The Year in Quotes: Social Studies

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

8 thoughts on “The Year in Quotes: Social Studies

  1. Question for You Folks:

    A liberal poster at my local newspaper’s website just chided me roundly for bringing “racism” into a discussion about health care reform. Apparently, according to him, it is no longer considered cool or appropriate to bring up racism in a discussion about conservative ideology. He calls it “race-baiting” and claims that it immediately causes conservatives, liberals, and fence-sitters to tune out on anything else you have to say. Therefore, avoid bringing the word “racism” into any future discussion or debate—I suppose even if racism is, in fact, a key problem. Although the wingnuts disgree with this liberal guy on most issues, they quickly ran to support what he had to say to me. All of this caught me by surprise.

    The question I would ask, and I really do want a specific answer from TFN or anyone else. How did the right wingnuts gain total personal possession of the race issue to the point that they can pretend it does not exist, pretend that they are not the primary possessors of the prejudice in question, and control the use of the terminology in public discourse solely for their own ends and personal advantage. This must be a public relations coup of enormous significance, especially in light of my own personal life experience indicating that racism is alive and well (almost exclusively among conservatives) even in my own extended family.

    Apparently, many people (liberal and conservative) have bought into the idea that racism no longer exists in the United States, and whether or not that is the truth, one should certainly be too discreet to actually mention it. Does this mean the David Dukes of the world have finally won out? Did racism go away—and someone forgot to tell me?

  2. Charles, they did it by exploiting privilege. Email me and we will talk about it. My email is available at my blog (where racism and its relation to current issues is always a viable topic).

  3. Racism, the ability to subjugate an entire race of people, this word has been under assault by the religious and irreligious right for some time, but more so now after the election of Barack Obama as President. Today in the United States and elsewhere racist language and actions seem to be increasing. Do not know the statistics, but assume minorities make up a larger than average percentage of the 47 million uninsured in this country hence, yes, there is an element of racism involved in the resistance to doing what every other industrialized nation has been doing for some time–providing for the health of their people. How can a “Christian” nation say that it is OK to die if you can’t afford health insurance?
    We all tend to dodge the racist epitaph, but as a prejudiced European American from small town South Texas I can confirm that yes racism is alive and well in this country; however, that does not mean I will stand idly by without working to end this abhorrent evil in our midst. John Preston, Co-Chair, Center for the Healing of Racism

  4. “Apparently, many people (liberal and conservative) have bought into the idea that racism no longer exists in the United States”

    Please note that the above statement contains a factual error. Please see my corrected text below.

    “Apparently, SOME people (ALL OF THEM CONSERVATIVE) have bought into the FALSEHOOD that racism no longer exists in the United States”.

    Now that is an accurate statement. No liberal would ever claim racism is gone. They would not be a liberal if they did.

    Of course, these same Reich Wingnuts who say racism is gone are very quick to claim Obama is racist against whites (ridiculous) or that eeeevil librrruls are prejudiced against Christianity (absurd).

  5. I read your TFN newsletters and also read stuff by SPLC, AU and my favorite, the ACLU.

    A cursory review of the periodicals and websites of these organizations provides POSITIVE PROOF RACISM IS ALIVE IN THE US. The long list of racially-motivated attacks in the SPLC website is undeniable proof.

    Anybody saying racism does not exist in the US is engaging in deliberate deceit, in the same category as Holocaust deniers or “Southern Heritage” racists who claim that blacks had it better when they were slaves.

    Racism DOES exist in the US. Ask the Latinos in Suffolk County NY, which opened hunting season on them this fall.

  6. I’m white (or European-American if the reader prefers that designation), and I know racism is alive and well in the United States. Conservatives can claim racism no longer exists based on the existence of anti-discriminatory laws in employment and housing, etc. They believe that since these laws have been around for 30-some years that they are no longer necessary. Hey, we’ve got a black president, they’ll tell you. Never mind that President Obama is, in fact, bi-racial. Conservatives (and liberals too) ignore the fact that Pres. Obama’s mother was white; they only acknowledge his Kenyan father – which is an interesting side issue of its own. Fact remains that since we’ve got a black president, then all’s well: the scourge of racism has been conquered so there’s no reason to discuss it or acknowledge it since it no longer exists. To talk about it would be like beating a dead horse, in their opinion.

    Since the election of Ronald Reagan, conservatives have claimed to own God. Now, apparently, they own racism as well.

  7. Thanks folks. I sometimes need a reality check. Hope y’all had a nice holiday season!!!

  8. Sigh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh well. My local newspaper has just banned me from posting comments in response to their articles and the posts by other commenters on their website. Most of the other posters there, particularly the conservatives, would probably get banned here at TFN Insider for behaving as they do day-in and day-out. Of course, I live in a red state that is even redder than Texas. A word to the wise, if you come to red state websites in the southeast, never confront the local racists with their racism—even at the local newspaper. Racism no longer exits here. It has been totally eradicated. It no longer colors any issue. Anyone who says different is dead meat.