Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ronald Reagan, Phyllis Schlafly And The NRA More Important Than Thomas Jefferson?

The ongoing "textbook wars" and the battle for the precept of Separation of Church and State in Texas and elsewhere rages on. A commentator on the blog The Moderate Voice left the following comment:
NotFullyBaked 1 day ago

Interesting that when reading the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEK) themselves, they do not seem all that radical--this coming from someone whose politics have described as "somewhere to the left of Mao. See:

To fully understand the changes, I think one would need to compare and contrast the Old TEKS with the New TEKS. But with just the New TEKS to scan, I have two comments:

1. I never knew that Ronald Reagan was such an important HISTORICAL figure, and

2. What is Celebrate Freedom Week, anyway, and why does it occupy such an important place in Texas Schools' History curriculum? (Or, did I miss the establishment of Celebrate Freedom Week as the most important event of the school year?)


Politics Daily weighs in with the following information:
In a matter of days last week in Austin, the majority of the 15-member board, insisting they were only trying to offset liberal bias in textbooks, questioned Darwin's theory of evolution and the constitutional principle of separation of church and state; debated hip-hop and genocide in Darfur; deleted Albert Einstein and Thomas Alva Edison from textbooks; emphasized Christian teachings and fundamentalist values; adopted conservative articles of faith like American exceptionalism; promoted right-wing leaders and organizations like Phyllis Schlafly and the National Rifle Association; and refused to give adequate attention to Hispanic and African American contributions to U.S. and Texas history.

To no one's surprise, on the final round on Friday, the conservatives pulled a decisive victory, 10-5 -- a tally that broke along predictable party lines, Republicans to the right, Democrats to the left. Ethnic minority members stood on the losing side. According to published reports, no experts on the social sciences were consulted. Given the conservative cast of the board, whose members are elected, the changes it has proposed will stand when the final vote is taken in May.

Leaving the meeting, a Democratic board member, Mavis Knight, of Dallas, was fulminating, saying, she could not be a party to "perpetrating this fraud on the students of this state." It was not a pretty sight. The board will surely become, or has already become, the butt of jokes on late-night shows and "Saturday Night Live."

But this is not a local squabble or a local issue. It's not a colorful shoot 'em up in the Texas corral. It so happens that the Texas board is perhaps the most influential in the country. Its guidelines will affect not only the 4.7 million Texas public school students but will likely spread to many other states, from kindergarten to 12th grade for the next 10 years. Texas textbook standards are usually adopted by publishers because the state will buy 48 million of them every year, and many other states -- 47 by some counts -- will follow that model. In light of those figures, publishers will happily take their cue from the Lone Star State.

All in all, it has been a turbulent few weeks for public education in America.

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