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How will the new Texan textbooks explain the assassination of JFK


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Here is an interesting article by Chris McGreal about plans to rewrite school textbooks in Texas. I wonder what they new books will say about the assassination of JFK?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/1...ites-us-history

Cynthia Dunbar does not have a high regard for her local schools. She has called them unconstitutional, tyrannical and tools of perversion. The conservative Texas lawyer has even likened sending children to her state's schools to "throwing them in to the enemy's flames". Her hostility runs so deep that she educated her own offspring at home and at private Christian establishments.

Now Dunbar is on the brink of fulfilling a promise to change all that, or at least point Texas schools toward salvation. She is one of a clutch of Christian evangelists and social conservatives who have grasped control of the state's education board. This week they are expected to force through a new curriculum that is likely to shift what millions of American schoolchildren far beyond Texas learn about their history.

The board is to vote on a sweeping purge of alleged liberal bias in Texas school textbooks in favour of what Dunbar says really matters: a belief in America as a nation chosen by God as a beacon to the world, and free enterprise as the cornerstone of liberty and democracy.

"We are fighting for our children's education and our nation's future," 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 have prompted a blizzard of accusations of rewriting history and indoctrinating children by promoting rightwing 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.

The new curriculum asserts that "the right to keep and bear arms" is an important element of a democratic society. Study of Sir Isaac Newton is dropped in favour of examining scientific advances through military technology.

There is also a suggestion that the anti-communist witch-hunt by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s may have been justified.

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

"There is a battle for the soul of education," said Mavis Knight, a liberal member of the Texas education board. "They're trying to indoctrinate with American exceptionalism, the Christian founding of this country, the free enterprise system. There are strands where the free enterprise system fits appropriately but they have stretched the concept of the free enterprise system back to medieval times. The president of the Texas historical association could not find any documentation to support the stretching of the free enterprise system to ancient times but it made no difference."

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

In the past four years, Christian conservatives have won almost half the seats on the Texas education board and can rely on other Republicans for support on most issues. They previously tried to require science teachers to address the "strengths and weaknesses" in the theory of evolution – a move critics regard as a back door to teaching creationism – but failed. They have had more success in tackling history and social studies.

Dunbar backed amendments to the curriculum that portray the free enterprise system (there is no mention of capitalism, deemed to be a tainted word) as a cornerstone of liberty and argue that the government should have a minimal role in the economy.

One amendment requires that students be taught that economic prosperity requires "minimal government intrusion and taxation".

Underpinning the changes is a particular view of religion.

Dunbar was elected to the state education board on the back of a campaign in which she argued for 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 worldview," 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."

On the education board, Dunbar backed changes that include teaching the role the "Jewish Ten Commandments" played in "political and legal ideas", and the study of the influence of Moses on the US constitution. Dunbar says these are important steps to overturning what she believes is the myth of a separation between church and state in the US.

"There's been this amorphous changing of how we look at religion and how we define religion within American history. One concern I have is that the viewpoint of the founding fathers is very clear. They were not against the promotion of religion. I think it is important to present a historically accurate viewpoint to students," she said.

On the face of it some of the changes are innocuous but critics say that closer scrutiny reveals a not-so-hidden agenda. History students are now to be required to study documents, such as the Mayflower Compact, which instil the idea of America being founded as a Christian fundamentalist nation.

Knight and others do not question that religion was an important force in American history but they fear that it is being used as a Trojan horse by evangelists to insert religious indoctrination into the school curriculum. They point to the wording of amendments such as that requiring students to "describe how religion and virtue contributed to the growth of representative government in the American colonies".

Among the advisers the board brought in to help rewrite the curriculum is David Barton, the leader of WallBuilders which seeks to promote religion in history. Barton has campaigned against the separation of church and state. He argues that income tax should be abolished because it contradicts the bible. Among his recommendations was that pupils should be taught that the declaration of independence establishes that the creator is at the heart of law, government and individual rights.

Conservatives have been accused of an assault on the history of civil rights. One curriculum amendment describes the civil rights movement as creating "unrealistic expectations of equal outcomes" among minorities. Another seeks to place Martin Luther King and the violent Black Panther movement as opposite sides of the same coin.

"We had a big discussion around that," said Knight, a former teacher. "It was an attempt to taint the civil rights movement. They did the same by almost equating George Wallace [the segregationist governor of Alabama in the mid-1960s] with the civil rights movement and the things Martin Luther King Jr was trying to accomplish, as if Wallace was standing up for white civil rights. That's how slick they are.

"They're very smooth at excluding the contributions of minorities into the curriculum. It is as if they want to render minority groups totally invisible. I think it's racist. I really do."

The blizzard of amendments has produced the occasional 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 purged from the curriculum when he was confused with an author with a similar name but a different book, Ethical Marxism.

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The writer displays bias and ignorance in saying CREATIONISM and INTELLIGENT DESIGN are the same.

They are NOT. Creationism is based on religion. Intelligent Design is NOT based on religion.

But both rely on the logic that CREATION requires a CREATOR. But after that they part ways.

Creationism requires a GOD. Intelligent Design does not require the creator to be a "god".

Darwinism (evolution) requires NO CREATOR. In Darwinism, all that exists came into being though

chance mutations, and "just happens". It offers NO explanation of where everything came from.

All three fall short of explaining "WHERE DID EVERYTHING COME FROM?"

The only explanation is NOBODY KNOWS. It is unknowable.

Jack

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All three fall short of explaining "WHERE DID EVERYTHING COME FROM?"

The only explanation is NOBODY KNOWS. It is unknowable.

Jack

I agree 100%, Jack. It is unknowable given the evidence available. I would be equally foolish to claim that there definitely is a God, or conversely, that there definitely is NOT a God. Both positions are based on assertions that are less than adequately supported.

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A more conservative interpretation of the subject by Rebecca Terrell in the New American:

http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/cu...xtbook-massacre

New textbook standards approved in Texas are poised to revolutionize public-school curricula nationwide, and liberal educators are furious. Every year the Texas State Board of Education revises a particular subject curriculum, outlining rules that school districts must follow in purchasing teaching materials with state money. Since Texas is the single largest purchaser of textbooks in the country, it holds sway over content of books available on the market to all states.

This year's revisions focus on the social studies curriculum and promote a more patriotic position than current texts endorse, according to Cynthia Dunbar, one of 10 Republicans on the 15-member board. The revisions were codified at a full board meeting in Austin, Texas, last week and are up for a final vote in May.

"I think [the standards] are pro-American, but not to the extent that the other side is saying we're whitewashing history," explained Dunbar in a March 15 Fox News interview. A Wall Street Journal editorial belittled her for calling public education "clearly tyrannical" and a "subtly deceptive tool of perversion" in her 2008 book One Nation Under God. The article said critics view the school board as "a sort of Texas inquisition, in which buffoons who believe they're authorities hand down half-baked opinions from overstuffed chairs."

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.

Dunbar explained the board's efforts as necessary "clean-up" of a curriculum tainted with a "subtle trend" toward negativity about America, which explains their reason for using terms like free enterprise in place of capitalism. "We wanted to make sure ... there was a patriotic position promoted, because America, after all, is still the greatest nation on Earth."

Critics view the changes as part of a right-wing conspiracy. "Religious conservatives began a concerted effort to take control of the state board beginning in 1992" when it became a "culture war battleground" bewails the Texas Freedom Network (TFN), which bills itself as an organization founded "to counter the religious right." It accuses the board of poor scholarship in enacting "numerous and outrageously foolish, intolerant and ignorant changes based on little more than their own (limited) knowledge and personal beliefs." TFN spokesman Kathy Miller complained in a Fox News broadcast, "This is not a good way to make sound education policy."

The Washington Post quotes one textbook author, Paul S. Boyer, expressing his uneasiness. "I'm made uncomfortable by mandates of this kind," said the University of Wisconsin-Madison professor. He worries the changes might make him reluctant to endorse his own work.

Yet others are less quick to judge. "If the textbooks are shifting right, is that a departure from accuracy or a move toward it?" queried Dallas Morning News columnist Mark Davis.

Jonathan Saenz with the conservative think-tank Free Market Foundation (FMF) told Fox News, "What [critics] support is a review committee that took out Independence Day, a review committee that took out Veterans Day, a review committee that took out Christmas, took out Rosh Hashanah, took out Neil Armstrong and Albert Einstein." Saenz explained FMF's involvement in the textbook wars, saying, "We're trying to make sure that any religious heritage of our nation is not censored."

As to rumors the Texas school board stripped Thomas Jefferson from the school curriculum, Dunbar chuckled, "Thomas Jefferson is still in."

The board adopted new science standards last year after an equally controversial battle over creationism versus evolution, acknowledged as a conservative victory. In 2008, updates to language arts standards were enacted. A full webcast of last week's board meeting about the social studies curriculum is available at this link.

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The writer displays bias and ignorance in saying CREATIONISM and INTELLIGENT DESIGN are the same.

I would say the ignorance is (willfully) yours, Jack. "Intelligent Design" was the brainchild of "creationists" for the sole purpose of getting around court rulings. Thus, it is not a stretch to look at it as a trojan horse for creationism.

Incidentally, I came up with the concept of intelligent design when I was 5 years old (though obviously I didn't give it any name). And that is about the level of the argument for it.

They are NOT. Creationism is based on religion. Intelligent Design is NOT based on religion.

But both rely on the logic that CREATION requires a CREATOR. But after that they part ways.

Creationism requires a GOD. Intelligent Design does not require the creator to be a "god".

Darwinism (evolution) requires NO CREATOR. In Darwinism, all that exists came into being though

chance mutations, and "just happens". It offers NO explanation of where everything came from.

All three fall short of explaining "WHERE DID EVERYTHING COME FROM?"

The only explanation is NOBODY KNOWS. It is unknowable.

Jack

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"Intelligent design" is just creationism in a new set of clothes. Jack is incorrect with his assertions and displays the attitude that would be expected from someone from a "christian" education. He makes the same incorrect assumptions as many before him. He forgets there is no absolute proof in science. Just because we don't know how life started does not mean evolution is wrong. Science uses logical inference, testing those hypotheses. Evolution makes many specific predictions – and so far all of those predictions have been validated. Evolution has been confirmed to such a high degree that we can now take it as a solid premise. The same cannot be said for ID.

Some supporting evidence from those far more qualified than I am.

Darwin’s 200th birthday, 12th February 2009, is the opportunity for the science community to celebrate Charles Darwin's life and the huge contribution he made to increasing the understanding of the world we live in.

Darwin's work on The Origin of Species and his Theory of Evolution is supported by a diverse and robust body of physical evidence, from fossilised bones to radiometric measurement of the ages of the Earth's rocks. Clear evidence about the origins and evolution of the Earth and of life on this planet have been established by facts and data from the breadth of Science and its numerous disciplines.

This anniversary is an opportunity to affirm the importance of education about the fundamental elements of science. A scientific understanding of the world in which we live will enable us all to meet the future needs of the planet.

Creation vs evolution. Creationism and intelligent design, arguments, evidence and theory.

There has been much debate about the teaching of creationism and intelligent design. Intelligent Design is a creationist belief that suggests that the biological complexity of human beings is evidence for presence of a God or an 'intelligent designer'. There are concerns that it is sometimes advanced as scientific theory but it has no underpinning scientific principles or explanations supporting it and it is not accepted by the international scientific community. Creationism and intelligent design are not part of the National Curriculum for science, but there is scope for schools to discuss creationism as part of Religious Education.

Below are links to statements and reports by a range of scientific bodies of national or international standing.

The Association for Science Education is the professional association for teachers of science. With a broad spread of membership from primary and secondary teachers, to technicians, those involved in Initial Teacher Education, and also includes some 2.500 student members.

Geological Society of London is a learned society with the aim of "investigating the mineral structure of the Earth". It is the oldest national geological society in the world and the largest in Europe with over 9000 Fellows.

American Association for the Advancement of Science regarding the importance of the integrity of science as depicted in film. This is a response to the release of a film called 'Expelled' which it was felt inappropriately witted science against religion.

American Association for the Advancement of Science is an international non-profit organisation dedicated to advancing science around the world. Founded in 1848, AAAS serves some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. The non-profit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; and more.

The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a nonprofit scientific association dedicated to advancing biological research and education for the welfare of society

The Geological Society of America is a global professional society with a membership of more than 21,000 individuals in over 85 countries.

InterAcademy Panel on International Issues (IAP) is a global network of the world's science academies, including from the United Kingdom, The Royal Society. The panel was launched in 1993, its primary goal is to help member academies work together to advise citizens and public officials on the scientific aspects of critical global issues. .

Joint Statement AAAS, NSTA, National Research Council - Kansas Education Standards The National Academies perform an unparalleled public service by bringing together committees of experts in all areas of scientific and technological endeavor. These experts serve pro bono to address critical national issues and give advice to the federal government and the public.

National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), founded in 1944 is committed to promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all. NSTA's current membership of more than 55,000 includes science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business and industry representatives, and others involved in and committed to science education.

http://www.sciencecouncil.org/Creationism.php

Intelligent Design Creationism: Fraudulent Science, Bad Philosophy.

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Does anyone know how the assassination of JFK is dealt with in US school textbooks?

Good question. Whenever I come across a book on Kennedy or American presidents at the library or in a bookstore I check to see how it deals with the assassination. Most books designed for pre-teens says something like "On November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, Kennedy was shot and killed by a man with a rifle." Books for older kids or a general audience are slightly more specific, with something like "Lee Harvey Oswald is believed to have been the sniper, but, since he was killed two days later without ever having confessed, this may never be known for sure."

Ironically, it is primarily in the biographies of Kennedy written by professional historians--those who should know better--that one finds flat-out stories of "Oswald did-it."

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The writer displays bias and ignorance in saying CREATIONISM and INTELLIGENT DESIGN are the same.

They are NOT. Creationism is based on religion. Intelligent Design is NOT based on religion.

But both rely on the logic that CREATION requires a CREATOR. But after that they part ways.

Creationism requires a GOD. Intelligent Design does not require the creator to be a "god".

Darwinism (evolution) requires NO CREATOR. In Darwinism, all that exists came into being though

chance mutations, and "just happens". It offers NO explanation of where everything came from.

All three fall short of explaining "WHERE DID EVERYTHING COME FROM?"

The only explanation is NOBODY KNOWS. It is unknowable.

Jack

Agreeed that it is unknowable.

Edited by Todd W. Vaughan
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Todd,

Why "unknowable"? Why not "yet undiscovered" or "a not yet understood process"? The LHC will go a long way to answering the questions we have.

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Todd,

Why "unknowable"? Why not "yet undiscovered" or "a not yet understood process"? The LHC will go a long way to answering the questions we have.

The LHC super conducting super-collider in Switzerland, which was originally to have been built in Texas,

provides only experiments on which scientists then propose theories about matter vs anti-matter, about

which those scientists and opposing scientists will argue for decades or centuries more, about the big-bang

theory "which created everything", according to some scientists, who are opposed by other scientists who

insist that "everything cannot be created from nothing". Scientists are to be encouraged to look for answers.

But they will not find them in super conducting super-colliders...which may provide clues, but not answers.

Burton is no more qualified than I am to say that an explanation for creation can be found.

Philosophers have pondered the question as long as there have been philosophers: WHAT EXISTED BEFORE

ANYTHING EXISTED? Or did "something" ALWAYS exist? Was there a beginning, or no beginning? This amounts

to pondering the imponderable. It is unknowable. Only scientific theorists and religionists believe they have

answers.

Jack

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