Afterthoughts: the Texas Textbook Travesty

THIS is a sampler from various newspapers which have commented about the recent activities of the Texas State Board of Education. In all excerpts which follow, the bold was added by us:

From Don’t sweat curriculum (un)civil war in the Houston Chronicle:

Mark Twain never met the Texas State Board of Education, but he had their number. “In the beginning God created monkeys, that was for practice,” Twain wrote. “Then He created school boards.”

The SBOE, which represents Texas’ best argument against the theory of intelligent design, spent the week engaged in a marathon of juvenile argument over what should be included in school curriculums and, therefore, textbooks.

Not much news there, but those were two good observations. Moving along, we see In Texas, social studies textbooks get a conservative make-over in the Christian Science Monitor:

Other states are watching closely. A state senate committee in California has passed a bill that would ensure no California textbooks contain any Texas-driven changes.

We’d like all the other states to consider such a law, especially regarding the Texas science standards. If this bill gets passed in California, we’ll certainly hear about it.

The last paper in today’s round up is the Dallas Morning News. Their article is titled More conservative textbook curriculum OK’d:

Democratic lawmakers and other critics have suggested that when a new board of education takes office in January – after two social conservatives have been replaced by more moderate members – the board should reconsider the standards and make substantial changes.

Asked about that possibility, McLeroy said there is nothing to prohibit such a move, but he contended that “when people look at what we’ve done, they won’t find much to change.”

Most experts say it is unlikely that the board will revisit the social studies curriculum – unless Democrat Bill White wins the governor’s race this fall. If that happens, White would appoint the education board chairman, who controls the panel’s agenda and could put the issue back before the board next year.

Change is unlikely if Gov. Rick Perry wins re-election.

That same article discusses the two items about which we’ve been most interested since last year’s anti-science insanity: (1) Thomas Jefferson and the Enlightenment; and (2) separation of church and state:

Board member Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, another social conservative, opened Friday’s board meeting with an invocation that referred to the U.S. and its history as a “Christian land governed by Christian principles.”

“I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses,” she said.

Were it not for the fact that we’ve been following events in Texas for more than a year, we’d assume that Dunbar is by far the biggest idiot in that state. But we’ve learned that she’s just one of many.

Here’s a bit more:

Before approving the standards on Friday, board members adopted scores of additional changes – including the restoration of Thomas Jefferson’s name to a list of political philosophers that students will study in world history. Board members had come under criticism for removing Jefferson’s name earlier this year though they pointed out that Jefferson would still be studied in other areas of the curriculum such as U.S. history and government.

Board members also adopted a standard that calls on high school students to “compare and contrast” the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment – barring establishment of a state religion – with the legal doctrine of church-state separation that emerged from U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

Interesting. Jefferson is back, and so is a lesson aimed at teaching the kiddies that theocracy is what he and the other Founders had in mind. Good luck with your education, kiddies.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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9 responses to “Afterthoughts: the Texas Textbook Travesty

  1. comradebillyboy

    Ah, we enter a conservative renaissance.

  2. “More conservative” should not translate to “less factual.”

  3. I must really be needing coffee. I entered this comment on the wrong blog entry.

    The Houston Chronicle article makes me sad. I’m from Texas and have worked in the education industry, as a computer technologist at the collegiate level and as a contract teacher at the secondary (high) school level. As a general rule Texas educators are not in favor of the teaching of creationism in school. I would venture to say that these curriculum changes will also be met with skepticism.

    Here is a follow up to what I sleepily posted in another thread. The author of the Chronicle article (Casey) wrote:

    “The greatest educational excitement, I believe, is when (sometimes in high school, often in college, and most deliciously as adults) we experience the joy of finding out how much richer, more layered and more interesting history is than what we learned in elementary school.

    The efforts of the current State Board of Education may well only enhance that pleasure.”

    The argument that college education is enhanced by a poor primary and secondary school experience and that we should ignore the textbook curriculum controversy is totally inane. Generally speaking the U.S. has very few vocational secondary schools. Instead, most public schools are geared towards college prep. With so much of our school system designed to funnel graduates into the university system, what value is there in having students “unlearn” when they get to college? Basically, Casey (the author) wants to teach children things that aren’t true to enhance their joy when they get to college. WTF?

    The purpose (for the most part) of secondary education in the U.S. is to prepare children for college or university studies. Therefore, it is important that students be taught lessons that are consistent with this goal. This means that students should receive basic treatment of the subjects as they will receive them when (if) they continue their studies in a post-secondary environment.

    Most state universities already spend considerable money in remedial classes. This means that they are already compensating for poor education at the secondary level. Can the author of the Chronicle article be serious that there is some intangible benefit to this? What the hell is this man smoking?

  4. With respect to your comment about idiots in Texas – it’s not that we have so many, it’s just that everything is bigger in Texas, so we have bigger idiots. (well, Alaska is even bigger so…)

    Seriously, it IS important to provide a solid education in K-12. Every young man or woman that turns 18 is a voter, whether or not they go to college. The more that graduate with a solid understanding of history, with critical thinking skills, and a sense of social responsibility, the better for all of us.

  5. Its unfortunate Gov. Perry won’t revisit the standards. Seems like the SBOE could do this with minimal fuss; wasn’t there a set of standards originally produced by Texas education experts (and rejected by the board)? Just vote to adopt that. An hour deliberation, a vote, you’re done.

  6. “Change is unlikely if Gov. Rick Perry wins re-election.” Yet another reason to get out and VOTE this fall. Let these elected officials know that we’re not happy with the way things are going and we want a change.

  7. Rebecca Bell-Metereau says:

    Yet another reason to get out and VOTE this fall.

    I donno. Vote for Rebecca, or vote for “Dog-Cat” Mercer? It’s so difficult to decide …

  8. David Walz

    “When Fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the Flag and carrying the cross.” Sinclair Lewis

    “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Abraham Lincoln

    “There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity … It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn.” Saint Augustine.

  9. We have so many problems with teachers. While in college I met many wanabe teacher majors, and found may were, duh? Since most have never worked for a living, but only teach according to unions..lets try for one year…eliminate all teachers, and replace with out of work bus/engr majors at minimum wage. Teach 3rs and US Constitution and Federalist docs. And, show the Victory at Sea movies. Only way to kill cancer is to eliminate it.. We could call this program…AIDs. Thanks, Ken