Tuesday, March 16, 2010

James C. McKinley Jr.: Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change

(Dialogic recommends James Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong as a good prep for the history of this American school textbook misinformation/disinformation/propaganda effort and Texas' inordinate influence on national textbook adoption policies. Report via Michael Marchman.)

Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change
The New York Times

AUSTIN, Tex. — After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.

The vote was 10 to 5 along party lines, with all the Republicans on the board voting for it.

The board, whose members are elected, has influence beyond Texas because the state is one of the largest buyers of textbooks. In the digital age, however, that influence has diminished as technological advances have made it possible for publishers to tailor books to individual states.

In recent years, board members have been locked in an ideological battle between a bloc of conservatives who question Darwin’s theory of evolution and believe the Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles, and a handful of Democrats and moderate Republicans who have fought to preserve the teaching of Darwinism and the separation of church and state.

Since January, Republicans on the board have passed more than 100 amendments to the 120-page curriculum standards affecting history, sociology and economics courses from elementary to high school. The standards were proposed by a panel of teachers.

“We are adding balance,” said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”

Battles over what to put in science and history books have taken place for years in the 20 states where state boards must adopt textbooks, most notably in California and Texas. But rarely in recent history has a group of conservative board members left such a mark on a social studies curriculum.

Efforts by Hispanic board members to include more Latino figures as role models for the state’s large Hispanic population were consistently defeated, prompting one member, Mary Helen Berlanga, to storm out of a meeting late Thursday night, saying, “They can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist.”

To Read the Rest of the Article

More reports:

(via Betsy Taylor) Huffington Post: Texas Textbook MASSACRE -- 'Ultraconservatives' Approve Radical Changes To State Education Curriculum which provides this nugget: "The Board removed Thomas Jefferson from the Texas curriculum's world history standards on Enlightenment thinking, 'replacing him with religious right icon John Calvin.'”

No comments: