Lies, Damned Lies, and Conservative School Boards

Texas strikes me as a scarier and scarier place to live; in the push to reform state social studies standards, the Texas Board of Education appointed 6 outside reviewers, 3 from the conservative side and 3 from the more moderate side of the Board. From a Wall Street Journal Article:

The reviewers appointed by conservatives include two who run conservative Christian organizations: David Barton, founder of WallBuilders, a group that promotes America’s Christian heritage; and Rev. Marshall, who preaches that Watergate, the Vietnam War and Hurricane Katrina were God’s judgments on the nation’s sexual immorality…The conservative reviewers say they believe that children must learn that America’s founding principles are biblical. For instance, they say the separation of powers set forth in the Constitution stems from a scriptural understanding of man’s fall and inherent sinfulness, or “radical depravity,” which means he can be governed only by an intricate system of checks and balances. The curriculum, they say, should clearly present Christianity as an overall force for good — and a key reason for American exceptionalism, the notion that the country stands above and apart.

Oh my good gracious. As a keen amateur historian, I’m well aware of the role religion has played in shaping the nation’s history. But this just smacks of modern conservatism and evangelism riding roughshod over thinking critically about the history of the United States, and how to teach it. And mocking the principle of the separation of church and state by attempting to indoctrinate children into an evangelist, republican, white-privileged, Ameri-centric, and patriarchal view of society (based on their individual suggestions of which historical figures and events to include, remove, or de-emphasize).

Not to show my bias or anything.

Full reports from each of the reviewers are available here.

What makes this so terrible is that Texas is *SO* huge. Where Texas goes with standards and curricula, there go the textbook companies and testing companies, and there follows the rest of the country. So it’s not just about what the crazies down in Texas are teaching their children, which is important, but it’s also about how what they teach influences the books and other materials that are available to everyone else.


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