Last Friday, the Texas Board of Education—stacked with socially conservative Republicans by Governor Rick Perry—approved a new social studies curriculum that would essentially rewrite history in favor of a right-leaning political agenda.
After the vote, Mavis B. Knight, a Democrat from Dallas told the NY Times, “The social conservatives have perverted accurate history to fulfill their own agenda.”
These curriculum changes are the same ones we wrote about back in Jan. which also encompassed an amendment to remove activist and community leader Cesar Chavez from the history books. Unfortunately for the rest of the country, the vote in Texas has implications that can reverberate throughout school systems in every state. Why does Texas have so much power? Because of the huge size of the state and the enormity of the population of school age (mostly Latino) children. Ironic, huh?
Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board went so far as to blatantly admit playing politics with childrens education. “We are adding balance,” he said after the vote. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”
Among the 100-plus amendments to the curriculum approved by the board were:
- A rejection of the notion of constitutional separation of Church and State
- Questioning the secular nature of the American Revolution and rejecting the notion asserted by Ms. Knight that "the founding fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring the government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others.”
- Replacing “capitalism” throughout the texts with “free-enterprise system,” because as conservative Terri Leo noted, “Let’s face it, capitalism does have a negative connotation. You know, ‘capitalist pig!’ ”
- Forcing students to study “the unintended consequences” of the Great Society legislation, affirmative action and Title IX legislation.
- Cutting Thomas Jefferson off a list of writers who inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, and replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone
- Teaching kids about “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.”
Efforts made by board members like Mary Helen Berlanga, to push forward amendments that would include more Latinos and accurately reflect the population of the state were roundly rejected. Berlanga left the meeting furious, telling reporters, “They can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist. They are going overboard, they are not experts, they are not historians,” she continued. “They are rewriting history, not only of Texas but of the United States and the world.”