SBOE Chair Lowe’s Explanation for Dropping Jefferson from Standard Doesn’t Hold Water
TFN President Kathy Miller Points Out the Distorted History Promoted by Board Extremists
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2010
Texas State Board of Education chairwoman Gail Lowe’s explanation for the board’s deletion of Thomas Jefferson from world history curriculum standards is deeply disingenuous, the president of the Texas Freedom Network said today.
TFN President Kathy Miller was responding to a statement from Lowe released today by the Texas Education Agency. Lowe criticized media coverage of the board’s vote last week to strip Jefferson from a standard requiring students to study great political thinkers who influenced political revolutions from 1750 to the present. Lowe notes that Jefferson remains in American history and government standards. But that misses the point, Miller said.
“This isn’t a contest to see how many times someone is included in the standards,” Miller said. “The issue here is why the board would not want students to learn that people struggling for freedom around the world have looked for more than two centuries to Thomas Jefferson and his ideals for inspiration. This is yet another example of board members making decisions about things they clearly don’t know anything about instead of listening to teachers and scholars who do.”
Scholars have long noted Jefferson’s influence on political revolutionaries fighting for freedom in Europe and the Americas. The Library of Congress says this about Jefferson (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/jefferson/jeffworld.html):
“Recognized in Europe as the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson quickly became a focal point or lightning rod for revolutionaries in Europe and the Americas. . . . Until his death Jefferson was convinced that ‘this ball of liberty . . . will roll round the world’ aided by the beacon of the Declaration of Independence. . . . Thomas Jefferson often consulted with Lafayette during the drafting of this French declaration of rights in July 1789. Jefferson’s immersion in the French Revolution and his influence on the Republican leaders can be seen in the surviving documents.”
Miller noted that the board’s religious conservatives replaced Jefferson, who spoke of the “wall of separation” between church and state as critical to freedom, with references to theologians Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin.
The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of faith and community leaders who support public education, religious freedom and individual liberties.