Texas Board of Education strikes a blow to progressivism

Even if the health care bill fails, and if Republicans win back majority control in the House this November, the biggest conservative victory of the year probably took place this afternoon in Austin, Texas.  After years of progressive slant in social studies textbooks, the Texas State Board of Education approved a new curriculum that would include more conservative ideas. This news is particularly important because it will effect how books are written nation-wide, as publishers attempt to accommodate Texas – one of the nation’s largest buyers.

I applaud the Republican members of the Board for recognizing the left-leaning bias in our history, government and economics textbooks, and for taking action on the matter. My personal experience has been that my post-public school education has had to balance–or sometimes rewrite–many of the things I learned in K-12. That, for instance, America is not a racist, imperialist nation that has a tradition of killing or enslaving anyone who isn’t white; that government is not the default solution for all of nature’s ills; and that there are other legitimate theories of human development.

In fact, of all the “conservative” points that are now being included, the only one I had heard of as a teen was that there was no Constitutional separation of Church and State. I only learned this from my church. And it’s true – there is no separation whatsoever, outside of legislation. “Congress shall make no law…” – that’s it.

So what other craaaazy ideas do those conservatives have up their sleeves?

(pulled from New York Times)

– Talk about the conservative resurgence in the 80s and 90s, i.e. Reagan, the Heritage Foundation and the “Contract with America” that led to the first Republican house in decades.

– When teaching of the civil rights movement, ensure that students study the violent philosophy of the Black Panthers in addition to the nonviolent approach of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and mention the votes in Congress on civil rights legislation, which Republicans supported.

– Study “the unintended consequences” of the Great Society legislation, affirmative action and Title IX legislation.

– Stress that Germans and Italians as well as Japanese were interned in the United States during World War II, to counter the idea that the internment of Japanese was motivated by racism.

– Add Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek to the usual list of economists to be studied, like Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes.

– Require the teaching of “the importance of personal responsibility for life choices” in a section on teenage suicide, dating violence, sexuality, drug use and eating disorders.

This is all we have at the moment. The new curriculum requirements will be posted for 30 days before the final vote, during which time we can get a closer look.

And Democrat proposals that were rejected:

– Efforts by Hispanic board members to include more Latino figures. (Should we choose who we study based on their race?)

– Requiring that students study the reasons “the founding fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring the government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others.” (They didn’t, as clarified above)

The Houston Chronicle notes the views of Democrat Board member Mary Helen Berlanga, who said that “the standards ignore the Ku Klux Klan in Texas, Texas Rangers “killing Mexican-Americans without justification” and the U.S. Army’s role in the attempted extermination of American Indians.” (Are we trying to teach the history of our state and nation or are we trying to teach about racism and hate crimes? Perhaps future generations, looking back at 2009, should learn that America elected a half-black president, and that many white people went to “tea parties” to protest against him.” I hope the sarcasm and absurdity are clear.

The changes that will be taking place in the Texas curriculum should begin surfacing in 2011, and there will be no major revisions for another decade. The more lasting effects of a whole generation receiving a more balanced understanding of our political and economic history, and the philosophies which shaped them, could be felt for years to come.

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