The Texas social studies curriculum requirements which I discussed a few days ago have passed on a party line vote. Needless to say, it was the more Taliban-like party which supported remodeling our educational system more along the Soviet model to promote ideological purity.The Texas Board of Education has voted to drop the actual facts about our history down an Orwellian memory hole.
The new standards ignore the views of the founding fathers and are written based upon the mistaken belief of the Republicans that the United States was founded as a Christian country. They ignore the actual beliefs of the Founding Fathers–denying their intent to form a secular government which includes separation of church and state. Presumably to avoid being embarrassed by the writings of Thomas Jefferson, which make it clear that the First Amendment was intended to create a wall of separation between church and state, the new standards remove Jefferson from a list of enlightened thinkers in world history.
There are multiple other historical fictions which will be taught, for example:
The new standards say that the McCarthyism of the 1950s was later vindicated — something most historians deny — draw an equivalency between Jefferson Davis’s and Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural addresses, say that international institutions such as the United Nations imperil American sovereignty, and include a long list of Confederate officials about whom students must learn.
This is the second incident this week showing a problem with federalism. coming after Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul expressed opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1965. Personally I think that the reactionaries on the Texas school board who desire to use children in their political games should be charged with child abuse.
The new standards are to be instituted in the fall of 2011. One fear is that the size of the Texas market might lead publishers to change text books sold nationally to meet these standards. Several states are considering legislation to prohibit the use of text books which are rewritten on such ideological grounds. I wonder if this might even accelerate a move towards ebooks in the classrooms, making it easier to have books with different versions of history available. If hard copies are made they might even have red and blue covers.
In addition to efforts by other state legislatures to prohibit the purchase of text books written with such ideological bias I would love to see universities refuse to accept diplomas from Texas high schools and require applicants from Texas to pass a high school equivalency exam which includes actual American history.
The Texas Freedom Network has been posting information on the curriculum along with attempting to fight the changes.
Update: I now read that, in response to national criticism, Thomas Jefferson has been rehabilitated. Positively Orwellian.