TFN and the Textbook Wars Head to Tribeca!

We’re excited to tell you that the Texas Freedom Network’s fight against textbook censorship and efforts to politicize public education will be part of a new documentary film premiering this weekend at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. “The Revisionaries” explores how far-right radicals on the State Board of Education in Texas worked from 2008 to 2010 to undermine the teaching of evolution and rewrite history in a campaign to indoctrinate public school students with their ideological agenda.

Here’s a trailer for the new film:

The film will also be screened at the Dallas International Film Festival this Sunday (April 22), the Independent Film Festival in Boston on April 30 and the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto beginning on May 1. Click here for more information about the screenings, including dates and locations.

TFN President Kathy Miller will attend the screenings at Tribeca and in Dallas and will also take part in panel discussions about the film and how the radical right is trying to hijack public education in America.

Director Scott Thurman of Texas has worked on the film for nearly four years, throughout the State Board of Education’s controversial revisions of science (2008-09) and social studies (2009-10) curriculum standards. His film also features former state board chairman Don McLeroy, former board member Cynthia Dunbar, Professor Ron Wetherington from Southern Methodist University and other key players in the battles over the curriculum standards.

Even the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute has given low marks to both sets of standards, especially those for social studies. A Fordham report called the new standards for American history “a political distortion of history” with “misrepresentations at every turn.” Fordham criticized the science standards as “sketchy,” “redundant,” “riddled with errors,” and “woefully imbalanced.”

Because of the size of the Texas market, the state has a significant influence on what publishers put in the textbooks they sell across the country. Now new audiences will see how creationists and other right-wing pressure groups here are undermining public education beyond Texas as well.

3 thoughts on “TFN and the Textbook Wars Head to Tribeca!

  1. TFN and fellow folks. I dearly love you. However, I must protest this. I just absolutely must. It makes me angry. What is it that makes me so angry? It reminds me of an angry Sunday afternoon that I spent about 7 years ago reviewing the availability of documentary films on issues of the day.

    What did I learn? One thing I learned is that almost no one in the general population ever gets to see a documentary film like this. It will be shown at a few film festivals for sure—where the content of the film will be preached to an audience that consists almost entirely of the already wholly agreed elite film afficionado choir. It might then be released to a few odd theaters here and there—pitifully few would be interested. It might get one run on PBS—if it is lucky—again preaching to the educated choir.

    What is the next step? This is the one that really urinates me off!!! It will go up for sale to the general public on the Internet, and the people who made the film will be asking $300.00 per copy for it. I am sure the interested average citizen who really NEEDS to see it can afford that price!!!! Can you hear my sarcasm screaming!!!???

    Then comes the filmmaker whine:

    “You don’t understand how much it costs to make a documentary film like this!!!” It costs a lot, and we go into doing most of them knowing it is going to be a losing proposition financially—but we do it anyway for the art of film making. How can you blame us for trying to recover a few bucks when we figure that at least a few civic and public service organizations will buy a copy at our high price of $300.00 per copy?”

    I can blame you, and I do blame you, because you do not understand the society-changing value of your own art. You make a film that has the power to educate 300,000,000 people about a very serious issue, pawn a few videos on the Internet for $300.00 each, and then the film disappears forever into a black hole—and no one ever sees it or hears anything about it again—forever. Is that smart? No, that is just plain stupid, just plain wasteful, and a total abandonment of social responsibility to your follow man.

    Are you people totally stupid???!!! There are millions of people, myself included, who would gladly pay $10.00 each for a DVD of this film—myself included. You could far outsell the grand total for that $300.00-each idiocy—and it would not take a vast and expensive marketing and advertising campaign to do it.

    You know what I think you will do? Nothing!!! The next thing on your mind will be, “My next artful film project beckons. I have to leave this behind now and move on.”

    Be useful in life for once dammit!!! Listen to me and do something powerful to get your film in the hands of the most people possible.

  2. I meant that. There is no excuse for wasting that kind of opportunity and the talent to tell a story that needs to be told to 300,000,000 people.

    1. Charles,
      We didn’t produce the film — in fact, we had nothing to do with it except for doing interviews and providing information when requested by the director. The film has been an independent project funded entirely by the director and his producers. As we understand it, they are working to get wide distribution for the film, but we don’t know details on that. Obviously, we’re hoping for the widest distribution possible.