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… Read More
The July/August issue of Church and State magazine from Americans United for Separation of Church and State has an excellent cover story about David Barton. Barton, you will recall, is the head of the Christian-right group WallBuilders, which argues that separation of church and state is a "myth" and that our laws and society overall should be based on Christian biblical principles (as interpreted by fundamentalists). Barton is also serving as a so-called "expert" guiding the revision of public school social studies curriculum standards in Texas (although he is absurdly unqualified, lacking even minimal academic credentials in the field). (See here and here.) Money quotes from the Church and State piece: Perhaps somewhat egotistically, Barton apparently likens himself to a biblical prophet who has been ordained by God to rebuild the religious foundations of the nation. Barton aims to do that by rediscovering an allegedly lost or suppressed Christian history of America. It’s an odd task for him, because although he poses as a historian, Barton isn’t one. . . . Read More
We reported in April that the creationist faction on the Texas State Board of Education was moving to pack a key "expert" review panel for the social studies curriculum revision with like-minded ideologues. (See here and here.) We now have the names of all the "expert" panelists. As with the science "expert" panel, it appears that the social studies panel will be evenly split between mainstream academics and ideologues aligned with the creationist faction. The three mainstream academics on the panel are Jesus Francisco de la Teja of Texas State University (appointed by SBOE members Rene Nunez, D-El Paso, and Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi), Jim Kracht of Texas A&M (appointed by Pat Hardy, R-Fort Worth, and Bob Craig, R-Lubbock), and Lybeth Hodges (appointed by Mavis Knight, D-Dallas, and Lawrence Allen, D-Houston). The three ideologues aligned with the board's creationist faction are David Barton (appointed by Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas, and Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio), the Rev. Peter Marshall (appointed by Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, and Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond), and Daniel Dreisbach (appointed by Terri Leo, R-Spring, and David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna). SBOE members Don McLeroy, R-College Station; Geraldine "Tincy" Miller, R-Dallas; and Rick Agosto, D-San Antonio, were unable to come to agreement on appointing a seventh panelist. Even a casual look at the vita for each of these "experts" makes clear grossly unequal qualifications. That examination also reveals the agenda of the board's creationist faction: use the social studies curriculum to promote a political argument against separation of church and state. So let's look at each of the so-called "experts" who will guide the revision of social studies standards for an entire generation of children in Texas public schools. Read More
David Barton is now complaining that folks who oppose his appointment by the Texas State Board of Education to a panel of social studies "experts" are doing so simply because he's a Christian and a conservative. We're not going to let him get away with that blatant mistruth. (Some might rightly call it a "lie.") We oppose Barton's appointment to the panel because he lacks the academic credentials to qualify by any stretch of the imagination as a social studies "expert." His personal religious beliefs are irrelevant, as is the faith of each individual appointed to the social studies panel. Barton's college degree is in religious education, not history or another field in the social sciences. He works for no institution of higher education. He's simply a smooth-talking political hack who distorts history in the service of an ideological agenda. Read More
On April 30 we reported that Texas State Board of Education members were appointing a social studies "expert" panel that includes unqualified ideologues who argue that the Constitution doesn't protect church-state separation and want U.S. laws and public policies to be based on the Bible. We've also seen signs that anti-Muslim bigotry could play a big role in the debate over what Texas students learn in their history, geography and other social studies classrooms. Now we have another sign. An Internet talk show hosted by David Barton, one of the new social studies panelists and head of the Christian-right advocacy group WallBuilders, will feature an interview with Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center on Tuesday, May 12. The show's title is "AIG Promoting Islam?" What's this all about? Read More