Is Our Children Learning?

I lived in Texas for almost a year during my early twenties.  I could not perceive any danger that the populace was disrespectful towards the conservative movements of the 1980s and 90s. By and large, people believed that women should defer to men, that capitalism is next to (or perhaps even equivalent to) godliness, and that keeping one’s guns is the best way to enforce these beliefs. Moreover, any advances made by Latinos or African-Americans were often perceived by whites as the product of some political trickery. So unless there has been a radical shift to the left in the Lone Star State since I lived there, it’s hard to see any legitimate purpose to the Board of Education’s party-line votes to amend the social studies and economic curricula for the state. Instead, the move seems to be intended to further alienate the millions of Texans who hold minority viewpoints.

The new standards would offer some justification of McCarthy's anti-communist witch hunt. Above, poet Langston Hughes is called to testify about his political leanings after writing a poem that criticized Christianity's role in oppression.

Some highlights of what’s to be included or emphasized more favorably include:

  • A challenge to the validity of the wall of separation between church and state
  • Study of Phyllis Schlafly, the NRA, the Heritage Foundation, and the Contract with America.
  • Credit to Republicans for advancing civil rights
  • Justification for McCarthy’s red-baiting and the House Un-American Activities Committee
  • The importance of personal responsibility in regards to suicide, sexual assault, and eating disorders

Here’s what’s out, de-emphasized, or cast unfavorably:

  • Writings of Thomas Jefferson and other Enlightenment thinkers
  • The New Deal
  • Explaining that racism was a motivator for the mass internments of Japanese and Japanese-Americans during World War II
  • The Great Society legislation
  • Capitalism—the word, not the concept. From now on it’s to be called the free-enterprise system

In addition, the board rejected proposals to add discussion of Latino leaders or to discuss the role of Senator Edward Kennedy in shaping federal policy.

Incredibly, as the board opened its meeting on March 10, the agenda was attacked by Fox News as giving too much to the people who hate America and Christmas.

A public comment period on the new curriculum will begin in mid-April. Until then, the one lesson that will be taught most effectively to the new generation in Texas is indeed historical in nature: To the victor goes the spoils. Just like Jesus and Reagan would have wanted it.

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