NYT: How the Texas Right Hijacks Education

UPDATE: See more about the New York Times Magazine cover image here.

The New York Times Magazine has just published online a major piece about the Texas State Board of Education and its role in promoting far-right efforts to hijack public education in America. The article will also appear in the Sunday Times’ print edition. Money quote:

The Christian “truth” about America’s founding has long been taught in Christian schools, but not beyond. Recently, however — perhaps out of ire at what they see as an aggressive, secular, liberal agenda in Washington and perhaps also because they sense an opening in the battle, a sudden weakness in the lines of the secularists — some activists decided that the time was right to try to reshape the history that children in public schools study. Succeeding at this would help them toward their ultimate goal of reshaping American society. As Cynthia Dunbar, another Christian activist on the Texas board, put it, “The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next.”

Of course, the issue isn’t really about a “Christian truth” or “Christian activists.” The issue is the fanaticism and intolerance of religious fundamentalists who want to turn public school classrooms into tools for promoting ideological agendas. They viciously attack anyone who disagrees with them as leftist radicals who hate Christians. Yet many who do oppose their efforts are also Christians and other people of faith (as well as nonbelievers). These opponents simply reject efforts to promote the religious and political views of some over those of everybody else in our public schools.

The article offers a stunning view of how the State Board of Education’s far-right faction manipulates the curriculum development and textbook adoption processes — and thereby influences what millions of public school students learn not just in Texas, but across the country as well.

Kathy Miller of the Texas Freedom Network also talked to the writer about the board:

“It is the most crazy-making thing to sit there and watch a dentist and an insurance salesman rewrite curriculum standards in science and history. Last year, Don McLeroy believed he was smarter than the National Academy of Sciences, and he now believes he’s smarter than professors of American history.”

Read the whole thing.

9 thoughts on “NYT: How the Texas Right Hijacks Education

  1. Great article.

    Every time I hear McLeroy and Dunbar and related loonies express their confused opinions about the founding documents, I think to myself, “How would those documents read if, say, McLeroy had written them?” The answer is–They would be dripping with Jesus and the Christian bible from top to bottom. So…why aren’t they actually written that way? We all know the answer to that.

  2. Sheesh. That article was too long for even me. Imagine that.

    Well, considering the national circulation of the New York Times, most of the smart and well-educated people in the United States will get a nice serving of home-grown Texas fruitcake.

    The only thing that disturbed me about the article was something I typical see in articles written in places like NYC. Early on, the article laid out the exact dimensions of how various early Christian groups were influential in one way or another in American history. However, by the end of the article, the author appeared to be labeling the whole SBOE mess in Texas as a “Christian” problem, as if ALL Christian denominations from one border of Texas to another are monolithically united in support of McLeroy. Therefore, the only way to fix the Texas SBOE is to somewhow fix the “unified Christian problem” in Texas.

    This sort of subtle conclusion, if only made subconsciously by a tired author at the end of a long article, plays right into the hands of the Christian Neo-Fundamentalists, who as a matter of willful political strategy, have long sought to peddle the grossly false notion that they are the leaders of a vast and united army that encompasses every single Christian in the United States. This is just plain false, and I think the author should have named all of the many Christian denominations and religious groups that are deeply opposed to what this loud band of Texas Christian Neo-Fundamentalists is doing with Texas public schools. It was a good article otherwise—but no Pulitzer Prize here.

  3. I grew up in Austin, had public education from first grade through two degrees from the University of Texas. I also have been a church-going Christian all my life. I am continually shocked at the degree of ignorance being shouted from the rooftops of our state government. In all my education I never encountered fear of science, rewriting of history, and actual adherence to fundamentalism. A major step to halting our race to the bottom in Texas would be to back the only sane person running for Governor, Bill White. We need a governor who will eliminate the State Board of Education and turn educational matters over to professionals at the Texas Education Agency and people in our school districts who have the interests of all the children of Texas at heart.

  4. The NYT piece is an incredibly well prepared article; not like the gibberish of our College Station dentist and his cohorts. Read it, Texas SBOE; then hop on your high horses and go away. Education in Texas doesn’t need you at all.

  5. the publishing companies have to unite and get a backbone and not give in to these know-nothing school boards–

  6. And here we are, on the morning of SBOE’s meeting — is there any hope that McLeroy will wake up sane, sound, and patriotic enough not to wage war against education and children?

  7. It would appear, Mr. Darrell, the worst happened. It heartens me to see a group like this confirming that not everyone in Texas is crazy, just the majority of the SBOE.