Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fancy book-larnin’…Texas Style!

Texas I read this Washington Post piece about the nationwide influence of the Texas Board of Education first on PZ Myers' blog, then Darren and Dan posted it on Facebook (thanks to all). It's a long one, but it's one I read all the way through because I think it's important. If you get a chance, I encourage you to read the entire thing.

I found it shocking, dismaying, and appalling to realize that these yahoos are influencing what American children are learning in school. They make no bones about their anti-science bias and their desire to have creationism, despite its obvious fallacy, taught in schools. This is bad enough, but they don't stop there; they want to rewrite history.

  • They have sought to remove the New Deal from a timeline of significant historical events because some thought it was a little too socialist in nature
  • They want to call Reagan's 1983 military intervention in Grenada a “rescue” rather than an “invasion”
  • They demanded that publishers remove illustrations of techniques for breast self-examination
  • They wanted publishers to exchange a photo of a woman carrying a briefcase for one of a mother baking a cake
  • They feel that Joseph McCarthy has been "vindicated," and want him to take his place in American history as some sort of hero
  • They want textbooks to highlight conflicts with Islamic cultures, and to portray them as part of the West's ongoing battle with Muslim extremists
  • They agree that people like Martin Luther King Jr. have a place in history, but they feel that they shouldn’t be given credit for advancing the rights of minorities (because only majorities can do that)
  • They mandated the teaching of climate-change denial; they removed any reference to the universe being roughly fourteen billion years old, because that doesn't jibe with biblical accounts of creation

Texas approved Going beyond politics, history, and science, they even had issue with the language arts teams (mostly teachers and curriculum planners), saying that their draft submissions didn't focus enough on basic grammar and focused too much on reading comprehension and critical thinking. One of the conservative board members (an insurance salesman with no college degree) said, “This critical-thinking stuff is gobbledygook.”

You know, to him, I don't doubt that it was.

The problem here is that Texas has a huge influence on what is published in textbooks that are used nationwide; California also a huge influence and a more liberal one, but with their budget problems, they won't be adopting new textbooks for a while. This leaves Texas and its reactionary, right wing Board in charge of what kids are learning all across the nation.

Educators across the country are taking notice, and the lock of these ultra-conservatives on the board seems to be waning. But when such a group of people has a major say in what is taught in American classrooms, everyone needs to take notice. I may not have kids of my own, but I do care about the future of this country, and I want our kids to be taught sound science, accurate history, and yes, critical thinking! I don't want our curricula coming from a bunch of addle-brained idiots blinded by their religion. Here's a quote from Don McElroy, who was the Chairman of the Board until he got a little too far right even for Texans, and the state legislature refused to confirm him for another term:

Hillbilly kid“Remember Superman? The never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way? Well, that fight is still going on. There are people out there who want to replace truth with political correctness. Instead of the American way they want multiculturalism. We plan to fight back—and, when it comes to textbooks, we have the power to do it. Sometimes it boggles my mind the kind of power we have.”

Multiculturalism? I wonder where McElroy's ancestors hail from? McElroy, McElroy...sounds sort of...I don't know...IRISH to me. He obviously doesn't give a rat's ass about the history of his own people, who were looked down upon as ignorant potato farmers by the people who had been keeping house here already for several decades, who also weren't from here originally! It's this kind of ignorance and intolerance that makes me go out of my mind with frustration, and the thought of this dipshit having a hand in what children other than his own (poor little rug rats will probably end up just like their idiot dad, unless they start doing some critical thinking) are taught in school should make us all very afraid.

And yes, that's right--the guy helping to choose the textbooks of our nation's children is referencing a fucking comic book as some sort of ideal America.


  1. Great entry! I will read all of that Washington Post article. I saw a reference to this in the most recent American English Doctor post (americanenglishdoctor.com), and it was making reference to an article in EducationNews.org about the Texas Board of Education (both good articles you might like to read). This is one reason why I am glad to be home schooling Eler Beth. Of course, it is no secret to you that I do believe in creation and a Creator. But I am NOT a creationist. They believe in six literal days of creation, whereas I believe in six creative "days", which could be thousands of years long as far as we know. Why would our 24 hour "days" be the same as a "day" for God, anyway? Regardless I don't want schools teaching my kids religion anyway, let alone re-writing history. And critical thinking is "gobbledygook"? Good grief! Parents across the country certainly need to be aware of what these people are seeking to do. It's the only defense we have if want a sound education for our children.

  2. They are really out of control in Texas. The religious right wingnuts are hijacking the education system and promoting the poisoning of our children's minds with their propaganda (read garbage). You may recall that a little over a year ago the science specialist at the Texas Education Agency was fired because she had sent information to teachers in the field that mentioned evolution, and they felt it was a little too radical. http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2007/12/texas-science-c/
    How sad.

  3. i will have to expound on this tomorrow. too tired to see straight but it all comes down to textbook adoption states = big money for book publishers, and other states who have local control are forced into getting the 'standard' book because they can't afford the revisions. we have michigan math texts from 2005 that are now OBSOLETE because the state has changed the requirements. at my job this means i am pulling pages from here, there and everywhere to make sure my kids get the required content because the book is freakin' useless as anything else other than a doorstop.


  4. Oh boy, Beth, this is a juicy one. First of all Superman was an immigrant wasn't he? From another planet? What would he know about the American way? I wonder what the Board would do if he showed up in that ridiculous costume.

    Critical thinking? There is either critical thinking or there is no thinking. Naturally they don't want their kids to think. When you think you get ideas and ideas are dangerous. They tend to change things.

    Creationism: People should get over the idea that the word "days" has anything to do with time. It isn't a day or a year or a thousand years. It's a figure of speech having to do with enlightenment.

    Martin Luther King: "Natchahly its only us white folks that can improve the negrah race." That's an old song that's been out of tune since the begining.

    I was in High School during the MacArthy hearings. It was great entertainment until you found out how much damage it was doing to people.

    History: Of course we have to change that. Let's go back to calling the Civil War the War of Northern Agression.

    And don't forget about those Commies. They're still trying to take over our country, only now they're doing it from outer space.

    The frightening thing, Beth, is that those lunatics on the Board in Texas and elsewhere actually walk among us.


  5. The frustrating thing is that this has been going on for ages! When I began teaching in 1984, Texas had the textbook industry by the balls. At that time, there was a married couple who were constantly bringing challenges against textbooks in the Texas courts. They attempted to rewrite history to suit their point of view. This is why so many teachers use supplementary texts to try and actually teach factual history rather than the Texas version that omits anything that is deemed to be anti-American. I love your reflections on multiculturalism and his whole Superman analogy!

  6. You know, it can be exhausting reading the ill-thought out notions of some of these selfish idiots. They form their own uneducated opinions and try to brush them off as fact, parading stupidity and fear as 'American Values.' BS, my dear, that is what they are peddling. They will continue blathering on about a return to a simpler time, all the while trying to cover up their own inadequacies, like a low IQ, low self-esteem, tiny d*cks, and a relatively tenuous grasp on reality.

  7. Just read the article and they mention the couple whose name I couldn't recall, the Gablers. They were the purveyors of absolute idiocy when it came to the content of textbooks when I began teaching in 1984.

  8. You know, as a former high school teacher I sat in on a textbook adoption committee or two. It was the one of the most frustrating experience of my teaching career!

    I looked at history textbooks that were so watered down and it saddened me greatly. When I was told Texas is one of the most influential states in the textbook publishing companies I was incensed.

    Oddly enough, I saw one textbook that addressed the George H.W. Bush's (daddy Bush) election. The textbook said his campaign was one of the dirtiest campaigns ever fashioned. Needless to say, that book was NOT chosen by our school.


  9. An excellent book is entitled 'Lies My Teacher Told Me - Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong' by James W. Loewen. It is a MUST read!

  10. You know the saying, "Stupid should hurt", in this case it could very well be damaging beyond repair. Why do I get the feeling this lunacy is heading toward civil unrest, possibly a civil war. After all the South had it right the first time (sarcasm obviously to those who don't get it).

    One of the things that keeps rising to the forefront is change. People are so afraid of change, they're willing to rewrite history to keep this country stunted and crippled.

    Me? I'm still wondering how uneducated bigots get to choose what educates the masses. Perhaps if they embraced a little more of that "goobley gook" that conforms as critical thinking they might realize just how back-wards they truly are. Last I heard the spelling for intelligence wasn't:


  11. Between reading you, Norm Chomsky and my one natural predilection to believe in the conspiracy of overachieving idiots, I am at a loss for words.

    You know, I am thinking that willful ignorance should be a sin as well. How can people believe in things they can't see but reject the things that they can?

  12. It is amazing how there are certain elements of society, where the players are kind of hidden, but they have a huge impact, which will not be seen for years. Makes me wonder where else besides text books and school boards they are lurking.

  13. This is so maddening and frustrating. These people aren't promoting learning, they are promoting ignorance and religion.

    Great post.


  14. Furthermore, these idiots are doing something they always accuse gay people of doing. They are promoting a LIFESTYLE ... women baking cakes instead of working, people distrusting Islam, and the denial of environmentalism.

    Fuck them. Fuck them all.

  15. I know that this is not new by any means, but what in the name of god is happening down there? Why do these lunatics have so much power? I live in Canada, near the border. I will leave the door open for any of you intelligent, sane Americans who would like to come up and live in a country that is at least somewhat "normal", has decent health care, all the Labatt's Blue you want to drink,and is not run by a moral majority --we actually separate church and state up here. Please run, don't walk to your nearest border crossing.

  16. Beth they are out of control in TX. The religious conservatives are hijacking the education system there. They are promoting their own agenda, which is counter to all this nation stands for and unfortunately they are gaining a lot of ground.

    It is really somewhat strange because TX is a red state, but there are almost as many blue voters as there are red voters. I constantly wonder what is going on behind closed doors that we just don't get to see.

  17. I actually heard about this a few months ago and find I am still as horrified now as I was then.


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