What’s the Matter with Texas?

Here’s everything you need to now about the proposed history curriculum from the Texas Board of Education, courtesy of Houston Chronicle editorial cartoonist Nick Anderson:

The new standards (PDF) would follow a conservative Christian, revisionist view of history.

Jerry Coyne has a perfect (actual!) screenshot from the proposed standards (the blue words are the proposed changes):

Phil Plait explains why this isn’t just a problem for young Texans:

… Texas has such a huge school system that textbook publishers will base their books in large part on the Texas standards, and these books will then be sold in other states. So these handful of ultra-conservative rabid far-right lunatics will actually be affecting the way children are taught all over the country. That means my kid. Your kids. All of them.

This is all happening despite the fact that one of the head Creationists on the Board, Don McLeroy, was defeated in an election… but he still has a few months to torch the education standards before he gets kicked out.

  • http://claire-chan.livejournal.com/profile Claire Binkley

    My, my! I can’t stop laughing in horror.

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    Church and state… why do these religious nuts forget this? Oh, I know.. it’s because they think they are right and everyone else is wrong.

    Or they want to take total control over everything.

  • http://cousinavi.wordpress.com cousinavi

    This is something that should come before the State Legislature…or Assembly…or Klaven…whatever the hell they call it down there…in the form of a bill to overrule partisan hackery in the formation of educational materials and curriculum.
    It is matter of extreme importance to the health and well-being of the state, and when patently corrupt fuckers like these right wing imbeciles brazenly flaunt the biased and revisionist nature of their efforts, it should not be left standing.

  • Boudica

    I’ve got one graduating in June and one more with three years left in the Texas school system. You can bet I will be at Meet the Teacher night in his Social Studies class asking how she/he plans to use those standards and expand upon them.

  • http://marag.livejournal.com Mara

    My oldest child is about to start elementary school, so it seems like the books that are influenced by these standards will probably be around by the time she gets there. I am not thrilled by this prospect (to say the least). Aghast might be a better word.

    I can see a lot of remedial history teaching in my future. Good thing I’ve got a good history background. But what about all the other kids?

  • Jim [different Jim]

    There are times that I really love the fact that I live in Canada, and this is one of those times. Oh don’t get me wrong, we do have our right-wing nuts here but they tend to be a lot less vocal and less “in-your-face”.

  • muggle

    This sucks. And I really need to retire because I’ll apparently have to be relied on to counter propaganda with facts for my grandson, now in the first grade.

  • AWayfaringStrainer

    I think that it is time for all other States to publicly reject any “Texas-approved” textbook, loudly and clearly. We need to send a shockwave of protest to every publisher that this unacceptable. Given the initial press, it might just happen.

  • William Geoghegan

    The other states need to reject textbooks that have been altered at the hands of Texas right wing extremists. Perhaps this needs to be organized.

    I used to teach in Texas and I have testified in defense of biology textbooks to keep creationism out. You would not believe the gallery of nut-cases.

  • ecorona

    Contact your representatives and tell them you don’t want Texas’ religiously motivated bias taught in your state’s schools. Join the NCSE (who fought the Dover school district over ID) and stay involved!!!

  • Miko

    They’re also removing references to the Enlightenment and to Thomas Jefferson in the context of the founding of the U.S. (because it’s not like he authored any critical documents in that period).

    Plait’s remark is actually overstated. As we move into a digital age for textbooks, the impact of any one market will lessen, as it becomes easier to create both “good” and “Texas” versions of the textbooks.

    @muggle: Better than that, consider homeschooling.

  • http://www.anthonyrmiller.com/ Tony Miller

    Lots of Twitter fun happening with this subject. And yes, Dr. Phil did get it started. At least I think he did.

    http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23texastextbookfacts

  • ckitching

    Church and state… why do these religious nuts forget this?

    Most don’t forget this. They simply believe that the separation was not intended to exist. They believe those parts of the constitution only say that the government can’t establish its own church, nor can it directly impede someone else’s religion. Under this premise, having the government awash in religion is perfectly fine, so long as it stops just short of those two things.

    Many of these same people figure that minority rights should be up for a majority vote, too.

  • Alex

    I live in Texas. I’m sorry about it all. It is embarrassing. If anything good can come of this, it is that parents might feel inclined to be a bit more active in their children’s education. I am certainly getting more plugged in. I would love it if everyone else said “Oh, a Texas textbook…let me get the Sharpie.”

  • http://base8.lavenderliberal.com/ Buffy

    This is beginning to sound like a dystopian novel.

  • mikespeir

    I’m a Texan, too, who lives in Texas. Sometimes I want to hang my head in shame.

    That said, I don’t think the view pushed in this excerpt is the wave of the future. I really do think we’re winning. But, sadly, it’s obviously not going to be a straight shot toward a bright and glorious horizon. It’ll take a long time and it’ll be bumpy.

  • http://onestdv.blogspot.com OneSTDV

    You’re conflating Creationism and anti-science with a more accurate (read: less PC) framing of American history.

    Yes, there will be more emphasis on those boring dead white males and not the Howard Zinn type of rhetoric promulgated currently.

    If one claims to be freethinking, then surely cogitation on a wider variety of issues, such as concerning the free market, pro-traditional nuclear family, and pro-military, should be welcomed.

    You’re basically attacking a strawman by equating conservatism and an ardent appeal to the Founding principles with Christianity. The latter is merely touched upon, as would be warranted considering our country is 80% Christian.

    [Note: I'm an atheist and an ardent skeptic.]

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @OneSTDV
    Sorry, but you are incorrect in your assessment. IF nothing was known of the asshats that comprise the Texas Board of Education and IF the Texas Board of Education had not attempted to set back education by 100 years, THEN you would have a point. But, what they are and what they’ve done is common knowledge and well known to everyone. There were no assumptions being made based on prejudice or preconceived notions. What more evidence would you need to see that these idiots themselves conflate conservatism with creationism? If they can’t get it in one way, they’ll force it in another way. Read the Wedge document, if you haven’t already. If you HAVE, then read it again. I’m sure these morons have taken their cues from this and other garbage creationist literature.
    Hemant, Coyne and Plait are all correct.
    (Note: I’m an atheist, conservative, pro-military, anti-communist and I liked Barry Goldwater.)

  • Canadiannalberta

    I wish I could help but as it stands all I can offer is my support.

  • Mark

    OneSTDV Said it so well it should be posted again!!

    After reading all the other responses I’m now convinced that free thinkers are not thinkers at all but merely rabid foaming at the mouth anti-religion liberal zealots. I didn’t see anything of a religious nature being added except for the fact that the religious right became an influence on national politics in the 1980′s which is a fact of history. But I guess you zelots don’t want the facts to get in the way of a proper liberal education.

    Here again is what OneSTDV wrote:

    You’re conflating Creationism and anti-science with a more accurate (read: less PC) framing of American history.

    Yes, there will be more emphasis on those boring dead white males and not the Howard Zinn type of rhetoric promulgated currently.

    If one claims to be freethinking, then surely cogitation on a wider variety of issues, such as concerning the free market, pro-traditional nuclear family, and pro-military, should be welcomed.

    You’re basically attacking a strawman by equating conservatism and an ardent appeal to the Founding principles with Christianity. The latter is merely touched upon, as would be warranted considering our country is 80% Christian.

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    ckitching said above

    Most don’t forget this. They simply believe that the separation was not intended to exist. They believe those parts of the constitution only say that the government can’t establish its own church, nor can it directly impede someone else’s religion. Under this premise, having the government awash in religion is perfectly fine, so long as it stops just short of those two things.

    Many of these same people figure that minority rights should be up for a majority vote, too.

    Well stated.

  • Aj

    History education has been hijacked by many groups, liberals, conservatives, feminists, hippies, belief in belief’ers etc… turning it into mythology, constructing it to convey moral messages, sanitising it to protect patriotism, religion, or ethnicities. This is just one such attempt of many. One of the board members apparantly complained there weren’t enough hispanic role models…

    Changing capitalism to “free enterprise” because capitalism has negative connotations? Removing Thomas Jefferson because they don’t like his views? Making a note that Republicans supported civil rights legislation? That’s not about accurate history, that’s a filtered version of history to support political bias. More accurate framing of American history? Put down the crack pipe!

    OK crazies from the left and right, you can have the humanities, just stay the fuck away from science.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @Mark,
    So, I’m a “rabid foaming at the mouth anti-religion liberal zealot”?
    It’s one thing to be conservative, it’s another to be a bible-thumping idiot, tea bagger or a corporatist shill. I spent the 80′s as a good Reagan conservative, actively raising money for the Afghan Freedom fighters and the Contras. If it was anti-communist, I was into it. I served my time in the military, was a card carrying member of the Republican Party and for a few years, went off track and joined a party that makes the Republicans look like commies. I didn’t just “talk the talk”, I “walked the walk” as a conservative. I’d love to see your credentials.
    I’m still a conservative, but I happen to enjoy thinking for myself. Seems like you’re just as interested in having someone else think for you as the liberals you so shrilly speak out against.
    You’re not a real conservative and you sound as about as unAmerican as they come. I have no use for the far left, but I have even less use for the idiocy that passes for conservative now. Turn off Fox News for a few minutes and read a f*cking book.

  • http://onestdv.blogspot.com OneSTDV

    Adding the ideas of Milton Friedman next to those of Karl Marx can hardly be considered advancing a rigid ideological agenda.

    “One of the board members apparantly complained there weren’t enough hispanic role models…”

    The reason there weren’t “enough” Hispanic role models was because the Founding Fathers and almost every single American luminary until the 1970′s was a white male.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Mark:

    I didn’t see anything of a religious nature being added except for the fact that the religious right became an influence on national politics in the 1980’s which is a fact of history. But I guess you zelots don’t want the facts to get in the way of a proper liberal education.

    Speaking of facts, how about the insertion of references to “nature’s God” into the curriculum? Yeah, don’t let facts get in the way at all.
    OneSTDV:

    Adding the ideas of Milton Friedman next to those of Karl Marx can hardly be considered advancing a rigid ideological agenda.

    Give me an example of when the ideas of Marx have been taught in your typical school, please. Not to mention that they wouldn’t be ADDING Friedman’s ideas – they’re trying to REMOVE all the alternatives.

  • Jerad

    I’m saddened that so many (not just here) seem to think that digital textbooks will lessen the impact Texas has as though the money saved will go towards paying more authors, rather than a cash strapped schools system hoping to merely pay less for their books.

  • Aj

    OneSTDV,

    Adding the ideas of Milton Friedman next to those of Karl Marx can hardly be considered advancing a rigid ideological agenda.

    There’s plenty of points of contention, plenty of evidence that they’re ideologically motivated. You’ve picked one point, that I don’t think any, at least not many, people were complaining about and pretended that’s all they have done. No one has a problem with the font they used either, that doesn’t somehow erase the many times when they are clearly advancing an ideological agenda. Read the fucking thing.

    However, I am aware you might be trolling, I’m not sure whether you’re delusional or dishonest.

  • TXatheist

    As someone in the inbred state I have bad news after reading some of the comments, the Legislators are mostly right wing xian nuts too. It doesn’t get better as you go up either. Governor Perry would be all behind this and just a few years ago Attorney General Greg Abbott swore under oath and testified that the 10 C monument outside the Austin capitol building had a secular purpose so it wouldn’t be removed. Do mess with Texas.

  • CS Shelton

    O, for a giant rattle can of Troll-B-Gone…

  • mikespeir

    I tend to agree with The Godless Monster, et al; but, no, I don’t see OneSTDV as a troll. Nothing wrong with stating and defending a simple difference of opinion.

  • http://fanhuddle.com/pittburghpirates Nate

    Am I missing something here? Where’s the religiosity in the screenshot you posted? I see some words altered to make neo-conservative politics look better, but there’s nothing explicitly religious there, despite the description from the New York Times.

    I’m a social studies education major. I consider myself a liberal guy, but the fact is that our nation was tilting neo-con in the 1970s through 1990s. You can talk about Nixon’s foreign policy expertise, diplomacy and the fact that he brought us out of the Vietnam war AND you can talk about the Watergate scandal and his paranoid tapes. To not do both, in fact, would be providing an incomplete education, and honestly I can see the point Texas administrators are trying to make when they say all we hear about regarding Nixon is Watergate. The guy was a complex figure, and if he didn’t get caught in that scandal we’d probably all remember him as a pretty good President. You need to discuss both things.

    You can talk about Reaganomics and the moral majority AND the Iran-Contra scandal and our support for the Taliban as freedom fighters. (In fact, D and E seem to embody this juxtaposition.) To not do so would be, again, an incomplete education.

  • http://fanhuddle.com/pittburghpirates Nate

    Give me an example of when the ideas of Marx have been taught in your typical school, please. Not to mention that they wouldn’t be ADDING Friedman’s ideas – they’re trying to REMOVE all the alternatives.

    I was definitely taught about Marx in high school, in both econ and world history. Even a little bit in US history when we got to the Progressive era and discussed Eugene V. Debs. I was also taught about Friedman. Having read Marx’s writings, I can’t say what I was taught was inaccurate, either.

    As for the textbook thing, it only becomes a problem if the teacher relies too heavily on the textbook. In social studies teacher colleges right now, there’s a heavy push AWAY from using the textbook as anything but a jumping off point, due to the fact that the chapters are very brief summaries of the events and usually contain either inaccuracies or historical disputes presented as hard facts. History teachers are lucky, because we have not only textbooks, but a wealth of other primary and secondary sources to introduce to our students. It’s just a matter of how willing the teacher is to go beyond the book.

  • http://www.givesgoodemail.com Givesgoodemail

    Not *our* kids. The ones still at home are being homeschooled, which is the only way to guarantee a proper education these days, about religious and non-religious matters.

    Not to mention that my (our) kids are getting a damned good education about almost everything (except math, which is proving to be a bit problematic).

    Public schools (with a very few exceptions) are a joke. Doing anything by committee is absurd when an individual can do it. And better.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Nate: Must be that I lived in a more conservative place growing up, but I never heard about Marx in anything but a negative light until college.

  • http://provisionalatheist.blogspot.com/ Pepe

    As a Texas ex-patriot and atheist, I’ve been watching the news about Texas educational standards with growing horror. But now I’m concerned about the reliability of the people reporting on it. I’ve done a quick review of the middle school and high school proposed standards, and the example in the screenshot above is about the worst of it. Other than the part about the motto and the quote from the declaration of independance there is no reference to god. Am I missing something?

  • http://fanhuddle.com/pittburghpirates Nate

    Mike: Not sure. All I can say is that I went to high school in a rural town in Indiana, and everyone was pretty conservative there.


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