#ThrowBackTexas: Jon Stewart Explains the Unexplainable at the State Board of Education

ThrowBackTexasIt’s #ThrowbackThursday, and rather than posting pictures of the horrible outfit you wore 20 years ago, why not drop a little knowledge on your friends?

Right now the State Board of Education is trying to #ThrowbackTexas to a scarier time. In the alternate version of history promoted by some board members, slavery wasn’t that big of a deal, the separation of church and state was never in the Constitution and women just sat back and waited for men to give them the right to vote.

Yes, there are SBOE members who actually believe this. And this year those board members will decide what history textbooks Texas public school students will use for much of the next decade.

TFN wants the SBOE to adopt textbooks that teach facts and honest history, not the personal beliefs of politicians. That’s why we’re starting a #ThrowbackTexas weekly feature, giving you insights into the worldview that far-right SBOE members want to inject into our kids’ history textbooks.

First in our series is a Daily Show clip from 2010 that excoriates the SBOE in a way that only Jon Stewart can. Stewart was talking about the board’s revision of social studies curriculum standards for public schools. Publishers used those standards when they wrote new textbooks they submitted for consideration by the SBOE this year.

If you want to keep up with the SBOE’s plans to #ThrowbackTexas, make sure you’re following TFN on Facebook and Twitter.

And be sure to tune in every Thursday.

2 thoughts on “#ThrowBackTexas: Jon Stewart Explains the Unexplainable at the State Board of Education

  1. This video clip is important, not just for revealing how reactionary were the Christian Fundamentalist Republicans on the Texas SBOE at the time of video, but most especially for spotlighting Pat Hardy, long-time Conservative Republican SBOE member from the Weatherford/Fort Worth area.

    In her last campaign, the Texas Tea Party tried to “primary” Hardy because they considered her a RINO and someone who was not radical enough for their goals of destroying public education in Texas. Her primary opponent was extraordinarily bad: a radical Young Earth Creationist, Christian Nationalist, and American Exceptionalist whose supporters wanted their hands on the reins of power to control public school curriculum standards in Texas. They opposed Hardy because she usually, but not entirely, supported adopting adequate Biology and Earth and Space Science curriculum standards that mentioned evolution and the ancient age of the Earth by often voting against motions to weaken and censor those standards (she did vote for a few of these!). Her explanation was that she is a Creationist Christian and Conservative but not one who wishes to impose her beliefs on science instructional materials used in Texas public schools. That’s a laudatory position for an extremely conservative Texas Republican.

    Hardy, however, made up for her “lapses” in the adoption of science curriculum standards by helping the radical religious right bloc on the SBOE in their successful effort to adopt debilitating and dishonest social studies standards in opposition to the many expert university professors, teachers, and social studies curriculum experts who made up the panels that wrote the original proposed standards (this was before the Fundamentalist Republican Reactionaries on the State Board, led by Barbara Cargill, adopted the strategy of packing curriculum standard writing committees and instructional material adoption committees with hand-picked Young Earth and Intelligent Design Creationists, Christian Nationalists, and similar dishonest, unqualified, and ignorant individuals who shared Cargill, Mercer, Bradley’s, etc. radical values and goals). With over 100 major debilitating and duplicitous changes–compared to about 8 for Biology and Earth and Space Science–a reactionary and aggressive 8- and 9- person majority on the State Board (with Pat Hardy and Tincy Miller providing the essential 8th and 9th votes, as they also did for the few anti-science amendments that unfortunately passed) was able to change the Social Studies curriculum standards in a way that would confuse and mislead Texas students with a demonstrably false version of national history. This ahistorical revisionist version was intended to promote American Exceptionalism, the U.S. as a Christian Nation, a fraudulent interpretation of Church-State Separation, a rosy, laudatory, and historically false picture of only the successes and benefits of the American free enterprise system (which is a system that also has many failures, problems, and built-in inadequacies), the demonization of the U.S. history of social programs and labor movements, and a general negative disdain for liberals, progressives, and social activists with a corresponding positive but false celebration of conservative and reactionary historical individuals. As I frequently said during that time, Social Studies was hurt far more than Science by the Texas SBOE.

    Hardy’s vehement attack on a requirement to have American history books mention Oscar Romero was typical. Jon Stewart justifiably made a laughingstock of Pat because she was so obviously motivated by her ignorance and bias. Pat was a social studies teacher earlier in her career, so she should have understood the importance of Romero, and she may have but spoke against him anyway. Her motive was no doubt her antipathy to any progressive social activist who opposes and campaigns against an unjust, murderous, and immoral authoritarian political regime that was, naturally, supported by the U.S. government because a decision was made that the regime helped U.S. economic and political interests, no matter how much the citizens of the Central American countries suffered. This sort of activity is, in fact, the history of Latin America for the last century: domination and exploitation by U.S. political and economic interests. No doubt the professional historians on the original standards-writing committees thought Texas students should know something about this notorious, undemocratic, and counter-productive history, but not former Social Studies teacher Pat Hardy. This was just one of over a hundred shameful examples of the disgusting politicization of our State Board of Education during the Social Studies standards adoption process with the goal, as always, of keeping Texas students ignorant of history.

    My goal in taking the time to write this long comment is to point out that adoption of accurate, reliable, and professional Social Studies instruction materials will be much more difficult in this case than it was with the Biology materials last year. With Hardy and Miller voting in their predictable way, there could easily be an 8-vote majority on the State Board to straightforwardly adopt instructional materials filled with right-wing politically-inspired misemphases, distortions, and errors that the publishers have helpfully included to satisfy the notorious Texas preference for instructional materials that confuse and mislead students to keep them ignorant. This is especially the case since many individuals on the panels set up to evaluate the Social Studies materials share the perverse and false historical beliefs of the radical SBOE members and were hand-picked by Barbara Cargill and the corrupt staff of the politically-captured Texas Education Agency to muddy the water and support adoption of any compromised and fraudulent items and criticize those honest and professional publishers who didn’t censor and distort their history instructional materials in the ways desired by the Board radicals. As TFN reported during their investigation of the composition of the review panels, the most qualified and professional volunteers–history professors nominated by good State Board members–were often not chosen by Cargill and the TEA staff to be on the panels so as to bias their final reports. So the despicable and counterproductive politicization continues in Texas and citizens must literally re-double their efforts (compared to the pro-science campaign) to have any chance of success.

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