OneNewNow (“the day’s stories from a biblical perspective”) once again features David Barton, the prominent right-wing political activist who pretends to be an accomplished historian, in a story about social studies curriculum standards in Texas public schools. You can read the whole thing for yourself, but a few passages stuck out for us.
First, Barton praises the new standards — adopted last month by the State Board of Education — for focusing on the concept of “American exceptionalism.”
“There is a reason that we’re the only nation in the world that does not average a revolution every 30 to 40 years; there’s a reason that we have four percent of the world’s population [and] 25 percent of the world’s wealth.”
Really, David? We think there are a lot of things that make America an exceptional nation, and we think students should learn about them. But is the lack of political revolutions unique to America?
Britain, France and many other Western European countries certainly haven’t been struggling through revolutions in recent decades. It’s been centuries (1688, in fact) since the so-called “Glorious Revolution” overthrew King James II of England, for example. And we could name many other countries that haven’t seen a revolution in quite a long time. The United States is hardly the only one.
Barton also praises requirements that students memorize key passages of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. Not everyone likes that requirement, he claims in the OneNewsNow piece:
“…These standards really are a throwback, and this is pretty scary to a lot of people who want to see America change fundamentally in a new direction.”
And who would that be? Can he identify any of the supposed evil-doers who don’t want students to learn about the nation’s founding documents? Of course not.
We would, however, prefer that students learn the truth about what is in those great documents. To that point: the article ends by noting that the new standards include a requirement that students “compare and contrast” the phrase “separation of church and state” with the Founders’ intent to protect religious freedom — as if separation of church and state isn’t a key constitutional principle protecting religious freedom. Most constitutional scholars, numerous Supreme Court decisions and 68 percent of Texans agree that it is, but politicians on the State Board of Education say otherwise — and they decide what will be in the standards.