Lowe appointed David Barton — head of WallBuilders, a far-right organization that opposes separation of church and state — to a panel of s0-called “experts” helping guide the revision of social studies curriculum standards. Barton has already joined with a fellow “expert” on the panel, far-right evangelical minister Peter Marshall, in calling for the removal of progressive historical figures like César Chavez and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall from the standards. (Never mind that Barton and Peter Marshall are absurdly unqualified to be considered social studies “experts.”)
In a story on Friday about her appointment as board chair, Lowe had this to say to a KERA radio reporter in Dallas about Chavez and Justice Marshall:
“Certainly those are historical figures that students should be aware of, and their goals and their place in history, but it needs to be in the context of what those people were known for. And so if the example is someone of good civic involvement, then there may be a different type of historical figure and leader that would be more appropriate.” (This is Lowe’s actual quote. The written version of the quote on the KERA Web page is incomplete.)
Now think about Lowe’s comment for a minute. She is suggesting that Chavez and Marshall are not appropriate examples of “good civic involvement”? Good grief. Chavez and Marshall built their careers on and are revered for working to tear down barriers to civic and democratic involvement by people who had long been shut out of the corridors of influence and power. We are not suggesting that they are the only appropriate examples of “good civic involvement.” But the two are surely among the most important modern historical examples.
Moreover, Barton and weren’t simply suggesting that Chavez and Marshall aren’t appropriate examples in the context of where they appeared in the standards. Recall what Marshall said about Chavez:
“Chavez is hardly the kind of role model that ought to be held up to our children as someone worthy of emulation.”
Marshall isn’t calling for Chavez to be put somewhere else. He’s calling for his removal, period. He and Barton simply don’t like the political views Chavez had or the work that he did.
This is just the first of what are likely to be many steps down a perilous path toward politicizing the social studies education of Texas schoolchildren. Lowe knows that. In fact, she is helping facilitate it. And her appointment as chair is very troubling.