March 17, 2010

How the Texas Board of Education is Rewriting History- Literally

As you may or may not know, the Texas Board of Education is highly influential when it comes to what ends up in our nation's text books.

These recent proposed revisions to history, however, seem more like efforts from the Taliban than a thriving Democratic Republic.

From YahooNews:

- A greater emphasis on “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s.” This means not only increased favorable mentions of Schlafly, the founder of the antifeminist Eagle Forum, but also more discussion of the Moral Majority, the Heritage Foundation, the National Rifle Association and Newt Gingrich's Contract With America.

- A reduced scope for Latino history and culture. A proposal to expand such material in recognition of Texas’ rapidly growing Hispanic population was defeated in last week’s meetings—provoking one board member, Mary Helen Berlanga, to storm out in protest. "They can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist," she said of her conservative colleagues on the board. "They are rewriting history, not only of Texas but of the United States and the world."

- Changes in specific terminology. Terms that the board’s conservative majority felt were ideologically loaded are being retired. Hence, “imperialism” as a characterization of America’s modern rise to world power is giving way to “expansionism,” and “capitalism” is being dropped in economic material, in favor of the more positive expression “free market.” (The new recommendations stress the need for favorable depictions of America’s economic superiority across the board.)


- A more positive portrayal of Cold War anticommunism. Disgraced anticommunist crusader Joseph McCarthy, the Wisconsin senator censured by the Senate for his aggressive targeting of individual citizens and their civil liberties on the basis of their purported ties to the Communist Party, comes in for partial rehabilitation. The board recommends that textbooks refer to documents published since McCarthy’s death and the fall of the Soviet bloc that appear to show expansive Soviet designs to undermine the U.S. government.

- Language that qualifies the legacy of 1960s liberalism. Great Society programs such as Title IX—which provides for equal gender access to educational resources—and affirmative action, intended to remedy historic workplace discrimination against African-Americans, are said to have created adverse “unintended consequences” in the curriculum’s preferred language.


- Thomas Jefferson no longer included among writers influencing the nation’s intellectual origins. Jefferson, a deist who helped pioneer the legal theory of the separation of church and state, is not a model founder in the board’s judgment. Among the intellectual forerunners to be highlighted in Jefferson’s place: medieval Catholic philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas, Puritan theologian John Calvin and conservative British law scholar William Blackstone. Heavy emphasis is also to be placed on the founding fathers having been guided by strict Christian beliefs.

- Excision of recent third-party presidential candidates Ralph Nader (from the left) and Ross Perot (from the centrist Reform Party). Meanwhile, the recommendations include an entry listing Confederate General Stonewall Jackson as a role model for effective leadership, and a statement from Confederate President Jefferson Davis accompanying a speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.

- A recommendation to include country and western music among the nation’s important cultural movements. The popular black genre of hip-hop is being dropped from the same list.


So unless we can change the influence of the Texas Board of Education, these ignorant assholes in Texas are going to be deciding what the next generation think history is.

And there will be an entire generation of kids growing up not knowing who Ross Perot, Ralph Nader, and Thomas Jefferson are, and Joseph McCarthy will be celebrated as a hero.

Texas Board of Education, fuck you.