Don’s Rewriting History … Again

by Jose Medina

Former Texas State Board of Education chair Don McLeroy isn’t done distorting history.

While McLeroy was on the board in 2010, he and his colleagues gave Texas schools new social studies curriculum standards that downplay the primary role slavery played in the Civil War. Now, as a former SBOE member, he’s rewriting the role he and other board members played in writing those pretty much universally panned standards on which history textbooks for millions of Texas schoolchildren are based.

Here was McLeroy this week, appearing alongside TFN President Kathy Miller, on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show.” McLeroy defended the standards (as well as the ridiculous revision and approval process for those standards) and said some things that weren’t very accurate. Watch the clip in its entirety and we’ll have more below the fold.

On the causes of the Civil War, McLeroy says the board “never really discussed that very much.” He actually makes that claim twice in the “Ed Show” clip. Coincidentally, that’s how many times the board discussed (at length) the causes of the Civil War in just one day — May 20, 2010.

Thankfully, there’s video of that day. At just after the 9:30 mark of this clip, SBOE member Pat Hardy, R-Weatherford, says this:

“Yes, this is historically correct. Sectionalism, states’ rights were the real issues behind the Civl War. Slavery was an after-issue. It was part of the reason for the sectionalism and the states’ rights deciding whether or not they could have slaves moving to the other states, etc. But the real issue that the South broke away was because they wanted to have the right to say that they could do that and that sectionalism was the idea of moving slaves to other sections of the territories. So those were the real reasons for the Civl War. That’s why they would have those first. Slavery came about as a side issue to the Civil War. And, so it’s not the reason for the Civil War. It was not slavery.”

And in this clip from the same day (at the 4:21:00 mark), board member Lawrence Allen, D-Houston, moves to change a standard in the eighth-grade U.S. history course to emphasize slavery as the cause of the war. Following debate, Allen’s motion is promptly voted down.

So to say the board never really discussed it is just plain wrong. To say that everything is fine and dandy with how the standards portray the causes of the Civil War is also wrong, and even some conservatives feel the same way.

This is just the latest stop in the Don McLeroy hand-washing tour, in which he tries to dodge responsibility for what happened at the board he served on and even led for a time. The truth is that McLeroy was part of a determined effort to rewrite American history, including the history of the Civil War, to fit a false, right-wing political narrative.