A Teacher Responds to Criticism from the Right

In May we reported that a member of a social studies curriculum writing team was complaining about an “overrepresentation of minorities” in the curriculum standards. That member, Bill Ames, is a political activist appointed by Don McLeroy, who at the time was chairman of the Texas State Board of Education. Now a teacher, Kimberly Griffith, who is also a member of one of the social studies writing teams, weighs in on Mr. Ames’ comments in a response  in the same thread. Our original post and the comments from Mr. Ames and Ms. Griffith are available here.

We are noting the exchange between Mr. Ames and Ms. Griffith because it has become clear — based also on comments made by state board members and by so-called “experts” appointed by those board members — that what our public schools teach about the contributions of minorities in American history will be a key topic of debate in the revision of the social studies curriculum. Frankly, we are seeing an irresponsible and deceptive campaign by social conservatives on and off the state board to persuade the general public that “radicals” are somehow using “political correctness” and “multiculturalism” to water down the social studies curriculum and undermine patriotism.

Three cheers for Ms. Griffith and other hard-working teachers in this state who are trying to do their jobs despite the far right’s efforts to politicize their classrooms.

8 thoughts on “A Teacher Responds to Criticism from the Right

  1. TFN said: “Frankly, we are seeing an irresponsible and deceptive campaign by social conservatives on and off the state board to persuade the general public that “radicals” are somehow using “political correctness” and “multiculturalism” to water down the social studies curriculum and undermine patriotism.”

    A tip of the hat to Ms. Griffith.

    A) First of all, the Christian Neo-Fundamentalist right defines any person as being a “radical” if (1) you disgree with their stupid politics; (2) disagree with their theology; or (3) commit the unspeakable sin of loving your neighbor as yourself,
    especially if that neighbor is not the “politically correct” color).

    B) In the old days, what they call “political correctness” now was part of a thing nice folks did as part of something called “Do unto others as you would have the do unto you.” How would you like it if some radical righter referred to your child in a wheel chair as a “no good for nothing crippled retard.” Would you want someone to talk about your child using language like that? I doubt it. The radical right does not spend nearly enough time in the New Testament.

    C) I have been watching the News Hour on PBS since the beginning of the Iraq War, which would be about 7 years now. They have an end segment where they show a picture, name, rank, and hometown of men and women who were killed in the line of duty during that war and the Afghanistan War. The number of Latino guys and gals that show up there is amazing. It’s a lot—a whole lot. I wonder what they and their families would say about being labeled as part of the radical right’s new “multiculturalism.”

    D) Apart from the obvious racism, Christian fundamentalism and its illigitimate step-child Christian Neo-Fundamentalism have always had a theological obsession with something they call “…rebellion against God.” It so colors their worldview that they begin to eventually perceive of any and every kind of rebellion as sin. Therefore, if you are an oppressed ethnic person who complains about the unfairness of the existing political or social system, that does not make you a role model or a historical figure. It makes you a sinful troublemaker in enmity with the Lord—a person undeserving of a place in a public school textbook. Of course, by this same stupid worldview, Moses and Aaron were reprehensible Jewish reprobates for opposing the ancient Egyptian slave system. They never think about that—mostly because they do not think at all—not really. They also do not think about the fact that each of us have a scheduled opportunity for such rebellion every four years. They never complain about the sinfulness of that—except when it goes against them.

  2. Mr. Ames should read A People’s History of The United States by Howard Zinn.

    (Oh, but that would assume Mr. Ames is interested in learning.)

  3. Charles, my answer to your question is: Yes.

    As far as the health care reform debate goes, everyone should check out Bill Moyer’s show from July 10, in which Mr Moyers has a conversation with Wendell Potter, a former executive at Cigna Health. Mr Potter has very interesting stuff to say about for-profit “health care.” Stuff we all know either factually or intuitively – but still shocking stuff. There will be no reform at all in health care as long as there is so much rich and powerful moneyed interests working against it. Count on it!

  4. History should be looked at as we view our constitution… a document that can be added to or amended.
    While past history has ostensibly produced outstanding heroes…persons who played important roles in improving our Democracy no one should deny they should be honored and revered. But as times change, new laws are created to fit the change. To say that our modern-day heroes or change agents such as Farmworker leader Cesar Chavez or Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall do not belong in the History books is inane. And it all stems from having the majority of State Board Members select persons who are living in the past and have little regard to why it it is necessary to rewrite our Texas History books every ten years.

  5. “To say that our modern-day heroes or change agents such as Farmworker leader Cesar Chavez or Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall do not belong in the History books is inane.”

    Insane, too! I’m glad I live in a state (New Jersey) where local school boards control their schools and makes decisions on textbooks — without telling them what to write!

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