On Friday, the Texas State Board of Education approved standards for a new social studies curriculum that will alter what is taught in Texas schools. As the largest single consumer of textbooks in the U.S., these changes are expected to be reflected in classrooms across the country.
As we reported last month in Part 1 of our story, the majority of the 100+ amendments represent a well publicized and long-standing effort to recast public school curricula to include a neoconservative, Christianist perspective held by the majority voting bloc of the board. These board members see their changes as necessary to rectify a liberal stronghold on public education. From Friday's New York Times article by James C. McKinley Jr: “We are adding balance,” said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”
The neocon-dominated board chose not to have any subject matter experts appear to evidence or opinion. Members of the liberal academic intelligentsia, as they are viewed by the majority, were neither needed nor welcome in the process. In fact, they are regarded specifically as the "opposition." During the board's previous successful effort to change the subject of evolution to include it's weaknesses as a theory, Dr. McLeroy offered his now well-publicized quote, "Somebody's got to stand up to the experts." You can witness that little gem yourself here:
Here are some of the changes McLeroy and his ilk have made to what children will be learning in schools:
- The study of “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association,” in a positive light without opposing, liberal perspectives.
- Less criticism of the infamous Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his communist witch-hunt, showing how his views were partially vindicated in later years.
- Removal of Thomas Jefferson's role in the Enlightenment Movement and it's role in spurring revolutions in France and other countries. (Jefferson's views on separation of church and state, pure fiction to the conservatives, makes him persona non grata.)
- Alongside studies of Abraham Lincoln, student will learn about President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis with more equal stature.
- On the topic of civil rights, student will study the "violent philosophy of the Black Panthers in addition to the nonviolent approach of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." References to Justice Thurgood Marshall as the first black United States Supreme Court Justice have been removed altogether.
- In economics, the term "capitalism" will be replaced with "free-enterprise system" because of the stigma they fear is carried by the term. “Let’s face it, capitalism does have a negative connotation,” said one conservative member, Terri Leo. “You know, ‘capitalist pig!’ ”
- In sociology, students will learn about responsibility for their own choices when it comes to dating violence, sexuality and eating disorders.
- U.S. History classes will call into question the "separation of church and state." "I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.” [The religious anti-establishment in the First Amendment and the religious test clause in the Sixth Amendment. You can make the check out to Planned Parenthood of Texas, Mr. Bradley. Thank you.]
Dr. McLeroy recently lost his bid for re-election and is serving out the rest of his term this year. There are no signs the majority voting bloc will be unseated, however, and even if they were, these standards, if passed, will remain in place for the next ten years.
After her own amendment to require studying the reasons behind the founding fathers' idea of separation of church and state was defeated, Mavis Knight, a democrat from Dallas and member of the minority, commented, “[t]he social conservatives have perverted accurate history to fulfill their own agenda.”
We agree, Ms. Knight, we agree.
Below, a short, recent ABC Nightline report: