Even though I still consider myself a Texan, I don’t live there anymore. I certainly don’t have any children in Texas schools, so how and what the Texas Board of Education decides to teach the children of their state really shouldn’t concern me. It shouldn’t. But it does.
The practical reason, of course, is that textbooks created for the education system of Texas inevitably end up in school systems across the country. It’s such a huge market for textbooks that the major publishers are willing to bow to their wishes when revisions to history are requested, and the rest of the country can take it or leave it. This is not the first time Texas has skewed history for children all over the U.S.
This time, it seems, Thomas Jefferson was getting way too much credit for his role as a founding father. Writing the Declaration of Independence and most of the Constitution clearly just makes him a glory hog. The Texas board wants his responsibility in the creation of this country pared down a bit. That separation of church and state thing apparently still pisses them off.
On the other hand, there are some important figures of the past that the board feels are getting short-changed at the checkout stand of history. Confederate President Jefferson Davis is one of them. The Texas board feels that Jeff’s presidency should be treated more on an equal par with Abraham Lincoln’s. I mean, it’s only fair. He was a president, too.
Another much maligned, and unfairly disparaged character from the more recent past is Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. The board feels he’s been poorly treated by historians, and would like to see his image rehabilitated a little. The fact that he was a demagogue, a drunk, and an unrepentant liar shouldn’t completely overshadow the possibility that there really may have been communists in the federal government. I mean, really. He could have been right.
There are over 100 such “adjustments” to the state curriculum by the board, and these aren’t even the most egregious. These are just the easiest to make fun of. And, I’m afraid that the impracticality of it is not what’s really gotten up my nose. I think it’s more emotional than that.
What has happened in Texas, again, is that a handful of appointed and elected political hacks with a social and political agenda have been empowered to second-guess and overrule the panel of professional educators charged with creating the social studies curriculum for the state’s school children. They have, once again, held the state up to national and international ridicule, but worse, they seek to cheat the children of Texas of an honest and unbiased education.
This board, without a single educator or historian among them, has chosen to rewrite history to suit themselves and their own narrow ideology. No one cares if they wish to go through life ill-prepared and ignorant. Clearly they don’t mind. But to impose systematic, state sponsored ignorance on an entire generation of school children is immoral.
Shame on them.
This small band of ideologues is being allowed to lead the next generation of Texans into intellectual bankruptcy. The parents of Texas expect and deserve better for their children. They need to stand up and demand it. Now. Before the books are printed.