State Board of Education member Don McLeroy, R-Bryan, is clearly not going to let the Senate’s decision to strip him of his chairmanship relegate him to the back-bench for the debate on social studies standards. This week McLeroy came out swinging on the question of religion’s role in U.S. history. Responding to an open letter to the state board by the American Humanist Association, McLeroy sent the group an essay he wrote way back in 2002 (when social studies textbook were last up for adoption) entitled “The Gift of Medieval Christendom to the World.” (Hat tip: Kate Alexander at the Austin American Statesman.) Some excerpts:
What is it about the development of the West that made it so remarkable and unique? Why in the West are all people important? What is the ultimate source of these ideals of freedom, equality and limited government?
I believe the best and really only answer to all the above questions is the gradual assimilation of Judeo-Christianity in the West. By arguing that humankind is “made in the image of God”, medieval thinkers developed the idea of the dignity of the individual, not something arbitrary– man-given, but a reality, inherent in every person — God-given.
This leads McLeroy — in his scholarly opinion as a historian philosopher anthropologist dentist — to the following conclusion:
Freedom is unique to the areas of the world that have been touched by Christianity.
And since McLeroy knows that correlation does not equal causation, he offers his take on why this is so:
I argue that the development of medieval political structures with their limiting of the power of the governments and the resulting freedom for commerce, and the freeing or releasing of human energy coincides with the assimilation of the ideas of the dignity of the human being—“created in the image of God”. This was a gift of the spread of Christianity in Europe, or as many call it “Christendom”.
McLeroy also directed the Humanist Association to his recent appearance on Fox News. Watch McLeroy banter with the Fox News host and explain his puzzling assertion that the U.S. Constitution “recognizes man as a sinner” after the jump.
Remember, this is the same board member who earlier this year went toe-to-toe with some of the world’s leading biologists and argued that they misunderstood their own areas of expertise. (Leading to McLeroy’s now infamous exclamation: “Somebody’s gotta stand up to the experts!”) I guess we can expect more of the same later this fall when real experts in American history appear before the state board.
Speaking of the social studies standards…
Yesterday, the Texas Education Agency released the initial draft of the new social studies standards prepared by the teacher writing teams. Though TFN has not completed a thorough review of the draft, we are pleased to report that — for the most part — the writing teams strongly pushed back against attempts by the board-appointed “experts” to politicize the standards. It is important to remember, however, that previous curriculum revisions for science and English/language arts have also followed this pattern — thoughtful, academically-sound drafts by teacher writings teams that were later mucked-up by the state board. This debate is really just beginning.
We promise a full breakdown of the writing team draft early next week, so stay tuned to TFN Insider. In the meantime, you can view the draft of the social studies standards prepared by the writing teams on the Texas Education Agency’s Web site.