Donna Bahorich, chair of the State Board of Education, is missing a key problem in defending how new history textbooks in Texas public schools cover the experience of African Americans after the Civil War. By focusing just on the textbooks, she ignores how politicized curriculum standards adopted by the state board distort the teaching of history in Texas public schools. Read More
Ever since the tragedy in South Carolina on June 17, when a 21-year-old suspect motivated by white supremacist beliefs shot and killed nine African-American worshippers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, there has been a renewed attention on Confederate history and what caused the Civil War. We here at TFN have even received a number of press inquiries for our work in making sure Texas textbooks teach history accurately.
The thing is, there actually is no debating what caused the Civil War. It was slavery and the insistence of the Southern states to keep it.
Here, Colonel Ty Seidule, professor of history at the United States Military Academy at West Point, is out with a video that will make those who like to skew history to fit their agenda — looking at you, far-right members of the Texas State Board of Education — uncomfortable.
Since the murder of nine people at an African-American church in Charleston last month and the renewed controversy over the Confederate flag that followed, we’ve seen a slew of stories about what public school textbooks teach about the Civil War. Very early on, we got a call from the Washington Post on this question. While that reporter generally did a good job explaining the nuances of the controversy in Texas, we’ve seen quite a few stories from other media outlets that haven’t quite hit the mark. So let’s set the record straight on some key questions.
In the first place, why would anyone outside the state care what Texas textbooks say about anything?
Because of the huge size of the Texas market, publishers have typically written their textbooks to conform to curriculum standards in this state and then also sold those textbooks in other states around the country. Technology, publishing methods and other factors have somewhat lessened the influence of Texas, but that influence remains strong. That’s largely a consequence of the economics of publishing.
So what’s the problem with the Texas curriculum standards?
Publishers write their textbooks to conform to curriculum standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), that are adopted by the State Board… Read More
It looks like Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) members aren’t the only ones confused about the history of the old Confederacy during the American Civil War. Tea Party activists in New Mexico are defending the placement of a Confederate flag on a float in a Las Cruces parade marking the 100th anniversary of statehood there.
Jo Wall, secretary of the Las Cruces Tea Party, says the flag simply represented part of New Mexico’s history. The Confederate flag briefly flew over Santa Fe when rebel troops occupied that city as well as Albuquerque. From the Las Cruces Sun-News:
“The parade float was not intended for anything other than to show a spot in our history. We would never call attention to something that is distasteful to anyone,” said Wall, who argues against the notion that the Confederate flag is inherently offensive.
“I don’t see why anyone should have an objection to it. The Confederate flag was never meant to be racial. I know it’s been presented that way, but we don’t see it as racial,” Wall said.
Wall’s defense is as misleading as claims by Texas SBOE members in 2010 that the American Civil War was… Read More