Texas State Board of Education Chairwoman Gail Lowe has some peculiar views when it comes to teaching students about good citizenship. In her view, labor leader César Chavez and civil rights champion and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall aren’t good role models for that.
Right-wing critics want to censor discussion of Chavez and Marshall in public school social studies classrooms, claiming that they lack sufficient stature and are poor role models for students. In a new interview with the Associated Press, Lowe presses the far right’s case against the two:
Marshall and Chavez are “not particularly known for their citizenship,” Lowe said. “Figures we use to represent those character ideals (citizenship, patriotism and community involvement) and the type of persons we want your students to emulate should be politically neutral.”
Neutral about what? Racial segregation in public schools? Voting rights? The right of people to organize and campaign for better working and living conditions? The heroes of the American Revolution weren’t “neutral” about people organizing and fighting against tyranny. Abraham Lincoln wasn’t “neutral” about the inhumanity and injustice of slavery. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott weren’t “neutral” on the civil and political rights of women. Are none of them appropriate role models for “good citizenship”? Is Ms. Lowe herself “neutral” on any of these issues? Is anyone?
The Associated Press article doesn’t include any examples of “good citizens” Lowe has for inclusion in the public school social studies curriculum standards, which the state board is currently revising. So we’ll wait to find out whether those individuals would be considered “neutral” on issues like racial and voting discrimination and the rights of citizens to organize and fully participate in our government and society.
One thing should be clear now to everyone, however. Lowe’s appointment as chair of the state board is no improvement over the chairmanship of Don McLeroy. The education of Texas schoolchildren will still be held hostage by far-right ideologues with personal and political axes to grind.