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Texas education goes downhill...

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Say goodbye to children getting a decent education in Texas.

Evangelicals rewrite Texan curriculum


May 19, 2010

HOUSTON: In a coup likely to shift what millions of American children learn at school, a clutch of Christian evangelicals and social conservatives who have grasped control of the Texas Board of Education are expected to force through a new state curriculum this week.

The board is to vote on a purge of alleged liberal bias in Texas school books in favour of what board member Cynthia Dunbar says really matters: a belief in America as a nation chosen by God as a beacon to the world.

''We are fighting for our children's education and our nation's future,'' Ms Dunbar said. ''In Texas we have certain statutory obligations to promote patriotism and to promote the free enterprise system.

''There seems to have been a move away from a patriotic ideology. There seems to be a denial that this was a nation founded under God. We had to go back and make some corrections.''

Those corrections prompted a blizzard of accusations of rewriting history and indoctrinating children by promoting right-wing views on religion, economics and guns while diminishing the science of evolution, the civil rights movement and the horrors of slavery.

Several changes include sidelining Thomas Jefferson, who favoured separation of church and state, while introducing a new focus on the ''significant contributions'' of pro-slavery Confederate leaders during the civil war. Study of Sir Isaac Newton is dropped in favour of examining scientific advances through military technology.

The education board has dropped references to the slave trade in favour of calling it the ''Atlantic triangular trade'', and recasts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as driven by Islamic fundamentalism.

''There is a battle for the soul of education,'' Mavis Knight, a liberal member of the Texas education board, said. ''They're trying to indoctrinate with American exceptionalism, the Christian founding of this country, the free-enterprise system.''

The curriculum has alarmed liberals across the country in part because Texas buys millions of textbooks every year, giving it sway over what publishers print. By some estimates, all but a handful of American states rely on textbooks written to meet the Texas curriculum. California is considering a bill that would bar them from being used in the state's schools.

Underpinning the changes is a particular view of religion.

Ms Dunbar was elected to the state education board on the back of a campaign in which she argued to allow the teaching of creationism - euphemistically known as intelligent design - in science classes.

Two years ago, she published a book, One Nation under God, in which she argued that the United States was ultimately governed by the scriptures.

''The only accurate method of ascertaining the intent of the founding fathers at the time of our government's inception comes from a biblical world view,'' she wrote.

''We as a nation were intended by God to be a light set on a hill to serve as a beacon of hope and Christian charity to a lost and dying world.''

The blizzard of amendments has produced the odd farce. Some figures have been sidelined because they are deemed to be socialist or un-American.

One of them is a children's author, Bill Martin, who wrote a popular tale, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what Do You See? Martin was cut from the curriculum when he was confused with an author with a similar name who wrote a different book, Ethical Marxism.


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I have had several emails from members of the Texas authorities complaining about my website. The internet is a problem for them as they cannot control it in the same way as they do with textbooks. Their main concern is over the way I treat their so-called Texas heroes.

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Check out the San Francisco Chronicle article on it


edit: apparently I mean this one


''SACRAMENTO California, which has more than 6.2 million public school students in grades K-12, may soon take a stand against proposed changes to social studies textbooks ordered by the Texas school board, as a way to prevent them from being incorporated in California texts.

Legislation by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, seeks to protect the nation's largest public school population from the revised social studies curriculum approved in March by the Texas Board of Education. Critics say if the changes are incorporated into textbooks, they will be historically inaccurate and dismissive of minorities' contributions.

The Texas recommendations, which face a final vote by the Republican-dominated board Friday, include adding language saying the country's Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles and a new section on “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s.” That would include positive references to the Moral Majority, the National Rifle Association and the Contract with America.

The changes to curriculum standards also minimize Thomas Jefferson's role in history because he advocated the separation of church and state, and require that students learn about “the unintended consequences” of affirmative action and Title IX, the landmark federal law that bans gender discrimination in education.

Under Yee's bill, the California Board of Education would have to look out for any of the Texas content as part of its standard practice of reviewing public school textbooks. The board must then report any findings to the Legislature and the secretary of education.

The bill describes the Texas curriculum changes as “a sharp departure from widely accepted historical teachings” and “a threat to the apolitical nature of public school governance and academic content standards in California.”

“While some Texas politicians may want to set their educational standards back 50 years, California should not be subject to their backward curriculum changes,” Yee said. “The alterations and fallacies made by these extremist conservatives are offensive to our communities and inaccurate of our nation's diverse history.”

But some publishing industry experts say worries that the Texas standards will cross state lines are unfounded.

“It's an urban myth, especially in this digital age we live in, when content can be tailored and customized for individual states and school districts,” said Jay Diskey, executive director of the schools division of the Association of American Publishers.

Tom Adams of the state Education Department's standards and curriculum division said the Texas standards could make their way into national editions of textbooks, but those aren't used in California.

Adam Keigwin, Yee's chief of staff, acknowledged that SB1451 was “a precautionary measure.”

“But there are still things that could sneak their way into our textbooks, and we want to be sure. We don't want any of those changes that Texas has proposed,” he added.

For now, California's curriculum will not be subject to modifications. In July, the Legislature suspended until 2013 the adoption of new educational materials to give school districts a break from buying new textbooks.

SB1451 is scheduled to be heard Monday by the Senate Appropriations Committee.''

Edited by John Dolva
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In 1966 Ray Allen Billington produced a study called 'The Historian's contribution to Anglo-American misunderstanding: report of a committee on national bias in Anglo-American History Textbooks'. The study found that British Secondary School textbooks routinely ignored or glossed over the vital role of American troops in the First World War; American Junior High School textbooks on the other hand told a story of American frigates regularly defeating British battleships during the War of Independence (presumably on the basis that they were the 'goodies'). Rather than giving a balanced view of what happened these textbooks supported British and American myths.

Historical myths had a role in building tribes, and more recently in building nations. In an age of globalisation they are toxic, and in an age of nuclear weapons potentially lethal. Many other countries, especially ones that don't regard themselves as especially favoured by God, have History syllabuses that tie their national history into the History of the wider world, and approach the subject critically.

Military history is interesting, and I must admit I would sooner teach the impact of military technology than the impact of the ideas of Sir Isaac Newton. It is possible to look at History in almost purely military terms: my nearest major town was originally built as part of a defensive system against the Vikings, and there are counties in Northern England whose boundaries follow the winter cantonments of five Viking armies. However, apart from being good examples of the way odd things happen in History, these facts don't really explain much about the subsequent History of either the town or the counties.

Looking at the development of technology through the development of military technology is positively misleading: for example civilian railways were often as important in winning wars as military inventions. And social, economic, technological and cultural Histories are all more fruitful ways of understanding History than looking at military technology. As for political bias any interpretation of History that ignores rampant capitalism in the stone age world (i.e. caves stuffed with an over-abundance of produce intended for overawing visitors) or, on the other hand, ignores the succinct 19th Century observation that 'property is theft', is not introducing young people to problems of the distribution of wealth as adults see and disagree about it.

''We as a nation were intended by God to be a light set on a hill to serve as a beacon of hope and Christian charity to a lost and dying world.'' As something of a biblical scholar I'm at a bit of a loss as to where to find this in the Bible. However, if sincerely meant and followed through it certainly would make a difference.

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The new social studies revisions include:

• an "America is exceptional" theme;

• changes in the Middle East curriculum;

• broad use of terms like free enterprise and expansionism instead of capitalism and imperialism, respectively;

• a requirement to "analyze any unintended consequences" of 1960 reforms such as affirmative action;

• inclusion of information about "communist infiltration in the U.S. government," vindicating Senator Joseph McCarthy;

• use of the term "constitutional republic" rather than "democratic" or "representative democracy" in reference to the U.S. form of government;

• de-emphasis on the history of the civil rights movement and on the concept of separation of church and state;

• emphasis on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms;

• use of traditional date references as B.C. and A.D. rather than B.C.E. and C.E.;

• removal of the term "Enlightenment ideas" from reference to political revolutions;

• exclusion of art work involving nude figures; and

• analysis of devaluation of the dollar since the inception of the Federal Reserve and abandonment of the gold standard.

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