Thursday, March 25, 2010

do you like the things that life is showing you

Not sure if people are aware, but a few crazies on the Texas State Board of Education are trying to rewrite state curricula to correct "liberal bias" with a lot of questionable hokum from the furthest batshit crazy hinterlands of conservative thought. Since Texas is one of the largest textbook markets in the country, material written to cater to them will leak into everyone else's textbooks too, which is troubling when you consider what they're trying to change. Read up about all that here, then click below if you want to read the letter I wrote for an online petition targeting Pearson Education, McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Macmillan. The italicized words are theirs. The other stuff is all me.

I am writing to urge you not to lower your standards to appease the anti-science, ultra-conservatives on the Texas State Board of Education who are seeking to rewrite history to reflect a far-right ideology.

As a publisher of textbooks, you are an important steward of education. Do not bend to pressure from a few ideologues in Texas. Parents, teachers, librarians and children are depending on you to stop this attack on our educational system.

This is a far cry from the usual paleoconservative, Great White Men angle of history. The TSBE aren't even making ideological edits to the history standards -- they're just making completely insane ones.

Let's look at some examples. Their proposed edits hype the value of small government, states' rights and founder-worship while removing Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and one of the era's foremost anti-federalists, from the Enlightenment section. I'm guessing Jefferson is being cut because he was a deist, which offends them in some irrational way they have yet to explain.

Further, they reject emphasizing that some colonies were founded for religious freedom (Massachusetts, Maryland, etc.) even though keeping that information would show that religious motivations factored heavily into the founding of the colonies. The only reason anyone right-of-center would strike that from the record is because they think "religious freedom" is a dog-whistle phrase for "separation of church and state."

For crying out loud, these people struck "democracy" in favor of "constitutional republic" because they think the words are tied to the current definitions and platforms of the Democratic and Republican parties.

The list could go on all day. Their mangling of history has gone beyond partisanship - from the looks of it, they have no belief system beyond a handful of binary judgments about the nature of the world and an almost psychotic devotion to a few key figures in the Republican party who they've removed from context and placed in a philosophical vacuum of their own making.

How many of them are teachers? Or historians? Or administrators? How many of them have anything to recommend themselves to the dialogue besides anger? Considering the nature of their edits, not much. Please, from one citizen to another, don't let future generations' understanding of history fall prey to the whims of a few uninformed reactionaries.

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