Today’s State Board of Education hearing on proposed new social studies standards for Texas public schools was long and often exhausting. (Scroll down to find our blog posts from the hearing.) But we noted some important progress for ensuring that our schoolchildren get an honest and sound education.

In particular, David Barton and Peter Marshall were in full retreat from their calls over the summer to remove Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall from the social studies standards. When questioned today by state board members, the two claimed they had never really wanted to blacklist the two famous civil rights leaders. Oh no, they simply thought that Chavez and Marshall had been misplaced in the standards. By suggesting that discussion of Chavez be moved elsewhere, for example, Barton even claimed he was trying to make room for more minorities. Marshall protested that he had only wanted to make sure that the two were discussed in their proper context.

All of that was misleading, of course. This is what Barton had said about Chavez last June:

“(Chavez’s) open affiliation with Saul Alinsky’s movements certainly makes dubious that he is a praiseworthy to be heralded to students as someone… Read More

David Barton is complaining about a bogus "war on Christmas" in proposed new social studies curriculum standards, but what about his "war on grammar"? And Barton has also complained that too many "insignificant" historial figures have been included in the standards, crowding out people he thinks are more important. So why is he proposing that students be required to study John Wayne, Cecil B. DeMille and Jimmy Stewart? Those are just a couple of the absurdities we found in Barton's review of the first draft of the proposed standards for Texas public schools. There are plenty of others. Read More

That seems a reasonable conclusion after reading David Barton’s review of the first draft of new social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools. He clearly hopes that Texans are gullible enough to buy the “war on Christmas” nonsense he and other far-right fanatics have been screaming about the last few years.

Barton’s review attacks curriculum writers for replacing Christmas with the Hindu and Buddhist festival of Diwali in a standard on significant holidays and religious observances in cultures around the world. We told you that a far-right pressure group on Friday was making the same cynical criticism. Barton writes in his review:

“To mention five religions and then mention five holidays ignores the Free-Market nature of America, even among religions. American is not evenly divided among these five religions. . . . The culture of America is not accurately reflected by pretending that all five religions have equal adherents.”

Barton assumes anyone who reads his criticism won’t know that he’s talking about curriculum standards for a course on world geography and cultures, not the United States. The list of religions and holidays isn’t supposed to “accurately reflect” American culture. It’s supposed to reflect the variety of… Read More

The so-called “expert” reviewers appointed by the Texas State Board of Education have turned over their written reviews of the first drafts of the new social studies curriculum standards. While we work through these reviews, let us know what you think about them, too. The reviews are here. The first drafts are here.

Among the things we have already noticed in the review from Peter Marshall, a right-wing evangelical minister from Massachusetts, are a variety of absurd suggestions and glaring historical inaccuracies:… Read More

Anything here sound familiar? A prominent religious leader is now attacking the study of social sciences, saying it "promotes doubts and uncertainty" and "secularism." A new development in the growing debate over social studies curriculum standards in Texas public schools? Well, not exactly. The religious leader noted above is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the "supreme leader" of Iran's theocratic government. According to a story in the New York Times, Khamenei and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are suggesting "that the study of secular topics and ideas has made universities incubators for the political unrest unleashed after the disputed presidential election in June." “Many of the humanities and liberal arts are based on philosophies whose foundations are materialism and disbelief in godly and Islamic teachings,” Ayatollah Khamenei said at a gathering of university students and professors on Sunday, according to IRNA, the state news agency. Teaching those “sciences leads to the loss of belief in godly and Islamic knowledge.” All of this comes as far-right ideologues helping guide the revision of social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools are insisting that students learn the United States is a Christian nation and that the Founders intended our society and laws to be based on the…… Read More