution. The constitution holds the government in check and prevents the majority (acting through their government) from violating the rights of the individual. We will either be governed by law or ruled by men. Because of man’s nature, rule by men has always ended in tyranny. Only under a government constrained by a written constitution will our God-given rights be secure.

    Not only did our founding fathers establish a republic, they greatly feared democracy. The United States Constitution does not contain the word democracy. It does guarantee to every State in the Union a republican form of government. The Federal government operates under the specific powers delegated to it by the United States Constitution, while each of the state governments operates under a state constitution. Our founding fathers made a very marked distinction between a democracy and a republic and said repeatedly and emphatically that they had founded a republic.

    The U.S. Congress is not authorized to make any law it chooses – it is bound by the Constitution. The Constitution does not authorize the Federal government to provide foreign aid handouts, unemployment benefits, subsidized housing, food stamps, agricultural price supports, redistribution of wealth schemes, public education, economic bailouts of private enterprises or universal health care. Tragically, much of the legislation that Congress passes is unconstitutional and has been for the past 70 years. And sadly, because of the liberal ideology that permeates our public education system, many believe that a correct interpretation of American history is a form of radical right wing extremism.

  5. Mr. X
    Posted March 15, 2010 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    I say that all of us sane people in the remaining 49 states pull our resources and have a special history book on Texas printed, which showcases all of the state’s more shameful contributions to American history, from LBJ lifting his dogs by the ears, to little George Bush, the President who allowed the 911 attacks to occur.

  6. Edward
    Posted March 15, 2010 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    If we were to make an official History of Texas book, I’d want to include a disk with the Revolting Cocks song “Beers, Steers and Queers.” No definitive history of Texas could be without it.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=439135250279259718#

  7. Steph
    Posted March 15, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    If that story doesn’t make you hate the US, check out this one about a woman in New Jersey setting out to be the fattest person on the planet.

    http://news.ninemsn.com.au/world/1027360/woman-aims-to-become-worlds-fattest

    End times, indeed.

  8. Peter Larson
    Posted March 15, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    I post this for EOS, merely as food for thought, not for argument. I agree that an uninsured mother, partnered or not, is much more likely to get an abortion, than carry the child to term.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/12/AR2010031202287.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

    I will point out that he is both right and wrong about Japan. Most Japanese health plans do not have maternity coverage, yet fewer women there get abortions than in the US. However, the costs of birthing a child in Japan is only about $1000, whereas my son cost the federal government $13,500 in 1990. Japanese people have universal coverage, true, but even for the things they are not covered for, these costs can be paid out of pocket. Strict price controls keep health care affordable for all, businesses, insurers and individuals alike. I am sure that this keeps many women from having abortions.

    Back to work.

  9. Peter Larson
    Posted March 15, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    What a stupid post. I’m sorry, Mark. I won’t do it again.

  10. Posted March 15, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Pete. Acknowledging your problem, from what I’m told, is the fist step to recovery.

  11. Posted March 15, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    And I happen to love the idea of a text book about Texas… Maybe, on the cover, we could put a picture of that guy who flew his plane into the IRS. I think he kind of captures the essence of modern Texas.

  12. Genericreg
    Posted March 16, 2010 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Forget a separate book, how about we go back to the 1860’s and let them have their own country. SXSW just isn’t worth the hassle of the rest of the state.

  13. Posted March 16, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    “And that, my friends, is how the great American experiment comes to an end.”

    Or perhaps just one step closer to this:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123051100709638419.html

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