It Gets Even Worse on Social Studies

State Board of Education member Don McLeroy, R-College Station, is circulating new changes he wants to make to proposed social studies curriuclum standards for Texas public schools. We didn’t think next week’s state board meeting on the standards could get any worse than what happened in March. But McLeroy’s proposed new changes have disabused us of that hopeful thought. We just issued the following press release:

New changes a Texas State Board of Education member wants to make to proposed curriculum standards represent a stunning rewrite of American history on issues ranging from religious freedom to civil rights and would politicize public school classrooms, the president of the Texas Freedom Network said today.

“Even at the eleventh hour, board members are trying to rewrite history and promote political agendas in our kids’ classrooms,” TFN President Kathy Miller said. “The education of our schoolchildren should be based on the work of academic experts and scholars, not the political biases and fringe ideas of dentists, realtors and other politicians on the state board.”

Don McLeroy, a Republican board member from College Station, has circulated to board colleagues changes he plans to recommend next week when the board resumes debate over proposed new curriculum standards for social studies. Among the changes McLeroy wants to make:

· Add a standard to the eighth-grade U.S. history course that maintains separation of church and state was not the intent of the Founders who drafted the Constitution and Bill of Rights: “Contrast the Founders’ intent relative to the wording of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause, with the popular term ‘Separation of church and state.’”

· Strike from a standard in the high school U.S. history course a 1948 court decision, Delgado v. Bastrop ISD, that barred segregation of students of Mexican descent in Texas public schools. McLeroy proposes replacing that decision with 2009 Supreme Court employment discrimination decision involving white firefighters in Connecticut (Ricci v. DeStefano) and a 2005 decision dealing with the government’s powers of eminent domain (Kelo v. City of New London).

· Change a high school U.S. history standard to downplay the positive impact of Progressive Era reforms and suggest that the work of the era’s reformers like Upton Sinclair, Susan B. Anthony, Ida B. Wells and W.E.B. DuBois created a negative portrayal of America.

· Add a standard to high school U.S. history requiring students to “evaluate efforts by global organizations to undermine U.S. sovereignty.”

· Add a standard to high school U.S. history having students “discuss alternatives regarding long term entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, given the decreasing worker to retiree ratio.”

The full text of McLeroy’s amendments and his justifications for each are available here.

Proposed changes like these make it even more important that the board delay a final vote on the standards and appoint a panel of real academic experts and classroom teachers to review changes board members have made since January, Miller said.

43 thoughts on “It Gets Even Worse on Social Studies

  1. One person, especially one who is not a historian or expert in matters historical, generally makes only hysterical observations and suggestions. McLeroy’s minimal knowledge, but major political clout, is a Texas sized JOKE.

  2. Does that idiot mean “global oil corporations” when he’s talking about ” efforts by global organizations to undermine U.S. sovereignty.”?

    This is good. The kook is getting even kookier. It means he knows the end is near, and he imagines they can have “some impact” that can’t be simply reversed when he’s out of there.

    The whackier they get the better.

  3. Texas deserves McElroy and his ilk. The problem comes when their vicious bigotry infects education in other states.

  4. It this poitn it would be better for them to just get rid of all social studies classes. The kids would end up with a better education that way.

  5. Little Lord McLeroy™ at his finest. I hope he gets all his brilliant additions incorporated. Then the Legislature will have to pay attention. The textbook publishers should boycott the whole mess, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of teachers did the same.

  6. Intentionally fostering ignorance on school kids is the most spectacularly irresponsible thing that I can think of. Aren’t there any grownups left in Texas government? At some point, teachers are going to have to make critical decisions on just what they are willing to teach because of people who have no business making decisions about curricula.

    Surely, there must be someone who can make a compelling case for intellectual honesty in the classroom.

  7. Well, if these horrible provisions are approved, I for one will be shopping for private schools for my children to attend. No way will I allow right wing nutjobs brainwash my kids. As a born and raised native Texan, I am embarrassed.

  8. K in Va :

    I am astounded you would say such a thing considering how screwed up VA is with your Confederate Gov. and crazy L.G. (or is he A.G.?)
    No child deserves to be raised in ignorance.
    Our country can not afford an ignorant population, our economy cannot survive with an idiot population.
    Education ultimately is a matter of national security.
    And I could list all the other reasons why we can’t allow this kind of hooey anywhere in the country. The humane reasons relating to the pursuit of happiness etc.
    Texas is no more bigoted than VA.

  9. It’s way past time that this dangerous lunatic was impeached and removed from this position.

  10. Thank you Dr. McLeroy. In the same spirit, I would like to add a couple of more similar revisions to the Texas social studies curriculum:

    1) John Wilkes Booth did the nation a favor by killing Abraham Lincoln. This selfless act of heroism assured that southern boy Vice-President Andrew Johnson would become President and practice policies that would be helpful in creation of the Jim Crow atmosphere that would allow the south to rise again and stay risen until Brown vs. Board of Education. Who will save us from the black people now?

    2) The December 7, 1941, Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor was a glorious act of heroism. The Japanese people should be greatly praised for their effort and success. If it had not occurred, the United States would not be the strong and wealthy nation that it is now. Neither would Japan. All Americans owe an eternal debt of gratitude to the “zero pilots” who launched the famous raid and built up our country as a direct result.


    Show the following film clip and ask the students in class to describe in detail all of the positive things the Japanese pilots are doing to help the United States and its people towards a better tomorrow:

    Yes, that’s right Johnny!!! If the Japanese pilots had not attacked Pearl Harbor, Faith Hill would not have had this hit song. Praise be to the Japanese pilots for invigorating the American music industry:

    When-Oh-When-Oh-When will the people of Texas ever wake up to this sort of nonsense the radical right Texas SBOE is trying to foist on Texas school children. What I have shown above is exactly what they are doing right now—they are just doing it with different historical events and trying to pawn it off to the people of Texas as truth when none is really there.

    Wake up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. McLeroy is on his way out. We can get Ken Mercer out, and put Rebecca Bell-Metereau in.

    After we do that, it’ll sort of be like the final scene in Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.

  12. It’s sad that those of us in this state (Texas)that know better have to suffer through ignorant politicians like McLeroy. This is not the first time he has tried to make drastic politically charged changes to the curriculum of the state. Last year he tried to have the teaching of evolution changed to requiring teachers to teach creationism as well an emphasize that evolution was more than likely wrong. Why is there a dentist trying to Change what is taught in public schools? If anything shouldn’t he be educating kindergarten children about brushing their teeth?

  13. via a diary by RebeccaBellMetereau –

    Michael Soto states:

    My fourth concern: As a Texan, I’m embarrassed to say that the “American exceptionalism” standard is not just a shoddy misrepresentation of Tocqueville; this part of the standard was plagiarized from a UCLA Graduate School of Education website, a source that conflates Tocqueville and Lipset in potentially confusing ways. And sadly, other parts of the “American exceptionalism” standard were lifted almost verbatim from Wikipedia. If one of my Trinity University students handed in this work, he or she would receive a D for the quality of ideas and an F for academic dishonesty. Let me be absolutely clear for the public record: The social studies TEKS are plagiarized work. Can we all agree that Texas kids deserve better than this? Shouldn’t the State Board of Education be held to a higher standard?

  14. I read McLeroy’s 11th hour amendments, a few comments below.

    “The victims: poor people, brown-haired white people, African Americans, immigrants, Indians, Eastern European Jews, the infirm…”

    What is meant by “Indians?” People from India? Not only is the word’s usage antiquated, it’s a perpetuated misnomer by people who don’t take the time to think it out. If this is in reference to peoples anthropologists generally term “Amerindians,” why not use the correct scholastic term? “Infirm” is used as an adjective or verb. It is not a noun. If these basic mistakes are present, can we trust McLeroy’s overall scholarship?

    “(B) describe how the extent and danger of Soviet agent infiltration of the U.S. government as revealed in Alger Hiss’ guilt and confirmed later by the Venona Papers, McCarthyism, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), the arms race, and the space race affected/reflected increased Cold War tensions.”

    The Verona Papers are not a vindication of McCarthyism. Unless one is saying the Verona Papers justify McCarthy’s methodologies. If this is what is meant, it should be stated clearly and distinctly. There is no historical dispute that there were communist infiltrators. A careful study of McCarthy’s methods is what is of importance. In fact, his methods had more similarities to the Soviet commissar class than a US Senator.

    “(C)Evaluate efforts by global organizations to undermine U. S. sovereignty.”

    This amendment is ideologically based on current interpretations of End Times Theology.

    “(F) discuss alternatives regarding long term entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, given the decreasing worker to retiree ratio”

    1) The wording is politically biased and, 2) this is not an grade-appropriate discussion even if it were to be framed in a linguistically neutral way

    “Further, standards should avoid viewing historical events in terms of today’s values (presentism). Such an approach can lead to erroneous perceptions of history, such as categorizing President Lincoln as a racist.”

    First, if we are to abide by this rule, then the amendment adding the Verona Papers to the lesson on McCarthyism, and wording changed to “affected/reflected,” is an attempt of what McLeroy calls “presentism.” The second statement as to the possible error that President Lincoln could be portrayed as a racist is absurd, inflammatory and a diversion. While it is true Lincoln was a major catalyst in ending slavery, there is ample written record that he held views of African slaves that were much in line with what most people of the era thought–that they were genetically less developed than other races. Nonetheless, he firmly believed they should be freed. In the larger picture, many people used the Bible and Christianity for the justification for perpetuating slavery. A more interesting study may be how religion has been used for political reasons in all kinds of situations throughout history–and how adherence to democratic values influenced by the Enlightenment has trumped those attempts 99.9% of the time through concerted effort by an involved citizenry.

  15. This November we will be able to tell here in Texas if the wacky is going to continue expanding or if sane adults will be put back in charge at some point. We have the opportunity to throw out the wingnut Perry for Bill White, the extremely successful and middle of the road former Democratic mayor of Houston.

    I consider that that particular election is going to be the canary in the mine for how far off the edge Texas will continue to fall.

    But lately I have to admit it feels like we’re right on the tail of Arizona.

  16. We’re pulling back, but the fight’s not over.
    We need to get rid of Ken Mercer.
    We need to get rid of Perry.
    We really need a big turnout in the next election, especially by women. This will be a big year.

  17. It would also be appropriate for Boards of Education everywhere to understand Article Six, the First Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment of the Supreme Law of the land applies to every state and “religion” shall not be established by law at any level of government. If TFN will send me the names and addresses of each of the TBOE members, I will send them a copy of my book The Religion Commandments in the Constitution: A Primer.

    Gene Garman, M.Div.

  18. I moved to Texas, but I got out as fast as I could!

    Okay, I kid. Some of the most intelligent and likable people I’ve ever known live in Denton and West Texas is one of the finest places in America.

    But seriously… I once interviewed for an internship and was asked if I believed Jesus Christ was my personal savior. WTF!?

  19. Gene, Ben,

    That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!!

    Daniel, I know how you feel, brother. I know how you feel.
    I’ll be glad when Christianity goes back to being a religion and ceases to be a political movement.
    Or a fave of the obsessive-compulsive control freaks out there.

  20. Some good books on religion:
    “The Neuropsychological bases of god beliefs” Dr. Michael A. Persinger MD, psychiatrist 1987
    “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bi-Cameral Mind” Julian Jaynes Professor, Harvard University 1976
    “The Psychiatric Interview in Clinical Practice” Roger A. MacKinnon, M.D., Robert Michels, M.D. W. B. Saunders Co. 1971
    “The God delusion” by Richard Dawkins.
    “The Science of Good and Evil” by Michael Shermer, 2004
    Many books in the new science called “Sociobiology”:
    “God: The Failed Hypothesis” by Victor Stenger.
    “The God Part of the Brain” by Matthew Alper 1996.
    “The Accidental Mind” by David J. Linden, 2007 Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
    “Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism” edited by Petto & Godfrey, 2007. The ID and creationist crowd are trying to do away with science. They see science as a “godless religion.” Science is a process, not a religion.
    “Manufacturing Belief” by Lewis Wolpert
    “The End of Faith” and “Letter to a Christian Nation” by Sam Harris
    “Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon”, by Daniel Dennett
    “Origins of the Modern Mind” by Merlin Donald 1991
    “Atheism, A Case Against God” by George Smith
    “God is not Great; how religion poisons everything” by Christopher Hitchens, 2007
    Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist” by Dan Barker
    The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution” by Richard Dawkins
    “Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time” by Michael Shermer.

  21. It is imperative that the board delay a final vote on the standards until after the November election. The people who were not re-elected should not be determining the standards for the next ten years as they do not represent the views of the voting public.

  22. Rebecca is right—not to mention cute, petite, and sharper than razor wire. Hey!!! My mother favored the handsomest candidate back in the years when she was alive. Well, that’s what she told me. She was a good Christian woman her whole life. Ken Mercer sure ain’t gonna win Mrs. USA. You can bet your bottom dollar on that one.

    Tragically, (O-o-o-o-h!!! C’est tragique!!!), the radical right members of the Texas SBOE are going to ride into Austin mid-week and do whatever they have the power to do. In fact, I would betcha one thing more. Given the sense of right wing empowerment that the Tea Party has evoked throughout the country, I would bet my last buck that these folks believe they are on the leading edge of a conservative tidal wave that is finally about to transform our country their way—forever. Therefore, I expect to see a treasure trove, a veritable cornucopia, of new and previously uncirculated radical right amendments to the social studies TEKs. I expect them to go for the gold!!!! Was it really Abraham Lincoln who founded the Ku Klux Klan in Pulaski, Tennessee?” Tune in to the Texas SBOE meeting later this week and find out.

  23. Good, the more looney tunes they make it, the easier it will be for everyone to agree to go back in and change it all back once the rational adults take over.
    It needs to be a major campaign issue this fall. Every parent should see it as a matter of their kids being educated for success in the 21st Cent . economy, rather than qualify for real-life civil war re-enactors.

  24. while I am drastically against any form of Government Religion being established, freedom of religion was a [if not “the”] primary factor in people coming to this country. The banishment of religion is just as bad as inclusion of religion from that perspective.

    The Constitution prohibits the establishment of a government religion. A religion is does not have to be God based to be a religion, and this is what is happening today. The absence of God does not mean the absence of religion, government sponsored or not.

    There are so few comments that stick to the point of the discussion and do not degenerate into mere name calling is very disheartening. Mere invective is not a discussion, but childlike behavior of those with no constructive comments to add. This is so much more prevalent in liberal blogs than conservative blogs, I wonder why since liberals are usually more erudite and considered in their arguments than their conservative counterparts. Much more elite and studied. Sad demonstration of intolerance at its worst.

  25. Deke. It is obvious to most of us here that the intolerance rests with the radical right on the Texas SBOE. In fact, most conservatives I know, especially Christian Neo-Fundamentalists, despise the word “tolerance.” They see even the mention of it in casual conversation as an indicator that they have a hated liberal in their midst. God is intolerant. Satan is tolerant. If you do not believe me, look at the following quotations from the far right conservative founder of the Christian nationalism movement in the United States. Then read his other quotes at the URL. You will see where the dominant philosophy on the Texas SBOE plans to take our kids. If you call that tolerance, I have some swamp land in Arizona that you might like to buy…

    “Segregation or separation is thus a basic principle of Biblical law with respect to religion and morality. Every attempt to destroy this principle is an effort to reduce society to its lowest common denominator. Toleration is the excuse under which this levelling is undertaken, but the concept of toleration conceals a radical intolerance. In the name of toleration, the believer is asked to associate on a common level of total acceptance with the atheist, the pervert, the criminal, and the adherents of other religions as though no differences existed. [R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1973), p. 294]

    “Democracy is the great love of the failures and cowards of life.” [R.J. Rushdoony, _Thy Kingdom Come_,1978]

    “One faith, one law and one standard of justice did not mean democracy. The heresy of democracy has since then worked havoc in church and state . . . Christianity and democracy are inevitably enemies.” (p 100) [R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law]

    Deke. You conservatives really need to get out more. If one decides to march to the beat of the conservative drum, one should at least know the most fundamental beliefs and philosophies of the people who are leading their parade. Rushdoony is dead now, but his ideas are leading the Religious Right and Christian nationalist parade in the United States right now. If you feel personally comfortable with the quotes above, which are typical Rushdoony, then you should stay where you are. If those quotes trouble you, then you need to take a closer look at people like David Barton and the far right conservatives on the Texas SBOE.

  26. Deke, we don’t stray very far off topic here. We do run out of words and phrases to describe the idiocy of the TSBOE, and we’re tired. That”s exactly what they want. McLeroy is hoping his opponents get tired. He’s out of there, so he’s going to make the most of his time left.
    We kind of get pumped up when he does something even more stupid.
    There’s no way to discuss this without using the words stupid or idiocy. It’s not intolerance.
    Yes, there are atheists out there who are intolerant, and propose establishing atheism as a rigid, intolerant form of state religion.
    Most of us here, even the atheists, are not in that category.
    Christianity has thrived under secularism. Now it is threatened with catastrophe by the very people who want to establish it as a state religion.
    And the people that are exploiting it for personal gain.
    Think about it.
    Thanks Charles. Dang it, I learn something nearly every time I read this post. That’s what this is all about. Education.
    Knowledge. Freedom.

  27. “Yes, there are atheists out there who are intolerant, and propose establishing atheism as a rigid, intolerant form of state religion.”

    David, in my 45 years, I haven’t encountered a single person who meets this description. Not saying they don’t exist–I guess every kind of nutcase exists–but please point me in their direction, so I can tell them they are idiots.

  28. That’s based entirely on Facebook posts I’ve read relating to “1,000,000 who believe in evolution,” and “secular coalition for America”.
    There’s a lot of haters out there, apparently. Atheism can in fact be part of a totalitarian system as we’ve seen in China and the Soviet Union.

    I realize people say things on blog posts they wouldn’t have the courage to say otherwise, but…

    I probably should have said that atheism has the potential to be a vehicle for intolerance and a mind control weapon of a totalitarian state, just like any other religion.

  29. In my opinion, Sam Harris sums it up well:

    “People of faith often claim that the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were the inevitable product of unbelief. The problem with fascism and communism, however, is not that they are too critical of religion; the problem is that they are too much like religions. Such regimes are dogmatic to the core and generally give rise to personality cults that are indistinguishable from cults of religious hero worship. Auschwitz, the gulag and the killing fields were not examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma; they are examples of political, racial and nationalistic dogma run amok. There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.”

    I’ve met a lot of atheists and agnostics, and not one of them would support the idea of an atheist government as opposed to a secular government. Not one of them would attempt to deprive anyone of their civil rights.

  30. Although I am a Christian and Ben is an atheist, I have to say in all honesty that I have never met a megalomaniac atheist who wanted to start an atheist government and lord his beliefs, nonbeliefs, or whatever you call them over everyone else.

    There is also a great spiritual mystery I have been trying to figure out for a couple of years now. I could phrase it as a question. Why do so many atheists out in our society behave as Christians are supposed to behave, and why do so many professing Christians behave in the dastardly manner the atheists are supposed to behave—but don’t. Behaviorally speaking, no offense intended, many atheists are some of the best Christians I have ever met. So, what in the Sam Hill does that mean? Let me give you an example. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (II Timothy 1:7). Anyone here think Don McLeroy or Terri Leo has a sound mind? Ben and David seem to me to be much more balanced and level-headed. I never see anything out of Leo or Dunbar that looks like love—a lot of sour facial expressions—but not love.

    Power? The Bible says that the “meek” shall inherit the Earth. An old Baptist preacher many years ago taught me that the word “meek” in this verse does not mean a condition of withdrawn and shy lowliness like it does in English. The Greek or Aramaic word when properly translated into English means “right use of power.” Therefore, what Jesus is saying in this verse is that those people or spirits who are balanced, level-headed, sensible, and know how to use power rightly, justly, and wisely will inherit the Earth. Jesus never fails. Is that not a beautiful thought? When was the last time we ever saw any of that on this planet or on the Texas SBOE?


    I would like to help you. I have tried to post photographs and graphics to TFN Insider and have met with the same frustrations as you. It is either illegal by design, or the trick has eluded both of us. How about it TFN? If TFN does not answer, you can bet it is by design.

  31. I love (NOT) the irony in these absurd proposed amendments of the following “Justification” quotation:

    “Threats of global government to individual freedom and liberty include the votes of the U.N. General Assembly, the International Crime Court, the U.N. Gun Ban proposal, forced redistribution of wealth to third world countries, and global environment initiatives.” (Source, p.6:

    Well, bummer. I suppose we should start toppling the U.N. — even though we built it on our own soil. And there is absolutely NO way ANY kind of “global environmental initiative” could POSSIBLY improve my and/or your individual freedom and liberty. I mean, seriously. No. Way.

    -A Native Texan

  32. Daniel Daugherty wrote: “I once interviewed for an internship and was asked if I believed Jesus Christ was my personal savior. WTF!?”

    My former physician (here in Texas) pretty much said the same thing to me. It went something like this: “You need to acknowledge that Jesus Christ died for your sins.”

    I couldn’t believe it. This from a physician!! Needless to say, I am no longer her patient. I wrote her a long letter explaining exactly why I would not be returning to her for my health care. (Not surprisingly, I received no response from her. No apology, no nothing.) Not only was her behavior unprofessional and inappropriate, she was clearly also trying to tell me she wants to treat only Christian patients.

  33. Someone up line said: “The Constitution prohibits the establishment of a government religion. A religion does not have to be God based to be a religion,”

    The error in that above statement is obvious: the words “a government” do not exist in the First Amendment.

    The First Amendment means just exactly what it says: “no law respecting an establishment of religion.” There is no exception or exclusion for any kind of religion, that is, Congress shall make no law respecting “religion,” regardless of kind. The First Amendment prohibits establishment of any and all kinds of “religion.” It is the whole subject of “religion” which shall not be established by law or Congress or government at any level, regardless of what kind of religion. In America “religion” is to be voluntary, not established or imposed by law or government at any level. The First Congress understood exactly what it wrote and got the wording correct from the beginning, no additional words are needed for what the First Amendment says and commands. “Congress shall make no law … prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” that is, of religion.

    The free exercise of religion is in contrast to religion established by law, that is, “free” as in voluntary exercise, not as in religion exercise established by law. Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. It is the free, i.e., voluntary exercise of religion which shall not be prohibited, which means totally forbidden, see Webster’s Dictionary. Government cannot totally forbid the free exercise of religion, which means the exercise of religion (action) is not above the laws of the land which apply to all citizens equally, regardless of religion opinion. A citizen can do whatever is within the laws of the land, but no action shall be allowed in violation of the laws of the land, regardless of religion opinion. The free exercise clause is not a license for anarchy, as the Supreme Court ruled way back in 1890, Reynolds v. U.S., when it ruled polygamy unconstitutional. As you know, Texas is still behind in understanding that ruling. Religion shall not be established by law, and its exercise shall not totally forbidden, which what prohibited means.

    The wording of the First Amendment is plainly worded with perfect grammar–no revisions are necessary for understanding what the First Congress wrote.