The Texas Textbook Massacre

March 15, 2010

Did you know that the founding fathers never intended to prevent the U.S. government from promoting one religion over another? How about the one where Thomas Jefferson never did much of anything for this country because his Deist views on the separation of church and state did not agree with “historical” accounts of the country’s founding principles?

You say you never learned that in history class? Well no worries, because your kids might learn it if the Texas Board of Education gets their way. The board recently voted on a number of changes to the curriculum standards that would require the schools to teach history in a way that serves the predominantly Evangelical Christian agenda of many of the board members. Because all textbooks used in Texas school districts are required to meet the standards set by the Board, the fifteen member body has effectively just re-written over 200 years of history with a few simple votes. This means that students in Texas will not be taught the truth about what our founding fathers thought about religious liberty; and instead will learn that the United States is a “Christian nation,” where the only religious freedom one has is to decide what denomination you are. The Texas Freedom Network—which has been closely following the proceedings—reported:

“Today, the Texas State Board of Education voted to reject an amendment to social studies curriculum standards that would require students to learn that the nation's Founders "protected religious freedom by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others." The party-line vote -- 10 Republicans against and 5 Democrats in favor of the amendment -- strips away any pretense that this board respects one of the most important freedoms enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.”

Reading this, we have to question whether or not the Texas BoE has even read the Constitution or any of the writings of the founding fathers.

The list of changes does not stop there, however. The board also required references to Margaret Sanger to be included, but not in any positive light. Her staunch advocacy of birth control was conveniently left out of the standards, and the changes instead focused around her discussion of eugenics, taking a predominantly positive advocate of women’s progress and slandering her based on a few disagreeable personal views.

If all of this sounds familiar, that’s because the Board attempted to do the exact same thing last year with science standards by attempting to introduce creationism into the curriculum. Now they are back again to gut history in their quest to re-make the United States into an evangelical nation by indoctrinating our youth, who assume that they are learning the true history of our country in school. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a threat of Orwellian proportions.

Because Texas is such a large state, many textbook manufacturers look to the Texas standards first when creating their books. They do not manufacture books separately for each state, but instead look at what to include based on the curriculum standards of their largest markets. Effectively, this means that textbooks for up to 48 other states (California practically has its own market) could include these same “historical” lessons.

Summing it all up, Kathy Miller, President of the Texas Freedom Network had this to say of the changes: “It is the most crazy-making thing to sit there and watch a dentist and an insurance salesman rewrite curriculum standards in science and history. Last year, Don McLeroy believed he was smarter than the National Academy of Sciences, and he now believes he’s smarter than professors of American history.” If so, he also believes that documents such as the United States Treaty with Tripoli—which states unequivocally “The government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”—do not exist. Bet you never learned that one in history class either.

George (Washington) help us.

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