Efforts to politicize our kids’ social studies classrooms got a hand from FOX News on Wednesday.
FOX aired a piece on the growing controversy over revising social studies curriculum standards in Texas. Publishers, of course, will use the revised standards to write new history, government, geography and other social studies textbooks. The two commentators on FOX accurately discussed the huge influence of Texas on the national textbook market — but then things went downhill fast.
First, FOX host Steve Doocy described the panel of so-called “experts” helping guide the revision of the social studies curriculum standards as split between three conservatives and three liberals. Actually, the three academics from Texas on that panel haven’t discussed their political beliefs. We frankly don’t know whether they’re liberals or conservatives, and it’s doubtful Mr. Doocy knows either. In fact, Gov. Rick Perry chose one — Jesús Francisco de la Teja from Texas State University — to serve as the state historian of Texas for two years until this past May. Of course, that appointment doesn’t suggest de la Teja is either conservative or liberal. But it does suggest that a conservative governor was impressed enough with his academic credentials to name him to that post.
On the other hand, the “experts” appointed by the State Board of Education’s far-right bloc can’t seem to stop talking about their political beliefs. In reality, the split on the panel is between three mainstream academics and three ideologues. And two of the latter are absurdly unqualified to be considered “experts.” In fact, neither has an advanced degree in the social sciences. The “qualifications” they brought to the panel were their political beliefs, not their pitiful academic credentials. How about discussing whether it’s appropriate to have unqualified people with a political agenda guiding a curriculum revision? No, we guess that wouldn’t work well for FOX’s audience.
Next, conservative commentator Tucker Carlson trotted out complete nonsense about how history textbooks typically treat Christianity:
“Christianity is downplayed as a progressive force, almost always painted in a negative light, other world’s religions elevated to a higher place than Christianity.”
Does he honestly think school districts in Texas would adopt textbooks that portray Christianity negatively? Really? Anybody with an ounce of sense knows that would be political suicide, especially in Texas. Carlson was simply playing to the sense of victimization cultivated by far-right evangelicals who think everybody but them is a radical leftist who hates Christians.
Then Carlson claimed that textbooks fail to tell students what religion was practiced by the hijackers in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Oh, come on. He can’t be serious, but he tries to sound like it:
“It’s not explained why they did this. It’s not explained that they were radical Islamic fundamentalists. They just kind of somehow flew into these buildings. This is one of the blatant errors in fact that this debate may solve.”
Carlson is simply making things up. But he goes on to charge that “liberals” in the Texas textbook debate want to see less emphasis on the Cold War. What a pile of horse manure. We have seen no such proposal from anyone, liberal or otherwise.
Then this from Carlson:
“Conservatives in this debate would like to see greater reliance on primary texts.”
Well, who doesn’t think that primary documents are important to understanding history? Anybody?
Doocy, the show’s host, noted that Carlson is preparing a longer “documentary” on the “trouble with textbooks” in America today. If Wednesday’s show was any indication, that piece certainly won’t be a documentary. It will be a propaganda tool designed to support extremists who want to dumb down and politicize our kids’ classrooms.