Important Progress

Today’s State Board of Education hearing on proposed new social studies standards for Texas public schools was long and often exhausting. (Scroll down to find our blog posts from the hearing.) But we noted some important progress for ensuring that our schoolchildren get an honest and sound education.

In particular, David Barton and Peter Marshall were in full retreat from their calls over the summer to remove Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall from the social studies standards. When questioned today by state board members, the two claimed they had never really wanted to blacklist the two famous civil rights leaders. Oh no, they simply thought that Chavez and Marshall had been misplaced in the standards. By suggesting that discussion of Chavez be moved elsewhere, for example, Barton even claimed he was trying to make room for more minorities. Marshall protested that he had only wanted to make sure that the two were discussed in their proper context.

All of that was misleading, of course. This is what Barton had said about Chavez last June:

“(Chavez’s) open affiliation with Saul Alinsky’s movements certainly makes dubious that he is a praiseworthy to be heralded to students as someone ‘who modeled active participation in the democratic process.’”

Peter Marshall had said much the same:

“Chavez is hardly the kind of role model that ought to be held up to our children as someone worthy of emulation.”

He had also argued in June that Thurgood Marshall wasn’t “a strong enough example” of an important historical figure to be included in the standards.

So what happened? After TFN exposed those absurd comments this summer, newspapers, elected officials, educators, civil rights groups and parents were vocal and loud in opposing efforts to censor instruction about Chavez and Marshall. Barton and Peter Marshall obviously felt the heat and backed down. In fact, Barton today ended up offering an extensive list of minorities he thought should be included in the standards (even though he has argued in the past that “multicultural” standards too often crowd out instruction on important American heroes and historical figures from the past).

But while we made some progress today on one front in the far-right’s curriculum “culture war,” the board’s far-right faction continued to pressure curriculum teams to rewrite the history of the relationship between religion and government in the United States. They insisted that the teams include standards suggesting that our nation and government were founded on conservative Christian biblical principles. Those efforts to distort history — and undermine important protections for religious freedom in our country — are likely to continue until the final vote on new curriculum standards in March.

10 thoughts on “Important Progress

  1. TFN Said: “But while we made some progress today on how minorities are discussed in the curriculum standards, the board’s far-right faction continued to pressure curriculum teams to rewrite the history of the relationship between religion and government in the United States. They insisted that the teams include standards suggesting that our nation and government were founded on conservative Christian biblical principles. Those efforts to distort history — and undermine important protections for religious freedom in our country — are likely to continue until the final vote on new curriculum standards in March.

    Try this out:

    “Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith.”

    –Adolf Hitler speech made during negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordant of 1933, 26 April 1933

  2. “Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith.”

    –Adolf Hitler speech made during negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordant of 1933, 26 April 1933

    Before I got to the Hitler attribution, I thought I recognized the quote as coming from this book (by a current SBOE member):
    http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/261173692

  3. Re: Worldcat.org
    I gave the link at Worldcat, rather than amazon (where I got my copy), with the thought that anyone who wanted to see it could get it from a library rather than by purchasing it.

    Now I see that Worldcat shows it in only two libraries in the world (plus one bookseller):
    1. Liberty (i.e., Jerry Falwell) University; and
    2. the Texas Legislative Reference Library

    Y’all are living in your own universe, it seems. (Having been a U. Houston [“Couger High”] faculty member for two years in the mid-80’s, I can sympathize.)

  4. You would think that someone would see some sort of clue there. The Bible is in nearly every library on the planet—including public school libraries. Dunbar’s book is at the library in Nowheresville.

  5. Yes, I have some important progress to report as well. We see so many “ad hominem” arguments. I have begun to work on a new rhetorical model that I refer to as the “ad M & M” argument.” It melts into your head rather than in your hands and has a chocolate after taste. The argument also has a thin outer shell that comes in multiple colors that reflect the tone and/or mood of the argument. For example, a blue “ad M & M argument” has a sad or depressive mood. A red “ad M & M argument” has a passionate tone and angry mood.

    By the way, just in case you did not know, the thin outer candy shell that causes M & M candies to “…melt in your mouth but not in your hands…” was invented by Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio. I worked for them at one time—nice bunch of people—very smart.

  6. Cesar Chavez/Thurgood Marshall was a red herring ploy. While sane people rip their hair over this they quietly push for what they really want – making the United States a “Christian Nation”.

  7. I don’t think anyone here ate that red herring. We know what they really want. They know that we know what they really want. Eventually, everyone is going to know what they really want, which means they will not get it.

  8. How much funnier can it get than Peter Marshall and David Barton backpeddling and trying and prove to everyone in a public forum that they aren’t racists?

    I just howled as I listned to their explanations.

    It doesn’t get any funnier than that! You can’t make this stuff up.

  9. Totally off-topic but, Charles, I LOVE LOVE LOVE M&M’s. M&M’s are my drug of choice. Especially M&M peanuts! It’s horrible withdrawing from them.

  10. The playbook is right out of 1984. “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” If the goal is to make this a Christian nation where there is no separation of church and state (and to the social conservative bloc, that’s EXACTLY the goal), then you start by convincing people that this has ALWAYS been a Christian nation with no separation of church and state. That’s 90% of what the fight over social studies TEKS is about.

    And what’s the best way to rewrite the history of the last 240 years? Start by rewriting the history of the last few months! (Kudos to TFN for not letting them get away with it. )

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