Education

With a public school enrollment of more than 5 million, Texas has an increasingly diverse public education system. Unfortunately, that public education system is also the target of politicians seeking to privatize our neighborhood public schools and push a culture-war agenda in the classroom.

To that end, the Texas Freedom Network – while continuing to fight private school voucher legislation at the Capitol – has conducted groundbreaking research into what is being taught in classrooms on subjects like sex education and religion.

Resources

Broken Promises: Charter Schools in Texas (2000 report)

Broken Promises II (2001 report)

 

The State Board of Education: Dragging Texas Schools into the Culture Wars (2008 report)

 

Just Say Don’t Know: Sex Education in Texas Public Schools (2009 report)

Sex Education in Public Schools: Progress in the Lone Star State (2011 report)

Reading Writing & Religion: Teaching the Bible in Texas Public Schools (2006 report)

Reading, Writing & Religion II (2013 report)

Can This Class Be Saved? The ‘Hobby Lobby’ Public School Bible Curriculum (2014 report)

 

Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That landmark legislation bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Its enactment came after decades of struggle by civil rights advocates in the face of virulent opposition — opposition that often resorted to brutality and even murder.

President Johnson didn’t sweep away bigotry and discrimination with the simple stroke of his pen on July 2, 1964. But his signature marked a key moment when the United States truly began to fulfill the promise of equality for all under the law.

Right-wing politicians and activists have spent decades trying to rewrite the history of the struggle for civil and equal rights in this country. One of those political activists — as we explain here and here — has been David Barton, the right’s favorite phony historian and head of Texas-based WallBuilders, which argues that separation of church and state is a myth. Barton has argued that conservatives — Republicans, in particular — were the real champions of civil rights.

It is absolutely true that white southern Democratic senators successfully led efforts to kill civil rights legislation for decades. But Barton ignores the… Read More

Our friend Edd Doerr, president of Americans for Religious Liberty, has graciously granted permission for us to publish his review of Teachers versus the Public: What Americans Think about Schools and How to Fix Them, a new publication from Brookings Institute Press. The publication, authored by Paul E. Peterson, Michael Henderson and Martin R. West, purportedly offers “a comprehensive exploration of 21st Century school politics.” Doerr’s review also will appear in  the summer issue of Voice of Reason, which is the newsletter for Americans for Religious Liberty. Doerr’s review follows below:

From start to finish this book is a brazen, virulent, deceptive, unreality-based, shameless, slashing attack on American public schools, teachers, and teacher unions. The authors, henceforth PH&W, offer no ideas whatever for improving public schools, demonstrate no comprehension of what education is all about, and make it clear that they strongly favor privatizing public education and diverting public funds to private schools through vouchers, tax credits (neo-vouchers), charters, and cyber schooling. But let’s be specific.

Through their own polls they claim that most Americans favor vouchers or tax credits for public funding of private schools. They carefully avoid discussing the 27… Read More

In an earlier Can This Class Be Saved? post we discussed a speech by Steve Green from April 2013 in which the president of Hobby Lobby discusses his Museum of the Bible public school Bible curriculum that has been approved for a trial run in Mustang, Oklahoma, and what Green’s comments say about his intentions in backing that curriculum’s creation.

Now, in this portion of the speech, Green makes a claim about the Bible that will cause many to scratch their head. In it, Green implies that the Bible is the primary source for all good, but he ignores ways in which the Bible has been misused.

Here’s what Southern Methodist University religious studies professor Mark Chancey, who authored the TFN Education Fund’s new report on the Steve Green-backed curriculum, had to say:

The curriculum implies that the Bible is the primary source for positive developments in Western culture, generally ignoring the ways in which the Bible has been used to justify various forms of oppression.

Green’s own comments to the National Bible Association again appear to have guided the curriculum’s direction: “In every area of our life, this book has impacted our world… Our job … is… Read More

How inappropriate for public schools is the new Bible course curriculum from Museum of the Bible, a nonprofit created by Hobby Lobby President Steve Green? As Mark Chancey, a biblical scholar at Southern Methodist University, points out in his review of The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact, the curriculum echoes Green’s belief in the Bible’s complete literal and historical accuracy. From Prof. Chancey’s review:

The curriculum … follows Green’s lead by strongly affirming the Bible’s complete accuracy. For example, it presents Adam, Eve, and all other biblical characters unambiguously as historical personages. It frames stories of God’s interactions with various characters in such a way as to suggest that those passages, too, reflect historical events. (“Was Moses mentally unstable? No. His titanic swings of emotion and behavior sprang from his special call to stand in the gap between God and the people.”) “Travel through Time” sections found throughout the book encourage students to read biblical passages not only as reflections of the ancient cultures that produced them, but also as accurate historical accounts. The book also unquestioningly affirms traditional claims about the authorship of biblical books (i.e., Mosaic authorship of the Torah) without alerting students to the fact that much of the… Read More

Christian Creationists believe the Bible’s Genesis story of creation — that God created life, Earth and the rest of the universe in six days — is literally true. That certainly is not the belief of all or even most Christians (or Jews). Even so, SMU biblical scholar Mark Chancey points out that the new Bible curriculum from Museum of the Bible, a nonprofit created by Hobby Lobby President Steve Green, would teach public school students that science actually backs up the Genesis creation story.

From Chancey’s review of The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact:

At one point, Albert Einstein makes a surprising appearance to shore up a biblical story’s seeming inconsistency. To reconcile Genesis’s description of the creation of light on the first day of creation with the fact that the sun is not created until day four, the book appeals to the Theory of Relativity: Because “energy and mass are equivalent and transmutable” and “all matter is also energy,” then “could it be that creation begins with the advent of energy?” Such reasoning, it suggests, “seems to correlate nicely with the Big Bang Theory of creation, a mighty explosion releasing tremendous amounts of energy.” The section closes by asking, “Could it… Read More