Bradley: Education Is a ‘Religious Conflict’

by Dan Quinn

So says Texas State Board of Education member David Bradley. Speaking on the Internet radio program WallBuilders Live! today, the Republican from Beaumont Buna in Southeast Texas told hosts David Barton and Rick Green that “conservatives” hold only a slim majority on the state board:

“The pendulum in politics swings both ways and for the first time in many many decades we have been able to carry the debate. And it’s a value system, and it goes down to the core. It is a cultural war, and it is a religious conflict.”

Well, at least he admits it.

Today’s program with Bradley is part of the show’s planned three-part series this week on the state board’s revision of social studies curriculum standards. Tomorrow board member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, will be a guest on the show. So far the Wednesday show appears to be just Barton and Green talking some more about the standards.

Of course, Barton said plenty about the social studies process today, too. He charged that “elitest groups” — especially “secular elitest groups” — are trying to influence the Texas curriculum to keep children from learning the truth: that American government is and should be controlled by the people:

“It’s we the people that run the government, not vice versa. Well, we’ve kind of lost that in the last 30 to 40 years, and now we the government is running everything for the people. We’ll tell you about your health care, we’ll tell you about how you can exhale because that’s a dangerous gas you’re releasing into the environment and you’re jeopardizing the entire planet by breaking out carbon dioxide so we’re going to regulate your breathing. It’s just wacky.”

“Regulate your breathing”? Really, David? Well, maybe government will get around to that once it’s done executing sick old folks and disabled children, right?

Barton also praised the state board for making what he considers the right decisions about curriculum standards since the far right finally took control of the board a few years ago:

“We walked in 15 years ago and said let’s get the right people get elected to office.”

Well, at least that’s partly true. The far right, backed by generous funding from donors like San Antonio businessman James Leininger, began its takeover of the state board with the election of one member in 1992. The faction of board extremists finally took control of the board after the 2006 elections. Gov. Rick Perry has since appointed two of the faction’s members as board chairs since then.

But is it too much to expect that Barton not blatantly lie even to his far-right listeners? Could he at least show them a little respect? Toward the end of the show, Barton claimed that the Texas Freedom Network (a “wacky left group”) and the “liberal media” were not telling the truth about social studies debate. In particular, he distorted the controversy over the removal of Thomas Jefferson from the world history standards, blaming teachers for the problem. (Of course he blamed teachers. The far right has shown little but contempt for classroom teachers and their expertise as the board overhauls curriculum standards for all public school classes.)

Barton claimed (inaccurately) that teachers on the curriculum teams had mistakenly listed Jefferson as one of a number of European philosophers who influenced America. He said board members had simply corrected the error:

“You correct some of the wacky things that the teachers said, and these groups put out press releases saying ‘oh they removed Jefferson out of the standards.'”

Well, no, that’s not what happened, David, and you know it. (Or you should know it. After all, the board absurdly appointed you as one of its “expert” advisers for the standards revision.) The world history standard identified Jefferson (who believed that a “wall of separation between church and state” is essential to freedom) as one of the Enlightenment thinkers who influenced political revolutions around the world from 1750 to the present. The board removed both Jefferson and the reference to the Enlightenment from the standard, inserting in Jefferson’s place John Calvin and Thomas Aquinas.

Do you think Barton will inform his listeners that he didn’t tell them the truth? Well, you know the answer to that — don’t you?