White men gave civil rights to women, blacks and Hispanics?

July 16, 2010

It’s maybe an apocryphal story. Republicans in Texas hope so.

It was at a very large, mostly African-American church in Dallas. The social action committee, or whatever it’s name is, was meeting. The only white guy in the room was there to try to get them interested in the elections for the members of the Texas State Board of Education. Normally these races are sleepers, down ballot, and off the radars of almost all interest groups. The social action committee was just as tough an audience as any other group with limited resources and limited time to try to get good political action.

Besides, a good chunk of Dallas is represented by Mavis Knight, an African American who is a pillar of common sense on the Texas education board, and Ms. Knight’s seat isn’t being contested in 2010. Why should Dallas voters be interested in any of these races?

“Before we start talking,” the lone white guy said, “I’d like to show you some of what has been going on in the Texas State Board of Education over the last year, in their work to change social studies standards.”

And he showed the video below. The entire committee grew quiet, silent; and then they started to shout at the television image. “What’s that?” “Is he crazy?” “He said white men gave us civil rights?”  “HE SAID WHAT?”

A 58-second video clip that could greatly animate electoral politics in Texas. The comments came fast and loud.

“That was part of the debate?  What, are they crazy down there?  Don’t they know history?  Don’t they know the truth?  They aren’t going to tell our children that Martin Luther King didn’t work to get civil rights, are they?  They aren’t going to say Martin Luther King died, but some white man gave rights to African Americans — are they?”

It’s a video clip that every Republican candidate in Texas hopes will be hidden away.  The Democratic tide that has swept Dallas County in two consecutive elections threatens to stop the Republican stranglehold on statewide offices in November, if those who voted in such great numbers in 2008 turn out again.

There are other stakes, too — the Republican stranglehold allowed the state education board to gut science standards, to eliminate Hispanic literature from language arts standards, and to try to change history, to blot out Thurgood Marshall and as much of the civil rights movement as they could hide.  So Texas children get a second-rate, incorrect set of standards in social studies, in English, and in science.

Republicans have declared war on good education, war on the children who benefit most from good education.

So, according to Don McLeroy, who lost the primary election to keep his seat, this little piece of history, below, is inaccurate. Tough for McLeroy — the Schoolhouse Rock video sits in too many Texas school libraries. Sometimes, the facts sneak through, defying the best efforts of the Texas State Soviet of Education to snuff out the truth.

But don’t you wonder what every woman, African American, and Hispanic in Texas will think about the importance of the 2010 elections, when they see what Gov. Rick Perry’s appointee to chair the SBOE, thinks about how civil rights were achieved in the U.S.?

Over at Republican headquarters, they hope that story is apocryphal.

Video of the Texas State Board of Education from the Texas Freedom Network.

Here, you can make sure other voters see this video that Don McLeroy hopes you will not see:

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SBOE dare not say his name: “Obama”

May 3, 2010

What?  The Texas State Board of Education is doing such a shoddy job of writing social studies standards that they don’t even name the current president of the U.S.?

It’s a cautionary tale of overprescribing, and of looking at everything as if it has some ulterior motive.  But is there any rational reason why the SBOE refuses to utter the name “Obama?”

President Barack Obama

Who is this man? Texas social studies standards let his identity remain a mystery, despite the historical significance of his election.

SBOE should stop gutting social studies standards and vote to simply accept the updates provided by teachers, historians, economists and geographers.  The process is out of control, embarrassing to Texas, and damaging to education.

Grading Texas has the story (from TSTA), here in its entirety (but go check out that blog):

April 28, 2010

The president has a name: it’s Barack Obama

TSTA President Rita Haecker created a stir among legislators today when she testified, at a hearing hosted by the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, that the State Board of Education, in its recent rewrite of social studies curriculum standards, had refused to name President Barack Obama.

That bit of news seemed to catch several lawmakers by surprise. They already knew that the right-wing bloc on the board had attempted to rewrite history. But to go so far as to omit the name of the historic, first African American president of the United States seemed preposterous, even by conservative leader Don (the Earth is 5,000 years old) McLeroy’s standards.

Haecker was correct. Barack Obama’s name, so far, has not been included in the history curriculum standards on which the SBOE is scheduled to take a final vote next month. The standards do note the “election of first black president” as a significant event of 2008, but they don’t say who that black president is.

Haecker urged legislators to make changes, if necessary, to the curriculum setting process to protect educator input and ensure that “scholarly, academic research and findings aren’t dismissed or diminished at the whim of a board member’s own political or religious view of the world.”

State Education Commissioner Robert Scott accepted the caucus’ invitation to voluntarily testify on the curriculum adoption process. He said his and the Texas Education Agency’s role was mostly in technical support of the SBOE.

Board Chairwoman Gail Lowe of Lampasas, who also had been invited, declined to attend, even though the caucus had offered to pay her travel expenses.

Predictably, Lowe was skewered for her failure to show up by the mostly Democratic legislators who attended the caucus hearing. Lowe must have figured it was better to be skewered in absentia than in person.

You can read Rita Haecker’s prepared testimony here:


Oh, go on — you can say it — tell your friends:

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SBOE shames Texas, part H: Luckovich on Texas education follies

April 17, 2010

Mike Luckovich on Texas education board gutting social studies standards, March 18 or 20, 2010Mike Luckovich on Texas education board gutting social studies standards, March 18 or 20, 2010

Mike Luckovich on Texas education board gutting social studies standards, March 18 or 20, 2010 - Atlanta Journal-Constitution

I found this brilliant Mike Luckovich cartoon from March 18, just in time for the anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride, and the anniversity of Longfellow’s poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride.”  What will SBOE members be reading for poetry to their kids, on April 18?

Education board shames Texas: Social studies follies, part A

March 31, 2010

John Sherffius, one of my favorite editorial cartoonists, laid out the problem in his cartoon of March 18:

John Sherffius, Boulder Daily Camera, March 18, 2010 - Texas social studies standards

John Sherffius, Boulder Daily Camera, March 18, 2010

You may purchase a copy of the cartoon — or the original — here.

SBOE isn’t exactly asking that the Bible be rewritten — or at least, not directly.  Suggesting we replace Thomas Jefferson as a founder with John Calvin in high school standards, is just as silly.

Tip of the old scrub brush to What Would Jack Do, “Lone Star Laughing Stock,” and Steven Schafersman.

Texas Navy supports honest history in Texas schools

January 15, 2010

John Mashey was too shy to raise the question in a thread, but he e-mailed me asking about the witness list for the hearing before the Texas State Board of Education on social studies standards:  “Texas Navy?” he asked.

Two witnesses listed their affiliation as “Texas Navy.” Edwin Greiner and Dick Brown, both admirals in the Texas Navy, were scheduled to testify early on Wednesday afternoon.

Now, a Nebraska or Utah Navy might not make a lot of sense, since both of those states are landlocked.  Texas needed a navy in the past, and at least twice, ships were commissioned and sailed for Texas, in 1835 and 1837.

In 1958, Texas Governor Price Daniel re-activated the Texas Navy with the purpose of “assuring the survival of Texas’ Naval history, boundaries, water resources, and for the civil defense of Texas.”  In 1973, the Texas Legislature authorized the charter of the Texas Navy Association, Inc., as the official body to oversee the operation of the Texas Navy.

Recruiting poster for Texas Navy

Click here to join the Texas Navy

You can join the Texas Navy.  Both the men listed on the witness list claim rank of Admiral, which is not a position one attains merely by joining — so we might conclude they have done something in the past to merit the promotion.

Consider joining.  Your membership will help preserve the history and tradition of the Texas Navy.  And — who knows? — you may want to testify to the Texas State Board of Education some day.  It looks like they’ll bump you to the first of the list, if you’re a member of the Texas Navy.

(Does anyone know what these Texas Navy officials told the SBOE?  Anyone have a copy of their testimony?  I’ll check with Steve Schafersman at Texas Citizens for Science to see if he knows . . .)

Trouble at Texas Board of Education: Social studies

January 11, 2010

Here is a news rundown of stories on the Texas State Board of Education, who have been planning for a year now to mess up social studies standards for Texas public schools, this week.

Get on your horse and warn Texans:  The Idiots are coming to get your good schoolbooks:

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