Don McLeroy — the College Station Republican whose nomination as chairman of the State Board of Education the Texas Senate rejected in May — is defending unqualified, board-appointed “experts” who want important historical figures like César Chavez and Thurgood Marshall removed from social studies curriculum standards for public schools.
McLeroy is quoted in a Dallas Morning News story about reviews of the current standards by David Barton of WallBuilders and conservative evangelical minister Peter Marshall. Barton has earned only a bachelor’s degree in religious education. Marshall also has no graduate work in the social sciences. But both are prominent political activists among far-right evangelicals.
Despite their absurdly weak credentials, McLeroy told the Dallas Morning News he thinks Barton and Marshall are “very qualified” to sit on an “expert” panel guiding the revision of the social studies standards:
“There is no doubt they have the experience and expertise to advise the writing teams and the board on the standards,” he said, noting he has not yet read the experts’ recommendations.
Really? McLeroy should check out a comparison of the credentials of the six people the state board has appointed to the so-called “expert” panel. Barton and Marshall aren’t on the panel because they have the academic qualifications to know what they’re talking about when it comes to social studies education. They’re on the panel to politicize the education of Texas schoolchildren. And Don McLeroy and his far-right buddies on the state board couldn’t be happier.
Anyone not concerned about where this revision process is heading simply isn’t paying attention. The warning signs are flashing bright red.
7 thoughts on “McLeroy Defends Unqualified ‘Experts’”
Motion to the floor. I move that we dispense with the Texas social studies curriculum all together and move to a floor vote on an amendment to hold all public school social studies classes from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. each Sunday morning at the largest Christian Neo-Fundamentalist church in each Texas city or county. Do I have a second?
One of the things that comes clear is the political agenda, and the dangers of the political agenda.
For example, Peter Marshall argues against studying Thurgood Marshall, the man who rose to defend desegregation of America’s schools because of the intervention of Mark Twain, the man who got a unanimous decision, Brown v. Topeka Board of Education, from a nominally racist Supreme Court overturning a powerful Supreme Court precedent (Plessy v. Ferguson), a decision which changed the schools of America, the patterns of settlement of America, and everything else about America to its core (could Michael Jackson have had the career he had in pre-1953 America?); and also argues that Roe v. Wade be taught to kids as the most crucial case in the 20th century.
So, Marshall is anti-civil rights on all scores, appearing to wish to stamp out the history of civil rights so that the rights of women would have no basis in history, at least not to the understanding of America’s kids.
I think these guys are short-sighted, as well as generally blinded to U.S. history. Do they really want kids to study Roe v. Wade? Few people know what the case says, but detailed study would end that. It’s a case in which the Court walks a narrow line, not always a straight one, between religious belief and superstition on one side, and science and legal rights on the other. To understand Roe, students would have to study the various religious beliefs about ensoulment, and when life begins. The anti-Roe forces have adopted wholesale the Catholic belief that life begins at conceptions. This will make 9th grade health classes and biology classes much more relevant, suddenly. I can see debates breaking out not only in social studies, but also in science classes, about when a separate creature comes into being and becomes viable.
Roe relies on a string of precedents, including Griswold v. Connecticut, in which the right of privacy was forcefully defended by the Court. On the one hand Marshall claims that the Court shouldn’t be “making new law,” but on the other hand, most kids respond instinctively that people have a right to privacy even if it’s not detailed in the Constitution. My experience is that students generally agree that the Court got it right in Griswold, even if it looks like “new law.” Especially high school kids stand up for the right of a married couple to use condoms, contrary to the Connecticut law in question.
I would argue that the Brown case is more important than Roe if I have to choose one over the other, as Marshall and Barton would have us choose. Theirs is the path to academic flaccidity, however. But if we are to take their advice, they may rue the day they gave it, as a new generation grows up accepting people of other races in their classrooms as normal, and studying attempts to stifle privacy rights and reproductive rights. Students may arrive at a different conclusion than Marshall did.
Unless, of course, Marshall and Barton are successful in censoring much of the rest of U.S. and world history.
“I think these guys are short-sighted, as well as generally blinded to U.S. history. Do they really want kids to study Roe v. Wade? Few people know what the case says, but detailed study would end that. It’s a case in which the Court walks a narrow line, not always a straight one, between religious belief and superstition on one side, and science and legal rights on the other. To understand Roe, students would have to study the various religious beliefs about ensoulment, and when life begins. The anti-Roe forces have adopted wholesale the Catholic belief that life begins at conceptions. This will make 9th grade health classes and biology classes much more relevant, suddenly. I can see debates breaking out not only in social studies, but also in science classes, about when a separate creature comes into being and becomes viable.”
Don”t bet on it Darrell. Barton and Marshall are gambling that the social studies or science teacher will be a Southern Baptist or Christian Neo-Fundamentalist who will inform the students in no uncertain terms that life begins at conception—and that’s it—you must accept it—no discussion.
Charles wrote: “I move that we dispense with the Texas social studies curriculum all together and move to a floor vote on an amendment to hold all public school social studies classes from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. each Sunday morning at the largest Christian Neo-Fundamentalist church in each Texas city or county. Do I have a second?”
In today’s Texas such a motion would pass with flying colors, resulting in non-fundie non-Christian kids being forced to do just that. This is probably where Texas is headed anyway so I’m not sure a vote is necessary. I think it will just ‘evolve.’ (Excuse my use of such a “dirty” word.)
I think Barton, McLeroy, Marshall, and the fundamentalist holier than thou club are dunderheads. Their knowledge of History and Social Studies could half fill a thimble. ALL of those fundamentalists on the Texas School Board of Education are persistent and consistent — they are persistent is presenting anti-Education material before the board, and they are consistently wrong. The world is watching Texas, and these same tribe members do not adhere and subscribe to Evolution, but I do think they all live in Monkey Trees. Barton is the president of WallBuilders and teaches that America is a Christian nation. How unChristian can you get than building walls in society. Jesus came to tear down the walls of racism, sexism, nationalism, and every other ism out there. They have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they don’t know History, Science, or Christianity. Amen. -Wendell Franklin Wentz
Wendell Franklin Wentz wrote above: “Jesus came to tear down the walls of racism, sexism, nationalism, and every other ism out there.”
With all due respect, Mr. Wentz, I don’t think that statement is entirely accurate. I’m not sure to which “ism” the following verses apply but check out:
Matthew 10:5-7: “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel….”
and Matthew 15:24: “But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
I think these two verses speak for themselves.
Consider as well Mark 7:24-30 in which appears the story of the Gentile woman (a Syro-Phoenician) who approaches Jesus and asks him to heal her daughter. Jesus at first responds by calling the woman a ‘dog.’ Whatever culture or time period one is discussing, calling someone a ‘dog’ certainly couldn’t be considered polite. Only after she continues to plead does he finally (maybe grudgingly?) agree to heal her daughter.
Contrast that with the story of Elisha and Naaman, found in II Kings. Naaman was a Syrian – a Gentile – suffering from leprosy. Yet Elisha instructs him how to be healed. There was no name-calling involved, and no humbling of Naaman by forcing him to repeatedly plead for a cure.
I think this too speaks for itself.
Jesus told his disciples to go to the house of Israel because time was short, and he wanted Israel to hear his message. The parable of the Good Samaritan tells me that all men and women are my neighbors, and I will not erect walls between the ones I love and myself. Jesus did say the woman was known as a dog, but he loved her and embraced her. I have the words of the apostle who said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” That is good enough for me. I will not build walls to separate others. I read about “the middle wall of partition between us” being broken down. I grew up in a racist society, and I have heard Scripture quoted to separate people, yet Jesus died for all mankind, and I love everybody for whom he died. Amen. -Wendell Franklin Wentz