The Texas Textbook Two-step

Meet the graduating Texas senior class of 2020 and beyond. This group of students has some unique identifying characteristics, products of an educat

texas-2-step_d4b3a.gif

Meet the graduating Texas senior class of 2020 and beyond. This group of students has some unique identifying characteristics, products of an education based upon textbooks crafted with an agenda. If you were to test them on their knowledge, here's what you'd discover:

  • They don't know who Thomas Jefferson is and why he's significant, but they do know who John Calvin is and believe he was instrumental to the formation of our nation.
  • They believe the terms church and state are interchangeable.
  • They do not believe in evolution as fact, but are inclined to embrace creation theory or intelligent design as the explanation for how the universe came into existence.
  • They believe the right to bear arms is a first AND second amendment right granted by the Constitution. (see 11:12 entry)
  • They do not understand the term "democracy", but can define "constitutional Republic" and apply it to the American system of government.
  • They don't know that the United States Constitution bans placing one religion over others.
  • They can name at least three pro-free market factors contributing to European progress in medieval times. (Yes, I'm serious. Read the 6:43 pm entry)
  • They cannot define capitalism, but are completely familiar with the idea that taxation and government regulation inhibits free enterprise.
  • They ignore Hispanics and their role in various historical events in the United States, such as the Alamo.

What we have here, folks, is a vast right-wing conspiracy. In his now-famous memo written to the US Chamber of Commerce in 1974, Lewis Powell set forth a road map for conservative domination of the political landscape. 36 years later, it bears fruit. The Texas School Board rewrites of social studies and economics textbooks is simply another stepping-stone to the greater goal. From the Powell memo:

The staff of scholars (or preferably a panel of independent scholars) should evaluate social science textbooks, especially in economics, political science and sociology. This should be a continuing program.

and this:

The objective of such evaluation should be oriented toward restoring the balance essential to genuine academic freedom. This would include assurance of fair and factual treatment of our system of government and our enterprise system, its accomplishments, its basic relationship to individual rights and freedoms, and comparisons with the systems of socialism, fascism and communism. Most of the existing textbooks have some sort of comparisons, but many are superficial, biased and unfair.

To restate that last paragraph more clearly, the objective of such evaluation should be an effort to rewrite the history books to selectively include terms, analyses and explanations which favor conservative values and encourage commercial interests.

The biggest myth conservatives continue to perpetuate is this idea of business as champion of 'individual rights and freedoms.' Nowhere is it more obvious than these blatant rewrites of Texas social studies and history textbooks. Rather than present all facts, events, and people of a time, they only choose those which indoctrinate students with a conservative narrative.

Liberty granted by conservatives is no liberty at all. Their cynical viewpoint assumes inability on the part of most citizens to think critically about the role of people, places, things, business and invention in the context of history in order to form their own conclusion. Instead they co-opt the religious right and use culture wars to invent a fiction to spoon-feed to our children.

Still, in all the reports I've seen about this, there's a certain derision from the left that sends danger signals off in me. Laugh at the Texas School Board at your own peril. They have just succeeded in approving a statewide curriculum indoctrinating students, educating them on a single point of view, and threatening our national curriculum in far too many ways. To shrug them off or paint them as buffoons misses their larger, and largely successful, plan.

From The Nation:

So progressives could be forgiven for branding the right as stupid and crazy. But they would also be wrong. For if this is madness, there is great method in it. It is well organized and well funded. It has proven effective in mobilizing support, creating "controversy" where little exists and disrupting and disorienting whatever national conversation there is. If it is stupid, then what does it say about us, since time and again it manages to outmaneuver the left?

It's really time to, in their words, "take back our country."

[Note: Judy Jennings and Rebeca Bell-Metereau oppose these changes and are running for the Texas State Board of Education. They deserve our support.]

About karoli

karoli's picture
Card-carrying member of we, the people.

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.