The List of Shame in Texas

So how badly has the State Board of Education botched the job of revising social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools? It would be hard to overstate the disaster that has unfolded in Austin. And this won’t affect just Texas schoolchildren. Unlike Vegas, what happens in Texas doesn’t stay in Texas when it comes to textbooks. Texas buys so many textbooks that publishers write their books to meet this state’s standards and then sell those same books to schools across the country.

(See Why We Fight.)

So what happened? Over just a few days in January and this month, the state board shredded nearly a year’s worth of detailed work by teachers, scholars and other curriculum writers. In vote after vote, board members made numerous and outrageously foolish, intolerant and ignorant changes based on little more than their own (limited) knowledge and personal beliefs.

The problem isn’t simply that many changes were wrong factually.  Teachers will surely despair as they read through the numerous names, dates and events board members added willy-nilly to the standards with little consideration of how in the world to cram all of those facts into the limited instructional time available for classes.

In addition to that, poor scholarship — if scholarship is a word that can be used to describe any “research” done by this board — was particularly evident during the debate. On more than one occasion, board members simply resorted to Internet searches from laptops at their desks. They invited no historians, economists, sociologists or even classroom teachers to guide them as they rewrote history (and standards for government, economics, sociology and other social studies courses) with scores of ill-considered, politically motivated amendments. In fact, board members had explicitly rejected a proposal in November that they invite such experts to be on hand during the debate. They simply didn’t want to be bothered with facts and real scholarship as they moved to transform a curriculum document into a political manifesto.

The board will have one more opportunity to consider (and amend) the standards in May. Then teachers and students will be saddled with these standards for the next decade.

The following List of Shame is a summary of some of the worst examples from what is truly a debacle for public education:

  • Religious conservatives on the board killed a proposed standard that would have required high school government students to “examine the reasons the Founding Fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others.” That means the board rejected teaching students about the most fundamental constitutional protection for religious freedom in America. (3/11/10)
  • Even as board members continued to demand that students learn about “American exceptionalism,” they stripped Thomas Jefferson from a world history standard about the influence of Enlightenment thinkers on political revolutions from the 1700s to today. In Jefferson’s place, the board’s religious conservatives inserted Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin. They also removed the reference to “Enlightenment ideas” from the standard, requiring that students simply learn about the “writings” of various thinkers (including Calvin and Aquinas). (3/11/10)
  • Board conservatives succeeded in censoring the word “capitalism” in the standards, requiring that the term for that economic system be called “free enterprise” throughout all social studies courses. Board members such as Terri Leo and Ken Mercer charged that “capitalism” is a negative term used by “liberal professors in academia.” (3/11/10)
  • The board removed the concepts of “justice” and “responsibility for the common good” from a list of characteristics of good citizenship for Grades 1-3. (The proposal to remove “equality” failed.) (1/14/10)

  • Social conservatives on the board removed Santa Barraza from a Grade 7 Texas history standard on Texans who have made contributions to the arts because they objected to one of her (many) paintings — one including a depiction of a woman’s exposed breasts. Yet some of Barraza’s works had been displayed in the Texas Governor’s Mansion during the gubernatorial administration of George W. Bush in the 1990s. (3/11/10)
  • The board stripped Dolores Huerta, cofounder of United Farm Workers of America, from a Grade 3 list of “historical and contemporary figures who have exemplified good citizenship.” Conservative board members said Huerta is not a good role model for third-graders because she’s a socialist. But they did not remove Hellen Keller from the same standard even though Keller was a staunch socialist. Don McLeroy, a conservative board member who voted to remove Huerta, had earlier added W.E.B. DuBois so the Grade 2 standards. McLeroy apparently didn’t know that DuBois had joined the Communist Party in the year before he died. (1/14/10)
  • In an absurd attempt to excuse Joseph McCarthy’s outrageous witchhunts in the 1950s, far-right board members succeeded in adding a requirement that students learn about “communist infiltration in U.S. government” during the Cold War. (Board member Don McLeroy has even claimed outright that Joseph McCarthy has been “vindicated,” a contention not supported by mainstream scholarship.) (1/15/10)
  • The board voted in January to remove children’s book author Bill Martin Jr. from a Grade 3 standard about significant writers and artists because members confused the author of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? with another Bill Martin who had written a book about Marxism. An embarrassed board reinserted Martin into the Grade 3 standards in March. (3/11/10)
  • Board members added Friedrich von Hayek to a standard in the high school economics course even though some board members acknowledged that they had no idea who the Austrian-born economist even was. (3/11/10)
  • The board added a requirement that American history students learn about conservative heroes and icons such as Phyllis Schlafly, the Heritage Foundation and the Moral Majority. The board included no similar standard requiring students to learn about individuals and organizations simply because they are liberal. (1/15/10)
  • Board conservatives passed a standard for the eighth-grade U.S. history class requiring students to learn about the ideas in Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address as president of the Confederacy during the Civil War. (1/14/10)
  • In a high school government standard about “the importance of the expression of different points of view in a democratic republic,” the board added a requirement that students learn about the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. (3/11/10)
  • The board’s bloc of social conservatives tried to water down instruction on the history of the civil rights movement. One board amendment, for example, would have required students to learn that the civil rights movement created “unreasonable expectations for equal outcomes.” That failed to pass. Other amendments passed in January minimized the decades of struggle by women and ethnic minorities to gain equal and civil rights. (Board member Don McLeroy even claimed that women and minorities owed thanks to men and “the majority” for their rights. Earlier in the revision process, a conservative appointed by McLeroy to a curriculum team had complained about an “over-representation of minorities” in the standards.) Under pressure from civil rights groups, the board partially reversed those earlier amendments. (3/11/10)
  • The board’s right-wing faction removed references to “democratic” (or “representative democracy”) when discussing the U.S. form of government. The board’s majority Republicans changed those references to “constitutional republic.” Board member Cynthia Dunbar also won approval for changing references to “democratic societies” to “societies with representative government.” (3/11/10)
  • Religious conservatives stripped from the high school sociology course a standard having students “differentiate between sex and gender as social constructs and determine how gender and socialization interact.” Board member Barbara Cargill argued that the standard would lead students to learn about “transexuals, transvestites and who knows what else.” She told board members she had conducted a “Google search” to support her argument. Board member Ken Mercer complained that the amendment was about “sex.” The board consulted no sociologists during the debate. (3/11/10)
  • Board member Barbara Cargill proposed a standard to the high school economics course requiring students to “analyze the decline in the value of the U.S. dollar since the inception of the Federal Reserve System since 1913.” After debate, the board passed a revised standard that requires students to “analyze the decline in the value of the U.S. dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard.” References to 1913 and the Federal Reserve System were dropped. The board consulted no economists during the debate. (3/11/10)
  • The board approved a standard requiring students to learn about “any unintended consequences” of the Great Society, affirmative action and Title IX. (3/11/10)
  • In a high school U.S. history standard on musical genres that have been popular over time, the board’s bloc of social conservatives removed “hip hop,” equating this broad genre with “gangsta rap.” (3/11/10)
  • The board voted to use “BC” and “AD” rather than “BCE” and “CE” in references to dates in the history classes. That means students going off to college won’t be familiar with what has become an increasingly common standard for dates. (3/10/10)
  • The board removed Oscar Romero, a prominent Roman Catholic archbishop who was assassinated in 1980 (as he was celebrating Mass) by rightists in El Salvador, from a world history standard about leaders who led resistance to political oppression. Romero, they argued, wasn’t of the same stature as others listed in the standards: Nelson Mandela and Mohandas Gandhi. One board member argued that “he didn’t have his own movie like the others.” He quickly reversed himself — the film Romero, based on the archbishop’s life, was released in 1989 and starred actor Raul Julia in the title role. (3/10/10)
  • The board’s right-wing faction removed a reference to propaganda as a factor in U.S. entry into World War I. (The role of propaganda on behalf of both the Allies and Central Powers in swaying public opinion in the United States is well-documented. Republican Pat Hardy noted that her fellow board members were “rewriting history” with that and similar changes.) (1/15/10)
  • The board changed a “imperialism” to “expansionism” in a U.S. history course standard about American acquisition of overseas territories in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Board conservatives argued that what the United States did at the time was not the same as European imperialism. (1/15/10)

97 thoughts on “The List of Shame in Texas

  1. Wasn’t the gold standard dropped in 1935? Did the dollar decline clear through the 50’s and 60’s? These folks are lunatics!

  2. Although I seem to be inured to the garden variety of stupid that passes for political discourse, I am floored that someone actually chooses to base their evaluation on the criterion of whether someone had a freaking movie made about them. I’ve read these reports since TFN noted that rampant absurdity and for the life of me, my mind shuts down reading that.

  3. I wouldn’t change MY textbook to reflect Texas BOE’s whims. No author should. What if Texas can’t find a textbook with their brand of bull? If you ever needed an example of ludicrous, try “SBOE.” The state legislature needs to consider some serious changes to the way Texas “works.” Abolish the Texas SBOE; send the members home. Put together a consortium of University professors from around the state. Teach what the kids NEED to succeed, not just what the fits the zealots’ capricious and bigoted billing.

  4. It’s not so much that we need national standards (although I do support them), it’s that educators, scientists, historians, and other qualified professionals need to be setting the standards. A state board of education should facilitate this, not hinder it or – as is the case here – actively work against it.

  5. What would Thomas Paine do? I can visualize a pamphlet, a compendium of essays written by experts, covering all the people and ideas that may be omitted in the final proceedings. It could be made available on-line. Thinking something along the lines of a supplemental guide for all those who may wonder about subjects that have been been censored. Nothing retaliatory, just solid scholarship.

    As to the list above, I am grateful for the work that TFN does. Tedious, thoughtful and necessary, thanks.

  6. Okay. A lot of hot air has been exhaled here over the last few days. I am sure everyone feels better as a result, and the radical right is labeling it all of as a liberal whinefest. They no doubt believe—falsely—that Jesus has delivered them some sort of great victory when—in fact—the Lord of Darkness has delivered to them only an illusion of victory. The time for talking is over. What are we going to DO about it?


    Would you please deliver to me a list of the major nationwide textbook publishers that serve the state of Texas? I plan to get the name of the CEO at each one and write them a certified letter stating that they had better not even think about selling Texas curriculum-based textbooks in my state. I plan to copy that letter to the state education agency in my state, all of the local school boards, and to my state political leaders. The revolution begins NOW.

  7. “I’ve read these reports since TFN noted that rampant absurdity and for the life of me, my mind shuts down reading that.”

    Imagine how the kids are gonna feel. You’re right, though. I’d never believe this was happening if I didn’t see it with my own eyes.

  8. What’s wrong with teaching them about von Hayek? He won a Nobel Prize in Economics, its not as if he is some quack like Robert Kiyosaki or other late night hucksters.

    Also, funny that the another poster has such little understanding of Economics that they didnt understand the connection between the end of the gold standard and the decline of the dollar in the 50’s and 60’s. Ironically, they would have, if only they had read some von Hayek.

    I agree, the majority of that list is crazy stuff, but those two seem perfectly fine to me.

  9. What’s also pitiful about all of this is the arrogant idiocy with which the SBOE thinks they can control the flow of information to students in order to turn them into obedient little conservobots. In reality, that same internet that the wingnut faction used to cherry-pick their ideologically friendly falsehoods can also be used by any student to find out all the information they’re suppressing for being politically inconvenient. Also, I challenge any teacher appalled by this to recognize: YOU run your classroom. If the “standards” are providing proper facts to your kids, you still can! If I were a teacher, I wouldn’t rely on any textbooks at all this board provided. I’d put together my own curriculum, thank you.

  10. @Martin:
    Typically teachers are required to teach from the textbook, and teach to the test based on the textbook.
    In some cases they are even forbidden from teaching from other materials.

  11. I’m a Texas teacher, (althought not social studies) and I am hoping an adhoc group of social studies teachers can form a new association dedicated to teaching social studies regardless of what the state of Texas is demanding. Perhaps there could be a fairly decent outline of the new curriculum showing where it departs from actual history and a number of lesson plans for these sections, along with a place for virtual exchange of information about how to deal with being asked to teach fiction as fact.

    If Thomas Jefferson has been removed from the curriculum I have a hard time believing any social studies teacher with any degree of decency will voluntarily stop teaching about history.

  12. To CL Says

    I can only speak for Texas, where I teach. I can teach any thing I want unless my own department head at the school stops me. I use the worksheets I want, from whereever I want them. I guide the discussions and debates the way I want.

    The real problem for the kids being taught this social studies curriculum is that if teachers refuse to teach the bs the students may do more poorly on their TAKS exam, which really could hurt the student. Maybe a teacher could teach that there is one part of history that everone agrees on, and then another part of history, that you will see on your TAKS test, and this is how you can deal with that.

  13. When this same board was controlled by liberals the opposite occurred. When I was in school teachers did not express their views and attempted to present both sides of any issue. That is not the case today. History and government classes should be taught in such a way that students can make up their own minds about issues. Some of the possitions taken by the board appear to be absurd but then the complaint about teaching about the second amendment is absurd. There shouldn’t be any issue about teaching about any part of the constitution.

    1. David,
      “Liberals” have not controlled the State Board of Education in Texas, even when Democrats were in the majority. And most teachers today are scared to death of expressing their personal views in the classroom — especially if it’s a liberal view. That’s a fast way to get fired. The suggestion by the state board’s far-right members that Texas teachers are a bunch of radical leftists who want to undermine Christianity is a vicious, baseless smear. And finally, cramming a discussion of the right to bear arms into a standard on the importance of freedom of expression in a democratic society is just another example of the fetishism that dominates the far right. The right to bear arms doesn’t have to dominate unrelated sections of the standards. It doesn’t have to be worshipped at every opportunity, regardless of other topics of discussion. It’s no more important than any of the other freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights — but you would think it outranks all others after listening to the extremists who dominate the State Board of Education. As we’ve said before, what should be a curriculum document is looking more and more like a political manifesto.

  14. Igorthesmall, the problem is that Von Hayek is being included because of ideological beliefs in order to indoctrinate, rather than just presenting the facts in context, as objectively as possible.

    What the Texas SBOE has done is to use Conservapedia as a template for altering the curricula.

  15. David,

    In the final analysis, I think the radical right members of the Texas SBOE believe that anyone who does not believe exactly as they do (regardless of degree or shading on some spectrum) is a liberal who threatens the future of the United States. I think there is a borrowed degree of the old One Drop Rule at work here too. For example, if I want to bomb Iran tonight on the one hand, but on the other hand I would like to use a few tax dollars to help a homeless person, the bomb Iran part does not matter. I am ALL liberal and ALL bad simply because I want to help a homeless person. Finally, I think these people have a gun fetish because they really believe—deep down inside—maybe in a place they are not fully in touch with yet—in the final analysis—the only way to deal with those they deem as dangerous liberals is going to be to shoot us with said guns. They will be extremely successful with me because I do not own a gun.

  16. Charles, you’ve nailed it. Anyone who isn’t as far to the right as they are is a “liberal.”

  17. TFN and others,

    Here in California if you are a non liberal teacher you must be afraid to express an opinion to your fellow teachers. You will be at risk of loosing your job if you don’t have tenure. Teaching should be even handed and teach the facts not an opinion and teachers shouldn’t down grade students for having an opinion that differs from the teacher. And you can’t claim that doesn’t occur because it does, I have seen it.

    My point about the 2nd amendment is that all parts of the constitution should be taught. None should be excluded.

    Charles, You are making arguments about things that I did not discuss or make points about. Furthermore I was neither defending nor disparaging the actions of the BOE.

    My main point was teaching needs to be even handed and present various viewpoints without bias. Otherwise it is not teaching but an attempt to brainwash.

    1. David,
      The standards draft the board was considering last week did cover all parts of the Constitution. But there’s a faction of the board that has fetishized the Second Amendment, setting the right to bear arms on a special pedestal. A discussion of the right to bear arms had no place at all in the particular standard the board revised.

  18. RE: trog69, I am apparently one of the few people who have actually read Hayek on this list. It is important to note that in the first chapter of The Road to Serfdom, Hayek takes steps to distance himself from philosophical and social conservativism,which he correctly points out, is based on “mysticism” and had no positive philosophy of it’s own. Our enemies are not the free market or capitalism, but the religiously motivated social conservativism that is in control of the school board. Judging by the board’s actions, they are opposed to, or at least ashamed of, freedom and capitalism themselves. This is just what Hayek would have predicted.

    Incidentally, von Hayek, along with John Maynard Keynes, were the subject of an excellent PBS documentary entitled “Commanding Heights.” I concur that von Hayek is an extremely important figure in the field of economics, as well as philosophy.

  19. The conservatives oppose the words of Jesus Christ when he said in Matthew 12, “Render unto Caesar (the state) that which is Caesar’s, and unto God (the Church) that which is God’s”. Even Jesus Christ supported the separation of Church and State. How much of the Bible would we have if these clowns on the SBOE were in charge when the Bible was being organized? The best thing that could happen would be the textbooks to ignore the SBOE and write the textbooks for the rest of the country, and for Texas to choose from them. The conservatives have shortchanged our students before. Liberals write the TRUTH, because as a country we learn from our mistakes and grow as a country. Conservatives censor all the bad. That’s why we will have textbooks again that has only 2 pages of the Vietnam War (with out Kent State shooting, MiLai massacre, Cambodian invasion, Pentagon Papers, etc). and only one paragraph of the Watergate scandal. Knowledge and Truth are works of God, ignorance and misinformation are works of Satan.

  20. Where’s Anderson Cooper while all of this crap is going on? This deserves some nationwide publicity apart from just print media?

  21. Jason, your superior erudition doesn’t seem to extend to what I wrote. I said nothing about Hayek, but rather point to why SBOE chose as it did. They have been shown to make amendments without any grasp of the subject they expound upon.

  22. This is the ultimate form of mind control. The SBOE only lets you learn what THEY want you to know. Someone needs to write a book for students about what the SBOE doesn’t want them to know!

  23. Displaced Texan:

    I have actually thought about that some. Here in my area, we do not have a Texas SBOE. However, if we ever were to have one, I have thought about organizing private, low-cost evening and weekend seminar sets for K-12 students on evolution and all of the social studies content that the kids will be missing in public school. It would probably be fairly easy to find volunteers to teach it. I would even volunteer for the social studies part. In fact, it could be made interesting and alot more fun than regular school.

    It would have no effect on the children of the Christian fundamentalist students because they would consume the revisionist pablum in school. If they want to choose to be dumb as a fencepost and pass that dumbness on to their children, then so be it.
    However, the kids who are not Christian fundamentalists would be able to receive the well-rounded education that they deserve. Even more so, it might be possible to develop homeschool or on-line minicourses in social studies, evolution, etc. so the kids could learn the CENSORED information along those routes.

    After all, the goal of the Texas SBOE is NOT to make Christian fundamentalist neocon robots out of their children. Their children are already far down that road. Their goal is to grab YOUR innocent bystander child and turn them into some sick hybridized version of John Hagee and Tom DeLay. In tribute to Peter Graves, “Your goal, should you accept it, is to prevent this from occurring.”

  24. Warning to TFN and Others:

    Nutty is about to turn even nuttier. The fruitcakes are on the march here in March. Reverend Dr. Bruce Prescott over at the Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists blog has issued a warning about the recent re-emergence of Ralph Reed onto the national scene. The boys down at the fruitcake bakery have another big plan up their sleeves—coming to a community or state near you:

  25. All state funded education is indoctrination. I affiliate somewhat with the “Religious Right”, however I understand the contentions made in this article. The thing to bear in mind is that the word “education” is left undefined. It is my conclusion that education is teaching people how to think (not what to think as does the state education). I would also like to point out that liberals and conservatives are both equally guilty of providing their own version of history. Also, is it not the right of the people of Texas to set their own standards? It is ultimately irrelevant whether the textbooks used in public schools are right or left leaning, no public institution (using the current industrial model) will ever be able to achieve true education (teaching how to think). Doing that takes careful mentoring by others, something that can be achieved with private tutoring or homeschooling. Also note this problem carries over even more into higher education (see my post

  26. Knightofrook:

    The Japanese bombed the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941.

    Is that liberal history or conservative history? The Texas SBOE no doubt thinks I’m a flaming dog liberal. That’s some of my liberal history. Want so more liberal history?

    Lee surrendered to Grant at the Appomattox courthouse.

    Edith Wilson took over many of the presidential duties of her husband while he was sick.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. was a black man.

    John Adams was the first president to occupy the White House, which was to some degree still under construction at the time.

    Yep!!! Doggone that liberal history. It’s gonna be the downfall of our country.

    But wait—let’s do some homeschool-style, conservative, Religious Right American history:

    A legendary figure of the American Revolutionary War, servant of the Lord Molly Pitcher was most likely Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley, a resident of Pennsylvania who, in 1822, who by the permissive will of Jesus himself, was awarded an annuity by the Pennsylvania assembly for her service during the fight for independence against the British forces of darkness led by Satan and the demon Grooeypan. There are many versions of her heroic Christian service during the Battle of Monmouth on 28 June 1778, but the most common is that Mary gave spiritual and physical help to the American troops to help fend off the British troops (who were actually low-rank demons in disguise), first by bringing specially blessed and fortified holy water to the revolutionaries to make them impervious to British miniballs during the battle (earning her the nickname “Molly Pitcher”), then by manning a cannon after her soldier husband succumbed to either the heat or a battle wound (if he had been a “true” Christian this would not have happened). After the battle, General George Washington and a legion of invisible angels showed up and personally awarded her a commission as a sergeant (other versions say captain or major). While Molly’s assistance was helpful on that day and she was used by the Lord as a matter of momentary convenience, it was really wrong for a woman to have been on that battlefield or any other battlefield that day. This much displeased the Lord and his displeasure may have played a part in the Lord’s failure to protect her husabnd from being wounded during the battle.

    It’s gonna be a cold day in Hell when you get to teach tripe like that to my kid in a public school!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. I’m told that McLeroy was just interviewed on KPCC, Southern California Public Radio, and said that the three branches of U.S. government were modeled on the Trinity. I can’t find an audio. Here’s the program page:

  28. It looks as if the biblical literalists on the TSBOE are going for the scorched-earth policy because they know they have lost their majority in the primaries, and it is likely to be eroded further in November. David “Critical thinking is gobbledegook” Bradley has been quoted as saying words to the effect that they won’t be in the majority by the next time TEKs are reviewed.

  29. Charles:

    Neither example you gave should be the kind of history you should want your kids to learn. The first example doesn’t teach them how to think analytically (true education), and the second is teaching to think in a way contrary to your worldview (just as bad). Both are damaging your children in the long run.

  30. “The first example doesn’t teach them how to think analytically (true education)”

    All Charles did was point out facts. How were you able to deduce anything “analytically” from that? Or are you inferring that Charles thinks that that’s all the students need-facts? That’s quite a leap of faith, unless you know Charles’ thoughts on this.

    Well, you did give fair warning, I guess.

  31. And what “worldview” would that be?

    Ben. I bet you would really enjoy talking to this “knightofrook” guy. You guys have fun. I have no time for nonsense.

  32. Charles: Why would you bring Christianity into this issue? TFN’s first item on the list starts out by stating the “religious conservatives” with a link to the article they wrote on the vote. When you read the link there is no reference to the “religious conservatives”. They, in TFN’s own words, stated they voted along party lines on this issue not on “religious” right or left.

    To assume that someone’s party line dictates if they are Christian or not is absurd. To assume that all Christians lean to the right is just as absurd. There will be extremists in every faction of people.

    I am a Christian. I love my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I don’t agree with everything that the Board has put forth. So, please don’t disrespect my beliefs by patronizing it.

  33. So many written complaints….where is everybody when it comes election time ????? That is how you beat these ignoramases (sp). That’s how they came to power. The off year electioons are coming, get out now and turn the tables on them.

  34. Charles and knightofrook:

    You both seem to be forgetting that Barack Obama is a terrorist and a hip-hop jamming gang banger, which is why Texas should secede from the Union since all of America has gone crazy. Did you all know that going to college makes you both dumber and liberal? (ref: Fox News segment ). So who cares if CE isn’t used, these kids shouldn’t be going to college anyway – its only going to fill their heads with all that liberal information hocus pocus like math and science. Farther down the rabbit hole we go. Soon, the apocalypse will come (God willing), when technology is destroyed and all of civilization will be forced to revert to religion as they’re only explanation for plagues and fire, praise be to the Savior. Who needs facts when you can just ignore them for now in favor of what you already “know.” Lets make sure our children aren’t exposed to such dirty ideas as equality or democracy. Capitalism has been corrupted by them liberals, so lets make sure we call it something else too. Did you know that liberals can cause global warming with butt gas? They’re powerful, but fear not, for God will smite them… just like he did Thomas Jefferson (whose role in writing the Constitution was minimal at best anyway).

  35. Yarral Nahguav: The problem is that Texas is >50% ignoramus and the percentage is growing. I want to get a laugh out of this can of Texas SBOmisE worms…WHERE ARE YOU SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE!!??

  36. ProudJap. Are you a member of the Arakawa family? Never mind. Don’t answer that. If you think religion has nothing to do with the way the conservative bloc on the Texas SBOE thinks and operates, you ain’t been listening to the discussion. Please go read some of the other TFN Insider threads and report back. By the way, I am a Christian too.

    Trake2782: Yep.

    Yes. Where is Saturday Night Live when you really need them? If John Belushi were still alive, he could tell us about how the Texas SBOE needs to implement a manly, manful social studies curriculum—made up by real men for men and chocked full of robust manfulness.

  37. Charles:

    I am glad to hear you are a Christian too. The Bible says we should pray for one another so I shall pray for you and your loved ones. I pray that God’s blessings and grace will be with you always. May the love of Jesus grow strong in your heart. May you be a light of truth for all who are around you.

    Though we may have differing thoughts, I would love to have the opportunity of meeting you and welcoming you in my home. As a teacher, I have taught my kids to always look at both sides before making a judgment on an issue. I also teach not to judge a person by their actions or words. I will follow your suggestion and take note of the other TFN Insider threads.

    And as for my namesake — my father is Caucasian, my mother Japanese. Born and raised in Japan, educated by American DOD schools as my father worked for the U.S. military. I am very proud of my Japanese heritage but since my husband is a blue-eyed blond, I’ve never had the opportunity to have a Japanese surname. Hence, the namesake.

  38. I just thought you might be an Arakawa—famous scientific family in my neck of the woods. The father and mother were both Japanese Americans (Hawaii), I believe interned during World War II. They were Southern Baptists and their numerous children and grandchildren are assorted Southern Baptists, Methodists, and whatever else.

    Dad Arakawa was a personal friend of Carl Sagan, and they did joint research on the atmospheric content of Titan, which is Saturn’s largest moon. I had the dubious pleasure of playing trivial pursuit with the daddy Ed one night about 20 years ago. I beat his socks off, and he could not understand why an anthropologist could beat an internationally known chemist/physicist. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he was just not watching eough Jeopardy contests on T.V. In any event, all of the Arakawa’s are fine people. Every time I get into my Honda van, I am amazed at Japanese accomplishments, and I always say, “And you know what? Great though they may be, I bet our Japs are even better than their Japs.”

  39. Charles, I live in a mid-sized farm town. Many of our early farmers were Japanese and were also interned. Some came back and were able to continue to farm thanks to friends who kept an eye out for them during the internment. War brings out the darkness as well as the kindness in people.

    I will agree with you on this, I’ve been on both sides of the ocean and I prefer this side over the other side. There is so much diversity in this country and yet we seem to be able to coexist in a peaceable manner. Just pray that our diversity will be our strong point and that our freedom to voice are opinions are not taken from us.

    Bless you.

  40. I agree – inclusion of Hayek is actually one of the few bright spots of this curriculum referandum. Otherwise I oppose most of it. I’m not saying Hayek should be taught exclusive of other prominent economists, but he does deserve to be discussed alongside Friedman and Keynes. I had never heard of him (BSBA from Villanova University, no I’m not a Catholic). We only covered Friedman and Keynes in hs through college. We actually got to read “And Justice For All” – the bishops treatise on global economic justice. Nothing like mixing your religion and economics for a good sound basis. A friend of mine posted a funny clip about Hayek vs Keynes. I actually identify more with Hayek than Friedman. I’m of the opinion that schools should be as inclusive as possible of all information. We certainly learned of Jefferson Davis and what he meant to the confederacy, and I was educated in a NJ public school. There is no need not to discuss any part of our history. I would be displeased if Jefferson Davis was given more weight than Lincoln, or if the Confederacy was shown from a more sympathetic and less objective point of view. The point is to teach as objectively as humanly possible, and let parents and children shape their own values.

    I even have no problem with the teaching of religion in public schools – religion exists. I’m an atheist and will still expose my children to various religions as means of understanding the differences, although not for the purpose of indoctrination. I think it is disgraceful we have so little religion taught in our schools, Americans are religiously illiterate. If religion is taught, it is the bare surface, or it is one specific religion in parochial school. It’s not a problem of teaching about religion in schools, it is how it is taught, and how it is weighted. All religions should be weighted equally, and covered objectively. We simply are not good at objective education. (No, I’m not an Ayn Rand follower either).

    I seek rational yet compassionate education for my children. They attend a private Montessori school now. I want them to be literate. I don’t consider any knowledge off limits. It’s all better than being ignorant. Whatever exposure they have is good, and we’ll cover the balance. My opposition to this text book shenanigans is the re-writing of history and the complete loss of objectivity. Obviously the demotion of Jefferson is particularly appalling to me personally. Not to mention “Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See” as THIRD grade curriculum? Seriously, 3rd grade? My KG is past that now. At best that is 1st grade!

    1. We think what was particularly interesting about the addition of Hayek to the standards was that many state board members really didn’t have a clue who he was.

  41. Sherri wrote: “Americans are religiously illiterate.” Sherri, with due respect, please speak for yourself.

    In theory, I have no problem with the teaching about religion in schools either. In fact, wasn’t it Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins (both British authors and atheists) who said that religion (or Bible) should be taught in public schools inasmuch as religion is an integral part of Western Civilization. Whichever gentleman said that, he has a point.

    Problem is that the U.S. is so hyperpolitical and hyper-religious, I trust no teacher to teach religion objectively. So many TX teachers are evangelical or fundamentalist Christians that it’s hard to imagine one teaching about religion without surrendering to the irresistible opportunity of having a young impressionable captive audience to indoctrinate. There is a difference between teaching religion and teaching about religion.

    A prepared curriculum and textbook are little help. In fact, secular reviews have found the current religion textbooks lacking in objectivity. And there’s no way to guard against non-previewed Christian-friendly supplemental materials being be distributed.

  42. @Coragyps The gold standard was dropped in 71 when we went to a fiat currency. Perhaps you were thinking of the fact that it had been enmassing issues from the late 20s onward.

  43. Below is a summary (ex Wikipedia) of the main points of Thomas Aquinas “Summa Theologica.” Aquinas replaces Jefferson in importance in Texas Social Sciences. (Read and be appalled):

    Theology is the greatest and most certain of all the sciences, since its source is from divine knowledge, which cannot be deceived, and because of the higher worth of its subject-matter, the sublimity of which transcends human reason.
    When a man knows an effect, and knows that it has a cause, the natural desire of the intellect or mind is to understand the essence of that thing, natural because this understanding results from the perfection of the operation of the intellect or mind.
    The existence of something and its essence are separate (that is, its being and the conception of being man has or can imagine of it [for example, a mountain of solid gold would have essence, since it can be imagined, but not existence, as it is not in the world]) in all things except for God, who is simple.
    The existence of God, his total simplicity or lack of composition, his eternal nature (“eternal,” in this case, means that he is altogether outside of time; that is, time is held to be a part of God’s created universe), his knowledge, the way his will operates, and his power can all be proved by human reasoning alone.
    All statements about God are either analogical or metaphorical; one cannot say man is “good” in exactly the same sense as God, but rather that he imitates in some way the simple nature of God in being good, just or wise.
    Unbelief is the greatest (meaning largest in scope) sin in the realm of morals.
    The principles of just war and natural law.
    The greatest happiness of all, the ultimate good, consists in the beatific vision.
    Taking interest on loans is forbidden, because it is charging people twice for the same thing.
    In and of itself, selling a thing for more or less than it is worth is unlawful (the just price theory).
    The contemplative life is greater than the active life, but greater still is the contemplative life that sometimes takes actions to call others to the contemplative life and give them the fruits of contemplation. (This actually was the lifestyle of the Dominican friars, of which Aquinas was a member.)
    Being a monk is greater than being married and even greater in many ways than being a priest, but it is not as good as being a bishop. Both monks and bishops are in a state of perfection.
    Although the Jews delivered Christ to die, it was the Gentiles who killed him, foreshadowing how salvation would start with the Jews and then would spread to the Gentiles.
    After the end of the world, in which all living material will be destroyed, the world will be composed of non-living matter (such as rocks), but it will be illuminated or enhanced in beauty by the fires of the apocalypse (but a new heaven and new earth will be established).
    Martyrs, teachers of the faith (doctors), and virgins, in that order, receive special crowns in heaven for their achievements.

  44. Where are you SNL? Michael Moore: here is some fabulous documentary film material. Bill Maher: Please, we need your humor now….Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, where are you? Let’s laugh the SBOE out of existence!

  45. As a social studies teacher in Texas, I was shocked and angry about the revisions to the social studies curriculum standards by members of the State Board of Education. Board members made changes based on their personal beliefs and limited knowledge. Teachers, college professors and experts on the subject were not consulted by the board. Texans would not want someone who is not a dentist making decisions about dentistry. We should not have board members who do not have knowledge of social studies making important decisions about what our students read in text books!

  46. I think too much is made of what the SBOE does. The standards they create are minimum standards. Good teachers will go way beyond the minimum. Unfortunately, really bad ones may also go beyond the minimum, but in an inappropriate way. One of the keys to saving education has nothing to do with the SBOE standards; it is to tighten up standards for becoming a teacher. This would extend to administrators, too. There is no way for the SBOE to police teachers who fail to adhere to their narrow view of the world. Good teaching trumps bad standards.

  47. I was in Texas the first time beginning in mid-1970 for 2-years with the US Army at Fort Hood. I was president of Sports Car Club Fort Hood (SCCFH) and we staged monthly car rallies all over central Texas. SCCFH was the 1971 4th US Army Road Rally Champions. In those days where ever I went I found people I enjoyed and food I liked. We returned to NC and reared our children, a boy and a girl who now have children of their own for a total of 7 grandchildren who are bright and budding good citizens exactly as their parents. They all live in Frisco now after moving to Texas when their mother and I moved to Wise County after returning to Texas in 2003 based on good memories from our original two-years in Fort Hood. “Wise County” turned out to be a masterful oxymoron it seems.

    After watching Texas politics for the past 7-years and especially the overt anti-progressive neocon/theocon actions taken by the so-called school board eviscerate acceptable textbook topics and subjects, I am moving back to the east coast and advising my children to get the hell out of Dodge as it were as the Texas School Board seems determined to be as un-American as possible in every way.

    I have discovered it was a mistake to move to 21-first century Texas as the jerk-knee conservative idiots in state government are desperately trying every day to drag us back to the 12th century and establish a state theocracy.

    The funny thing about Texas are its many legends, lies and cherished myths; the sad thing about Texans is they believe all of them.

  48. Knowledge is power……a good education with a broad view of the world, is the key.

  49. At the risk of invoking the horror and outrage of many reading this, may I please point out the danger of conflating: a) dislike for someone else’s cultural worldview, and b) dislike for over-politicised power, guided by sloppy, intellectual laziness?

    – There was no blanket protection of religious freedom at state government level by the founding fathers – only at federal level, surely? Up until the 14th Amendment essentially nationalised federal rights, was there not a variance amongst states regarding these things? Isn’t to suggest otherwise an anachronism?
    – it’s not clear what the context of “American Exceptionalism” requirement is, or whether that required a specifically positive evaluation; could that not be a subject of critical analysis, and a useful framework for understanding what many people have essentially believed and acted upon?
    – Not necessary to think McCarthy was vindicated, but was there not some seed of truth which he exploited, in that there were actually agents of Soviet influence within American government? Isn’t this at least worthy of debate rather than outright dismissal?
    – Don’t see why Hayek should be considered verboten – that some board members didn’t know him or that he was born in Austria is hardly relevant; he wrote an intelligent and accessible critique of command economies, and since this was one of the central ideological arguments of the 20th century, surely he is relevant – as is Marx and Keynes – to understanding what people were arguing about then and even today. And he won a Noble Prize.
    – Likewise, I don’t see why examining the effects of decoupling the dollar from the gold standard, or the unintended consequences of federal action, should be regarded as “shameful”; it is not as though each of these things can objectively be said to be only an unvarnished blessing; examining arguments should not presume doing so uncritically.
    – The war between the Union and the Confederacy can hardly be understood in its entirety if we don’t actually examine the motivations and ideals of each side (any more than the Cold War could be); why shouldn’t Jefferson Davis’s declared motives be examined as well as Lincoln’s? Should we try to understand the Soviet Union only by reading what its critics said?
    – Insisting on “the importance of the expression of different points of view in a democratic republic,” is arguably highlighting one of the rights and amendments within the Bill of Rights at the expense of the others; I know this is contentious, but then why not encourage examination of the broader argument? The Second Amendment may be uniquely American rather than exemplary of all “democratic republics”, but then so is the First in it’s form and scope.
    – I appreciate and respect why individuals may choose to use BCE instead of BC for personal religious or philosophical reasons. But deliberately trying to universalize it in the name of neutrality just strikes me as phony and patronising; we are still referring to the exact same dating system of the same broad civilisation, which is at root focused on the same founder of the same world religion – how is this neutral? One does not need to be either religious or conservative to reject that neologism as intellectually suspect. And no offense, but in an age where even school boards can use (so to speak…) Google, if these kids are ill-prepared for college as a result of not using “BCE,” then we have bigger problems than we realise.

    As regards consulting economists, sociologists, leaving it to experts etc.: there are Republican, Democrat, libertarian, liberal, left-wing, neocon, paleocon flavours of all these too of course. One cannot simply presume that so consulting or delegating will mean that they will arrive at a nice cosy consensus reflecting the worldview of most of the people commenting here.

    This is why it’s important not to confuse our own cultural prejudices, just because they are shared by many others we like, with some sort of technocratic neutrality – everybody has an opinion.

    The case against the many sloppy, lazy, head-smackingly silly arguments by this board would be strengthened considerably if an “NPR liberal” worldview were not also presented as being inherently more objective. We don’t want to make sloppy, lazy, head-smackingly silly arguments unnecessarily attractive, surely?

  50. O.O’C:

    Once upon a time, I heard another person deliver an argument along the same lines as yours, with the same approach, the same tone, and the same feigned reasonableness. He lived in Louisiana and his name was David Duke, Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. See you at the next meeting, and don’t forget the secret handshake.

  51. “dislike for someone else’s cultural worldview”

    It’s not the worldview we have a problem with. It’s the lying. Yeah, the lying and the other forms of dishonesty. Oh, also the racism and the blatant rejection of science. Let’s see. What else? Can’t forget the hypocrisy and the judgmental attitude toward other Christians, not to mention those godless liberal atheists.

    I know I’m forgetting something. Probably a dozen somethings. Anyone else care to chime in?

  52. Thank you, Charles. What O.O’C is doing is playing the “Gish Gallup”. Just throw so many points out there that no one could possibly debate them all within their lifetime.

  53. Do the individual districts, schools and teachers get to choose NOT to use these revised textbooks? Are they free to pick and buy their own books with State money without consulting the SBOE?
    Home and private schooling FTW.

    1. Tom,
      School districts must purchase from the SBOE’s approved list of textbooks if they want to use state money. If they use local money, they can pretty much anything they want. But the latter is not a realistic option for school districts — those local dollars are already allocated for other costs.

  54. To everyone who has posted:

    We must do what we can to stop these backward-thinking, reactionary board members from tinkering with young people’s education. The Texas State Board of Education will be making the proposed changes public starting in mid-April. Please visit their website ( and flood them with your comments. Our young people need to know EVERYTHING about history, not just what the Religious Right wants them to learn. Our state already ranks last in education. Let’s not allow the right to make it even worse. Also, spread the word among your friends, colleagues, and relatives, especially those who are educators and have kids in school. Let’s really stand up for knowledge!

  55. The right wing extremists on the SBOE are aping the methods of Stalinists. Their orwellian manipulation of history to suit their personal political and theological beliefs makes a sad sad joke of public education in Texas and is the first step in converting our schools into somthing similar to the maddrassas of the middle east and asia.

  56. I have been reminding people for many years that there are colleges of Liberal Arts within universities and degrees in Liberal Arts, but no corresponding “Conservative Arts.” This is no accident, for the very term is an oxymoron of the first water, the antithesis of everything understood to constitute a liberal education. As good a source as any for grasping the gist of that concept is an 1868 essay by Thomas Huxley entitled “A Liberal Education and Where to Find It.” The person, he writes, “has had a liberal education . . . whose intellect is a clear, cold, logic engine, with all its parts of equal strength and in smooth working order; ready, like a steam engine, to be turned to any kind of work and spin the gossamers as well as forge the anchors of the mind; whose mind is stored with a knowledge of the great and fundamental truths of Nature and of the laws of her operation; one who, no stunted ascetic, is full of life and fire, but whose passions are trained to come to heel by a vigorous will, the servant of a tender conscience; who has learned to love beauty, whether of Nature or of Art, to hate all vileness, and to respect others as himself.”

    Apparently the SBOE of Texas is attempting the impossible: to create a curriculum of “Conservative Arts.” Every sane American should rise up in opposition to this effort. Surely it is bad enough that what Huxley observed of children in the Nineteenth Century is still true today — that they learn to “read, write and cipher,” but “not so well as to take pleasure in reading or to be able to write the commonest letter properly.” The instruction of traditional grammar has so declined that every single newscaster, commentator and politician never opens his or her mouth anymore without committing basic errors, whether of objective-case pronouns or subject-verb relationships, and high-school students are often given A’s on essays that display no ability whatsoever to take a premise to its logical conclusion. Small wonder our politicians often make no sense at all on the very face of their assertions. I have long maintained that a course in logic should be required of all high-school students as a requirement for graduation.

    As a former teacher on both secondary and university levels, I can only feel intense relief that I am no longer in the fray. Even forty years ago, I was at constant loggerheads with administrations over such issues as my providing paperback copies of THE PAWNBROKER for high-school seniors to read on their own time. I would not now go quietly into that good night of abysmal ignorance to which a frightening proportion of our citizenry would condemn us.

  57. As an educator in public schools, universities, community colleges, private schools, and now, as a volunteer, I feel qualified to comment. I read only a few blogs but here are two opinions to join the crowd: The only religion that should be ‘taught” in “schools” is Comparative Religion Studies, in a light stage for high school, and required for college and university courses. One course that should also be required in higher ed is “The Bible as Literature” because that is what it is. This issue is one of separation of church and state after one scrapes off all the rest of the rhetoric. I agree with the provisions for change set out by TFN but would have liked to have seen the words, “separation of church and state.” Keep pounding that phrase the same way the Right pounds its talking points on every issue. Liberals and other believers need to take a lesson from the teabaggers, conservatives, or whatever it is they are calling themselves this hour. The core of the extremists is still the Religious Right, those who would impose their religious beliefs on all of us.

  58. Many of the comments here remind me of one of the worst effects of the current right-wing government here in Texas–ignorant people around the country assume that we’re ALL anti-scientific, theocratic morons.

  59. Shirley:

    It goes without saying that any education geared towards creating in students’ brains a “clear, cold logic engine” would, ipso facto, be devoid of religion as a subject except, as you suggest, when taught objectively as an exercise in comparative literature. The devil is in the “objectively” detail, however. If presented in a truly comprehensive way, the very course material itself would by necessity lead to conclusions that many would call deliberate threats to their personal faith — defined by Mark Twain as belief in what one knows to be untrue. The two major Western religions (with which I am intimately familiar) largely survive as they do because their proponents have consistently done selective examinations of the underlying textual sources. If these were explored at greater length and depth, Fundamentalists of all stripes would rise up in righteous indignation and demand their elimination from curricula.

  60. There are obviously a number of issues with the SBOE’s requirements, but as a historian who teaches at the university level, I would just like to point out that history is always being re-written as scholars approach texts and other pieces of evidence with new questions, paradigms, and lenses. Oft times these changes have resulted in expansion of views, at other times restriction. Cultural history, women’s history, history of the under-served — all of these resulted in revision. Also, when it comes to scholarly views, there is rarely a uniform approach to anything, when you get down to the details.

    This is not by any means an attempt to endorse or downplay the specific angles promoted by the SBE, but just an attempt to add some clarification to the discussion. Using “revisionism” as a dirty word threatens the very real effort on the part of historians and other academics to constantly evaluate current understandings; sometimes this does result in a backward swing of the pendulum, which is sometimes warranted and others not. In my opinion, the focus should not be on “re-writing” history, as for the most part they are technically not doing so but rather choosing which historical foci fits their agendas; they may not be the leading histories, but they are still histories with at least some adherence even by accredited scholars. Should appropriate scholars be consulted? absolutely. Are many of the changes ridiculous or at least unnecessary? undeniably. But the more acuracy and specificity with which these subjects are addressed, the more fruitful the discussions can be.

  61. To June: “Liberal” when it comes to the concept of a liberal arts education has nothing to do with politics. “The arts that free” were viewed in antiquity and the early Renaissance to be those subjects which expanded the mind and taught one to think; in many ways they were a reaction against the “quibbling” nature of the Scholastic focus on logic, but they were also in many ways a major tsep back — trying to recreate classical antiquity to the point that Renaissance Latin scholars tried to remove all words developed after the age of Cicero. However, I greatly agree with the need to return to teaching grammar; students who come in from public schools generally do not know even the basic parts of speech.

  62. Checked for babies? Hey, you might be on to something there, ’cause it sure smells like some of them need changing.

    Whew, what have you been feeding’em?

  63. Removing Thomas Jefferson is, in and of itself, absolutely APPALLING. But throwing in John Calvin (a French-Swiss religious wacko) is adding insult to injury. (Tommy Aquinas isn’t quite so bad, but if one is going to include Acquinas, one might as well include a fairly detailed study of ARISTOTLE—but don’t hold your breath on THAT one, boys & girls, not with these nitwits at the helm of the TX Bd of Ed. The inclusion of Nobel Laureate Friedrich Hayek is actually pretty good. Ludwig von Mises would’ve been another good choice. But, for balance, one should also include a reasonably detailed study of Marx, Keynes, and, interestingly enough, Louis Kelso and his ideas. But do we see the latter?! Hell, no! And THERE’S the problem! And while I don’t have too much objection to the inclusion, as an alternative, of the term “free market system” (or, indeed, say, “market price system”), we should nonetheless ALSO RETAIN the term “capitalism”. And while I might give ya both Alaska (which was bought not unlike the Louisiana Purchase) and Hawaii as not necessarily being examples so much of “imperialism” as “territorial expansion” (and there is arguably a difference), clearly the territorial acquisitions resulting from the (so-called) Spanish-American War–Puerto Rico, Guam & some of the Marianas, the Philippines–*were* quasi-imperialistic. And to turn even so much as a section of a chapter–much less an entire chapter–into little more than hagiographic idealizing of Ronald Reagan and his years as President is, well, OUTRAGEOUS!

    For me, the most telling and appalling clue to how utterly ridiculous–indeed, preposterous–these changes are is the systematic and deliberate removal of any mention–much less discussion–of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson, who was not only the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, but also, as mentor of James Madison, instrumental (albeit in a “behind the scenes” sort of way) in the formulation of our current Constitution, is simply much, much too fundamental a member of the Founding generation(s) to be so shabbily discarded by these dim-witted, obviously cognitively-crippled, pseudo-intellectual hayseeds! I am not merely embarrassed for Texas, I am ashamed and appalled.

  64. MCP2012: I really like your content and delivery; however, you are preaching to the choir. The SBOE intelligence level will not permit most of them from reading of understanding your diatribe. I do not agree with identifying their ilk with any kind of intellectuality, even the “pseudo” variety. I would prefer “mentally and culturally crippled.” I’m sure none of them has more than superficially perused Calvin or Aquinas, or for that matter Jefferson….. I agree: shameful, appalling, embarrassing, disgraceful, abominable…. POOR Texas children!

  65. Ok, maybe I am greatful that the religious right cannot influence the section of school textbook in my Australian state. However, I admire Texas because it has a democratic way of selection curriculum and the textbooks…but I would be a a firm surporter of TFN.

    As for the use of capitalism v. free enterprise – silly. Why not call socialism communial control? I think Calvin and Aquanas are important but neither are enlightment figures. If they wish to be critical of the enlightment, start with the philosophical works like Alasdair MacIntyre’s “After Virture”. But they would then have to include the other bone of the Rightous Right – post-modernity.

  66. My closest friend is a direct descendent of Jose Torribio Lasoya, who died in the defense of the Alamo. By the way, the most recent book I have seen published on the Alamo offers strong evidence that most of the defenders were killed trying to escape from the fort. Maybe there weren’t many Tejano defenders of the Alamo, but evidently there were few Texian defenders left there either when the Mexicans started coming over the walls. In addition, the Texiansin the Alamo badly overestimated their own fighting abilities as well as seriously understimating the Mexican soldiers’ courage and skill. Also, as a Virginian, I resent Thomas Jefferson being demoted and replaced by John Calvin as a “great political thinker.” Mr. Jefferson may have fooled around with Sally Hemmings, but he never burned anybody at the stake like John Calvin did to Michael Servetus! Calvin was a religious tyrrant. Jefferson was a sworn enemy of all tyrannts. “Sic semper tyrannis!”

  67. Pardon my grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. As a Virginian, I admit that, as they say, I don’t have a dog in this fight, but as an American, I most definitely do. “Sic semper tyrannis!”

  68. who controls the past controls the future. who controls the present controls the past.

    welcome to 1984, people. These fascists are re-writing history. It’s time parents became more aware of what their kids are learning so they’re able to correct this right from the start. religious freedom is not important? burn in hell texan scum.

  69. What seriously worries me is that if this passes, they may very well succeed in making children in that state believe the things being taught. Sure, the internet is a great tool, and definitely would help set the record straight, except that these are students being taught these things. To many adults this seems outrageous because we remember what we were taught and how the standards being passed here differ, but for students who take no particular interest in the subject besides it being required, I don’t see them ever receiving the correct version of history. When I was in elementary, middle and high school I know I certainly never tried doing my own history research via other sources, except when facing an assignment that required it, I assumed the history textbooks were accurate and unbiased. I’m pretty sure as well that if I had been subjected to some kind of alternative version of history like kids in Texas are about to, my lack of knowledge about the subjects would have made it almost impossible to tell which parts of a textbook were incorrect or lacking.

  70. Christ, this **** really hit the fan with our pathetic education system. With this and Berkley, Cali high schools wanting to take out electoral science classes because of some “race issue” or some other nonsense, we might as well just abandon our schools. I mean really? If I have a kid in a few years, and he goes to school one day, is this the bologna he/she is gonna read? I thought things were bad when I was in high school and there were people who thought Pearl Harbor was just a movie. Now… now it’s just one s*** snowball.



  72. The public school system needs a really big enema to purge PC(Politcal Correctness) from it’s innerds. Rather than produce educated citizens to value negativity, contention, and disorder, students should be able to contribure to the economy, raise healthy families, and contribute to the public safety.

    It is easier to condemn, criticize, denounce, and protest than it is toe build something that works in the shifting sands of changing technology, consuption patterns, and competition.

    From a propaganda standpoint, however, both Left and Right play a serious game of Karpman’s Drama Triangle by switching roles between victim, rescuer, and proscutor. This requires the creation of villains to drive the triangle, to be able to play all three roles in any sequence. And that is all about “payoffs” like the old trading stamps, and which come in Depression Blue, Murderous Red, Righteous White, and Dumped on Brown.

  73. Shorter Gordon Fowkes: I don’t have anything useful to contribute, but I can point at both sides and sneer.

  74. As someone who is self-aligned as a born-again, Christian believer, what is going on with the Texas board is an atrocity. My faith was shaped by knowing the evils of our past, seeing them in light of what Jesus WOULD want us to do, and behaving in a far different manner. I did not come to this faith by having myself spoon-fed propaganda. I came to this faith with eyes wide open, knowing that at times hideous things were done in the name of Christianity.

    Such is the case with the way the Republican majority on the board has mangled and defiled historical fact. My right to speak my faith, live my faith, and reach out with my faith is grounded in Jefferson’s stubborn insistence that church and state be separate. For Texas’ board to behave as if they are someone “correcting” history, when in fact their rights are FOUNDED on Jeffersonian ideals, is insane.

    Jefferson was, to be true, a bit of a nut job. And from a theological perspective he adds little to my world.

    But the nut job did something right and we must give the man his due. This union has survived hundreds of years based largely on principles he penned and the people who went along with his principles willingly.

    I’m not in favor of TFN’s view that every conservative Christian is a head-burying dolt. At the same time, we are on the same side in this fight. This board must be cleansed and reasoned, disciplined scholarship must be allowed its proper place in the process.

  75. Steve Pearl, you’ve got it right. The board needs “reasoned, disciplined scholarship.” Unfortunately that’s not the kind of people the average Texan votes for. I’ve concluded that Texas is a lost cause. Sorry, kids.

  76. Mr. Pearl, I’d say that what the far-right is doing with the historical facts isn’t so much “correcting” history, at least, not to make it more _accurate_. They’re revising the history so students won’t learn facts that contradict right-wing ideology. They can’t keep them out of gay bars and shooting up heroin if they learn liberal ideas like the ‘wall of separation’.

    Works great for keeping the gals virgin as well, if you squint so hard your eyes are shut when the stats disagree.

  77. Judgement day–the final social studies vote by the Texas Board–was posted for the world to view:

    This video of the detailed discussion and of the actual decision making moment is a prime example of the erudition and eloquence of the majority, led by the most scholarly Don McLeroy, of the TBOE. Don’t laugh.

  78. I am a Social Studies teacher I think the new Social Studies curriculum in Teaxs is a great idea.

  79. Well then, Kathi Evans, why don’t you let the folks whose children you teach, know about your nonchalance when the SS curriculum is religious right-approved? I’m sure many parents would be interested in knowing what an ideologue they have educating their kids.

  80. As a Christian Sociologist, historical fact is of vital importance to the practice of my craft and faith. Witch hunts, whether in the colonial era or the mid-50’s, must be learned as a series of unvarnished “facts,” not as “interpretation” of facts. The best thing a Social Studies teacher can do for his/her students is present the most critically-discerned “facts” available and then let students make up their own mind as to the interpretation of those facts.

    Education, done rightly, should make a student walk away without ever once knowing the personal beliefs of the teacher. I would like to believe that my child would never know whether their teacher was a Republican or a Democrat, but rather would know that what they were learning was devoid of emotional baggage. Teachers who want to share personal beliefs, which is essentially what the SBOE did in taking a butcher’s knife to the curriculum guidelines, are protected by the Constitution to share those beliefs and lobby for their cause OUTSIDE of the classroom, not in. Otherwise, all we are doing is pitching the pendulum this way and that, allowing our educational endeavors to be blown by the whim of whichever majority happens to hold the gavel.

  81. I think a middle ground needs to be accomplished… Some this is the un Rewriting of history that was accomplished by liberals.

    For instance, “removed references to “democratic” (or “representative democracy”) when discussing the U.S. form of government. The board’s majority Republicans changed those references to “constitutional republic.”

    WE ARE A Constitutional Republic. That is the correct term…

    I think changing Capitalism to something else because Liberals have made it a dirty word is dumb. Capitalism while is Free Enterprise, it is CAPITALISM. Deal with it.

    Discussing the reasons for the cause of the war of Northern Agression is a good thing. If you don’t learn from history then you doomed to repeat it… catchy thought? You think it would in a history book someplace wouldn’t ya?

    And speaking of learning from History…
    With the opening of the Russian Archieves after the end of the cold war we see that Joe McCarthy was right there were traitors in our midst. Just because you see a commie behind every tree does not mean there are not commies in the woods.
    Ted Kennedy, Senator John Tunney and other socialists opened up relations with the Russians and worked in the background to undermine our efforts in the Cold War. Dozens of Spies like the Walker Family and others sent valuable intelligence to the Communists. Scientists in the Nuclear program gave information to the Russians allowing them to catch up with us. Countless intel was gained by listening to self important members of congress who in some cases got people in the field killed when they spouted out classified information. Several Democratic Presidents declassified valuable technology so that now China has more CRAY computers than the US. There Missile program was given a jump start because of US Tech the was released under and over the table. It has been said that we will sell the rope that they will hang us with. We need to learn from our past before it is too late.