The State Board of Education (SBOE) here in Texas has achieved something physicists and sci-fi geeks could only dream of: They have managed to go back in time and re-write history. Remarkably, they managed to do it without the aid of a time machine but with a pencil and an eraser.
The SBOE recently approved new curriculum standards affecting social studies textbooks that will have far-reaching effects. The reason is that because the state is so large, textbooks companies take their cues from us and most other states buy up the books prepared under our direction.
But getting to the crux of the issue, the new curriculum dramatically alters history. Let us start with one of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, who no longer exists. And speaking of the Founding Fathers, they apparently created this country as a Judeo-Christian nation founded on Christian, not democratic, principles. The Civil Rights movement, as it turns out, was not that influential and Joseph McCarthy was right all along. Oh, and Ronald Reagan saved us from Communism and gave us the best economy in the world (until the last couple of years I guess). Oh, and the contributions of Hispanics are not worthy of discussion, either, which is remarkable for a state that may be majority Hisplanic by 2015.
It is all there in the linked stories above, which I highly recommend you read.
This story is garnering a lot of national attention and rightly so. Many of the blogs I read had touched on it. Ta-Nehisi Coates, Andrew Sullivan, Paul Burka, and the Scientific American have all weighed in, just to name a few.
Burka’s post is interesting because he suggests that the SBOE’s vote and the ensuing controversy could be used to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White’s advantage against Rick “Watch the Hair” Perry. We are a long way from November and that remains to be seen, but White has already pounced on it and I hope he continues to do so.
It really is a travesty that our children will be taught material given not for its historical accuracy, relevance or intellectual substance, but because a handful of right-wing idealogues wanted their political views imposed in our schools and on our children.