A Good Texas Education

Before he became the first African American Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall brought Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka Kansas before that body. As Chief Counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Marshall successfully argued this school desegregation case and others that paved the way for African Americans to fully realize their rights as American citizens.

Before Barack Obama rode the motto to the White House, Cesar Chavez led the members of what would become the United Farm Workers Union to say “Yes, we can!” (or “Si, se puede!”)as they fought to organize and improve working conditions for farm workers in California. Chavez and his movement pioneered some of the tactics used by those who fight for social justice today such as boycotts.

In addition to being one of America’s founding fathers, the author of the Declaration of Independence, and our nation’s third president, Thomas Jefferson inspired revolutionaries in the 18th and 19th centuries to fight for freedom in other countries. He also fought for freedom of religion (or freedom from religion) in this country.

Now why do I bring up the accomplishments of these three people?

Because if you live in Texas, you’ll have to teach this stuff to your kids yourself.

On Friday, the Texas Board of Education voted 10-5 to require the state’s history textbooks to have a more conservative slant, meaning the following will be part of what you learn about history in Texas:

*There was never such a thing as the separation of church and state.

*”Capitalism” is being replaced by “free-market system” in all books that talk about economics because “free-market system” is warmer and fuzzier because we all know that “capitalism” is great!

*Sen. Joseph McCarthy was right. There were communists in all branches of government so he had a right to bring people before Congress, accuse them of stuff, and cause folks to rat out their neighbors.

*The Japanese Internment wasn’t racist because we locked up Germans during World War II as well.

*While the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was the face of the Civil Rights Movement, those violent Black Panthers were there, too. Besides, King and the other African Americans who marched for their rights weren’t the main people responsible for the advancements in civil rights. They wouldn’t have been able to do anything without the votes of those kind, white Republicans in Congress.

(Wow. Somewhere Hillary Clinton is smiling. Her argument during the 2008 Presidential Campaign has now become a part of someone’s curriculum!)

*The students will be taught about the Republican resurgence, the Moral Majority, the Contract With America, and the National Rifle Association.

These are just the highlights. Other bits include the “unintended consequences” of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Great Society programs, Title IX, and Affirmative Action, a unit on teenage suicide that includes a discussion on “the personal responsibility for life choices” and more of the writings of John Calvin, William Blackistone, and St. Thomas Aquinas because they, unlike Jefferson, believe that there is no separation between church and state.

Now here’s the funny part of all of this. Teachers, actual teachers, approved these revisions.

(If you’re paying attention President Obama, the next time that you want to fire some teachers, might I recommend these guys?)

Now under normal circumstances, I’d just laugh this off and say, “Well, if Texas wants to perpetrate its own special brand of miseducation, it’s more than welcome to it.”

But when you consider that textbook publishers tailor their textbooks to places like Texas because of the volume of kids they educate, it could have an impact on states where, I don’t know, people want their kids to learn all of America’s history, not just the parts that make us look good.

Besides, unless all of the kids in Texas wind up at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, they’re going to learn all of the truths the folks on the Texas Board of Education are trying to keep from them in college. The complaints about this that these kids will surely register will most likely bring David Horowitz and his “we believe in free thought unless it’s thought we don’t like” crusaders to their various campuses.

My Significant Other and I heard about this decision on NPR while going out to brunch today and it inspired the kind of profanity laden tirade that could only come from a true educator. He believes that kids are only truly educated if that education is all-inclusive.

As someone who’s trying to be an educator herself, I can’t say as though I disagree with him.

The rules are supposed to come up for a final vote in May. Because the board will probably still be dominated by conservatives, they’re probably going to pass.

One of my Best Buds has a granddaughter who lives in Texas. She’s a really bright kid who has, fortunately, been taught a lot of the stuff that’s going to be banned from history education in Texas from her grandmother.

But if my friend wants to make sure that her head doesn’t end up totally twisted, she might want to bring her, and her other grandkids, to Pennsylvania. We may not be perfect, but you can learn about Thomas Jefferson here.

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