Texas education: Social studies on the gallows today

Social studies curricula climb the scaffold to the gallows set by the “conservative” majority of the Texas State Board of Education today.  If they get their way — and signs are they will — they will hobble social studies education for at least a half generation.

As The Dallas Morning News explains this morning, lame-duck board members fully intend to change Texas and American culture with their rewriting of history, de-emphasis of traditional history education, and insertion of what they consider pro-patriotic ideas in social studies.

AUSTIN – When social conservatives on the State Board of Education put the final touches on social studies curriculum standards this week, it will be a significant victory in their years-long push to imprint their beliefs upon what Texas students learn.

We in the part-time blogosphere can’t cover the meeting as it deserves — nor have we been able to mobilize pro-education forces to do what was needed to stop the board — yet.

McLeroy will make the most of his remaining time on the panel. He proposed several additions to the social studies standards for the board to consider this week. One would require students to “contrast” the legal doctrine of separation of church and state with the actual wording in the Bill of Rights that bars a state-established religion.

McLeroy has resurrected the old Cleon Skousen/David Barton/White Supremecist argument that “separation of church and state” does not appear in the Constitution, disregarding what the document and its amendments actually say.  Jefferson warned that such discussions poison children’s education, coming prematurely as this one would be as McLeroy wants it.

Watch that space.  Tony Whitson at Curricublog will cover it well, and probably timely — read his stuff.  Steve Shafersman’s work will be informative.  The Texas Tribune offered great coverage in the past.  Stay tuned.  And the Texas Freedom Network carries the flag and works hard to recruit the troops and keep up morale.

People for the American Way and the American Civil Liberties Union have already chimed in.

It is discouraging.  Under current history standards, Texas kids should know the phrase “shot heard ’round the world,” but they do not get exposure to the poem from which the phrase comes, nor to the poet (Emerson), nor exposure to Paul Revere whose ride inspired Longfellow later to write a poem that children have read ever since — except in Texas.

But under the new standards, Texas children will learn who Phyllis Schlafly is.  Patriots are out; hypocrites and demagogues are in.

10 Responses to Texas education: Social studies on the gallows today

  1. Nick K says:

    You’re quite right, Teddy.

    The right wing idealogues who are attempting to rewrite history to suit their own nefarious purposes and oppose the teaching of evolution in the schools do indeed have their souls in danger.

    After all…ignorance and arrogance are sins


  2. teddybeaver says:

    Thats true. Those who believe in such kind of things their souls are in real danger.


  3. The Glenn Beck Review says:

    Do you know about the man behind the 5000 Year Leap of Logic? I have an expose up for the weekend about Cleon Skousen that you might enjoy. Interesting comments have been made by people who saw Skousen speak are there too.


  4. Shelley says:

    The gallows image is no overstatement.


  5. Nick K says:

    Hmm…I seem to recall a group of people claiming they were following God’s will. Now who were they they..it’s on the tip of my tongue.

    Oh yeah, they were the Nazi’s.

    And slavery was also “God’s will.” And the 9-11 bombers were also following God’s will in their eyes.

    We noticing a pattern here?


  6. Tony Whitson says:

    McLeroy’s “American exceptionalism” is a lazy man’s philosophy, both in terms of the lack of scholarship, and in terms of the ultimate thrust of the idea, that we don’t need to bother to be good citizens because God is watching out for us.

    Dunbar was totally explicit about this in the invocation she led opening the SBOE meeting this morning.

    Her “prayer” asserted that nothing bad can happen to us as long as we are following God’s will.


  7. Tony Whitson says:

    a disease still curable with some time spent cloistered in a good library

    Actually, they’ve proven themselves quite good at finding whatever they want to find through Google — so what use would they have for libraries?


  8. Ed Darrell says:

    That’s funny, Tony. Thanks for the tip.

    In my humble opinion, McLeroy’s “American exceptionalism” is a lazy man’s philosophy, both in terms of the lack of scholarship, and in terms of the ultimate thrust of the idea, that we don’t need to bother to be good citizens because God is watching out for us.

    Were they to suggest a good, Ben Franklin-brand of American exceptionalism, I’d stand up and cheer. But they don’t want my students to grow up knowing where are the levers of political power and holding a sense of duty to participate in the process. There is a great deal of bias at the root of these board actions — anti-intellectualism, gender bias, and racism, among others. Conservatives don’t think it’s offensive to insist that Obama be allowed into the standards only with his middle name spelled out — but would they howl if we insisted on studying the effect of Ronald Reagan’s affairs on his abstinence policies. It’s a peculiar kind of blindness, a disease still curable with some time spent cloistered in a good library.

    Which is why they are assaulting the libraries, too.


  9. Farley says:

    This goes way beyond Texas, sadly enough.


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