The Year in Quotes: Social Studies

by TFN

We’ll finish out our series on the craziness we heard from the far right in 2009 with quotes on the revision of social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools. The State Board of Education will hold a public hearing on the proposed new standards on January 13 in Austin. TFN Insider will be live-blogging during that hearing.

Click on these links for other posts in our The Year in Quotes series: science, kooky, sex education, religious freedom, gay bashing, potluck nuttiness. Now on to social studies:

“That, sir, my friend, is why I contend that there is an overrepresentation of minority content. And that’s all TEKS driven. The specific TEKS say ‘the problems of women,’ ‘the problems of immigrants,’ ‘the problems of minorities.’ There is nothing in the current TEKS that talks about celebrating America’s positive successes.”

– Bill Ames, a far-right member of a social studies curriculum (TEKS, or Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) writing team, complaining that too many minority figures are included in history standards,  TFN Insider, May 22, 2009

“My own personal guess is that the reason (César Chávez) was included in (the Texas social studies standards) is that it reflects the leftist bias of the people who wrote the guidelines last time. I don’t know; I don’t know who wrote them. But I’m suspicious of that. … In comparison with [other figures], Chávez doesn’t warrant much attention. … He’s just not real high on my list.”

— Peter Marshall, head of Peter Marshall Ministries and a member of the State Board of Education’s panel of social studies “experts,” discussing his reasoning for wanting to remove César Chávez and Thurgood Marshall (no relation) from social studies curriculum standards, Austin Chronicle, July 24, 2009

“To have César Chávez listed next to Ben Franklin is ludicrous. Chávez is hardly the kind of role model that ought to be held up to our children as someone worthy of emulation.”

— Peter Marshall, in his review of existing social studies curriculum standards in Texas, Texas Education Agency, spring 2009

“César Chávez may be a choice for representing diversity but he certainly lacks the stature, impact, and overall contributions of so many others; and his open affiliation with Saul Alinsky’s movement certainly makes dubious that he is a praiseworthy to be heralded to students as someone ‘who modeled active participation in the democratic process.'”

— David Barton, president of the far-right organization WallBuilders and a member of the State Board of Education’s panel of so-called social studies “experts,” in his analysis of existing social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools, Texas Education Agency, spring 2009

“The foremost problem that I see is that there is not nearly enough emphasis or credit given to the biblical motivations of America’s settlers and founders. Our children need to know the truth about how our country got started. You never read about how the founding fathers were nearly all Christian believers and that it is their biblical world view that shaped the way they thought and achieved what they did.”

— Peter Marshall, ABC News, July 29, 2009

“This is an excellent opportunity to insert the previously prominent account of ‘The Bulletproof George Washington’ and his miraculous protection during the French & Indian War about which he openly spoke on multiple occasions. . . I recommend [that the TEKS read]:

(B) (A) identify and analyze the causes and effects of events prior to and during the American Revolution such as including the French and Indian War, George Washington’s emergence as a nationally recognized figure following the providential preservation of his life during the Battle of the Monongahela, and the Boston Tea Party . . .”

— David Barton, suggesting in his review of the first draft of proposed social studies curriculum standards that the Texas curriculum instruct students that George Washington was saved by God during battle, Texas Education Agency, summer 2009

“If two (board) members think they’re qualified, they’re qualified.”

— Don McLeroy, member and former chair of the State Board of Education, setting a rather low standard for service on the state board’s expert review panels for curriculum revisions, Austin American-Statesman, July 16, 2009

“Would you consider yourself a conservative when it comes to patriotism, the constitution, the heritage of our forefathers, etc.?”

— State Board of Education member Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, in an e-mail exchange with a public university staffer who wanted to be placed on a writing team drafting the new social studies curriculum standards, TFN Insider, July 30, 2009

“This country was founded on Judeo Christian principles and to say otherwise is to deny what is very unique about our country.”

— Gail Lowe, speaking in an interview with Associated Press after her appointment as chair of the Texas State Board of Education. Lowe also claimed that members of the board’s religious-right faction have been unfairly attacked and that César Chávez and Thurgood Marshall aren’t good role models for teaching about citizenship in social studies classrooms, Associated Press, August 18, 2009

“For instance, the women’s right to vote. . . . The men passed it for the women.”

— State Board of Education member Don McLeroy, arguing that history textbooks should make it clear that advances in civil rights in America are a consequence of the majority granting rights to minorities, TFN Insider, September 22, 2009

“The Judeo-Christian foundations of our nation are not something that should be diminished or rejected from the history we teach in Texas classrooms. It certainly is disheartening to think that a panel of social studies teachers would recommend this type of ‘politically correct’ perspective. I believe it was Ronald Reagan who said if Americans ever forget we are one nation under God, we will become a nation gone under. I don’t intend that to happen on my watch.”

— State Board of Education Chair Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas, accusing teachers on a curriculum writing panel of not wanting Texas students to learn about Christmas in their social studies classrooms, TFN Insider, October 15, 2009

This one isn’t from the debate over social studies standards but would hardly have been out of place there.

“Texas was preserved by God to become part of the United States.”

— Dana Buckley, who wrote a seventh-grade Texas history textbook, “The Texas God Created,” which she was selling at the North Texas Home Educators’ Network Summer Homeschool Conference.

Dallas Morning News, August 9, 2009