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"Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan—he needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes."
January 4, 2010 1:49 PM   Subscribe

Revisionaries: How a group of Texas conservatives is rewriting your kids’ textbooks.
posted by defenestration (258 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
Among other things, they aim to rehabilitate Joseph McCarthy, bring global-warming denial into science class, and downplay the contributions of the civil rights movement.

OK. I got that far before being blinded by rage which rendered me incapable of continuing. I'll try again when I stop hyperventilating. If the facts don't suit your agenda, change the facts. Jesus fucking Christ.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:57 PM on January 4, 2010 [26 favorites]


And when it comes to textbooks, what happens in Texas rarely stays in Texas. The reasons for this are economic: Texas is the nation’s second-largest textbook market and one of the few biggies where the state picks what books schools can buy rather than leaving it up to the whims of local districts, which means publishers that get their books approved can count on millions of dollars in sales. As a result, the Lone Star State has outsized influence over the reading material used in classrooms nationwide, since publishers craft their standard textbooks based on the specs of the biggest buyers. As one senior industry executive told me, “Publishers will do whatever it takes to get on the Texas list.”


I remember reading about this in the excellent book Lies My Teacher Told Me. Nice to see nothing has changed in the decade and a half since that book was written!
posted by lunasol at 1:58 PM on January 4, 2010 [16 favorites]


Oh, goody, you quoted the part I wanted to take issue with.
Yeah, Reagan. Uh-huh. He did sign off on the funding for the CIA to supply the Mujaheddin with Russian arms and anti-aircraft weapons, technology, ammo, and training. You know, that whole Charlie Wilson's War thing. That was all Reagan's idea. He told Charlie to do it. Yep.

Sigh.
This is where a clue-by-four would be nice.
posted by daq at 1:58 PM on January 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Home schooling looks pretty good if this is the alternative.
posted by nushustu at 1:59 PM on January 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


I didn't even get that far, BitterOldPunk.
posted by pjern at 1:59 PM on January 4, 2010


"the good economy over the last twenty years"

ahahahaha
posted by enn at 2:01 PM on January 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm with BitterOldPunk. I got to that point, said to myself, "I'm under a lot of stress today, and I don't really need to add to it," swore a couple of times under my breath, and closed the tab.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:01 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Related.
posted by nola at 2:02 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


“I don’t care what the educational political lobby and their allies on the left say,” he declared at one point. “Evolution is hooey.”

This statement is great for letting a person know that they should find a different and more capable partner in the discussion, for example a table or an ottoman.
posted by mullingitover at 2:03 PM on January 4, 2010 [38 favorites]


With childlike glee, McLeroy flipped through the pages and explained what he saw as the gaping holes in Darwin’s theory. “I don’t care what the educational political lobby and their allies on the left say,” he declared at one point. “Evolution is hooey.” This bled into a rant about American history. “The secular humanists may argue that we are a secular nation,” McLeroy said, jabbing his finger in the air for emphasis. “But we are a Christian nation founded on Christian principals. The way I evaluate history textbooks is first I see how they cover Christianity and Israel. Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan—he needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes.”

*head explodes*

Cleanup on Aisle 88009.
posted by zarq at 2:03 PM on January 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


BitterOldPunk, your problem is that you are both reading and comprehending. Apparently things go much better if you just read:

In 2007, the English language arts writing teams, made up mostly of teachers and curriculum planners, turned in the drafts they had been laboring over for more than two years. The ultraconservatives argued that they were too light on basics like grammar and too heavy on reading comprehension and critical thinking. “This critical-thinking stuff is gobbledygook,” grumbled David Bradley, an insurance salesman with no college degree, who often acts as the faction’s enforcer.
posted by tractorfeed at 2:03 PM on January 4, 2010 [64 favorites]


This is a topic which does not nearly get enough attention relative to its importance. Thanks for making this post.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:04 PM on January 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


I got a bit further than BitterOldPunk before I couldn't take it any longer: On the global front, Barton and company want textbooks to play up clashes with Islamic cultures, particularly where Muslims were the aggressors, and to paint them as part of an ongoing battle between the West and Muslim extremists. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, America has apparently always been at war with Islamic terrorists.

What makes me even more mad is that I got no new information from reading this article. Other than LOLConservatives and OutrageFilter, was there any point in posting this?
posted by daniel_charms at 2:06 PM on January 4, 2010


that is some bizarre shit right there. I read the whole thing - it gets worse. E.g. Trying to get the word "democratic" changed to "republican" such that "America's form of government is republican".
posted by awfurby at 2:07 PM on January 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


daniel_charms, do you think everyone automatically has the same information in their brains that you have in yours?

Pope Guilty, if that wasn't HAMBURGER'd, then no problem. It is an extremely important issue and this article is a great overview. I try to stay up-to-date on this stuff, and even I didn't know about some of this bullshit.

Also, this was a frustrating read. It's like an endurance test.
posted by defenestration at 2:11 PM on January 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


I like to print these kinds of articles and take them to the gym for that boost of rage-strength towards the end of a hard workout.
posted by The Straightener at 2:11 PM on January 4, 2010 [24 favorites]


want asplodey headedness? try living in this shit hole state.
posted by Seamus at 2:11 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


What makes me even more mad is that I got no new information from reading this article. Other than LOLConservatives and OutrageFilter, was there any point in posting this?

how about because I got a ton of new information from this. I had no idea this was going on in Texas, or anywhere for that matter.
posted by shmegegge at 2:12 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was in a conference at Austin college, Texas (randomly submitted a paper from my home-based in Toronto) last year. The subject was 'Darwinism in America', but the real impetus for the meeting was to discuss this revision of the state's text books. Teachers from multiple schools (public, private, Catholic private) came up to discuss their experiences largely teaching grade school. Not only did some of these poor teachers have to tactfully handle children who would literally recite lists of talking points from their ministers, some of the more charismatic would actually organize boycotts and have the entire class walk out when the teacher would approach evolution even as a contested idea.

However, that this process goes beyond just evolution and even the natural sciences is of real importance:

“This critical-thinking stuff is gobbledygook,” grumbled David Bradley, an insurance salesman with no college degree

One professor gave a lecture on how these groups have influenced other disciplines. She told a harrowing story of how her committee was told that rote learning (the Bible was considered a good text for the kids) should take precedent over comprehensive reading. The real travesty of this is that is that wealthier families often send their children to private schools that have more freedom in setting their curriculum. So these changes will most effect the poor and minorities.

Great post. Thanks a lot.
posted by ogallalaknowhow at 2:12 PM on January 4, 2010 [24 favorites]


or trying to teach in said state.
posted by Seamus at 2:13 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, why do these people want America to fail? Seriously. This is how you destroy a civilization. They are the Ministry of Truth. They want to rewrite history because according to them, we have always been at war with Eastasia.

I swear it would be funny if it weren't so sad. We seriously need to test people for comprehension and critical thinking skills. Hell, we shouldn't even call it critical thinking. It's just thinking, period. If you can't do that, you are a parrot. Which is apparently what these people in the article are. They just parrot whatever their chosen demigogue of the week says. And even then they get it wrong half the time.
posted by daq at 2:14 PM on January 4, 2010 [44 favorites]


As much as I would like to see most of the payola-based textbook industry die, I shudder to think how ugly this will get once textbooks are all electronic and infinitely malleable.

Nice post. We need to drag the Texas Taliban Troglodytes kicking and screaming into the light, where everyone can see the crazy oozing from them.
posted by benzenedream at 2:15 PM on January 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


An educated person can actually defend the idea that the US is more of a republic than a democracy.
I shall not. Mainly because my head already hurts.
posted by Seamus at 2:16 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


As a sort of aside, in 1964, Richard Feynman flipped the fuck out when he tried to serve on California's Curriculum Commission.

But that's the way all the books were: They said things that were useless, mixed-up, ambiguous, confusing, and partially incorrect. How anybody can learn science from these books, I don't know, because it's not science.
posted by Skot at 2:17 PM on January 4, 2010 [22 favorites]


I fully appreciate the anger among our more enlightened Metafilter readers, but this is hardly something brand new...been going on for some time now and mentioned any number of times in various places. What is sad, though, is that nothing has changed!
posted by Postroad at 2:18 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


To avoid tangling with the Gablers and other citizen activists, many publishers started self-censoring or allowing the couple to weigh in on textbooks in advance.

Wow. How is it that anti-science can be propelled so far by one couple? They're just two people! Couldn't they be out-weighed by four very dynamic and passionate scientists?

Now is the time to embrace online media. No need to be tied to one book, nor let publishers get bullied by the ridiculous right. Make the Texas Edition and Edition for Everyone Else. Let schools save the money used on buying masses of books that would be defaced by unruly kids, and instead make print-outs that can be updated as often as necessary (or revise the sheets yourself!)
posted by filthy light thief at 2:18 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fuck, Texas. I mean.....just......FUUUUCK!!!

from Texas. not there anymore. sorry for the outburst.
posted by nosila at 2:18 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pope Guilty, if that wasn't HAMBURGER'd, then no problem.

I would like to think that my sarcasm is usually pretty obvious. I am being dead serious here. We are allowing people who value ignorance, small-mindedness, hate, and political exigencies to coerce our educators to lie to children in order to achieve their political ends. This is something I view as akin to treasonous; by allowing them to get away with playing Minitrue, we are poisoning not only our children but our very society. I appreciate any efforts to drag them screaming into the light for all to see their crimes.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:19 PM on January 4, 2010 [23 favorites]


How anybody can learn science from these books, I don't know, because it's not science.

It's cheaper for large states like California and Texas to buy "science" textbooks in bulk. Creationism sells for pennies on the dollar.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:20 PM on January 4, 2010




Postroad - when I was in school in rural Texas 20 years ago, there was no talk of creationism, and evolution was a fact. I know that's awhile back and things have been going this way for awhile, but this article makes the point that the religious have now gained such a firm grip of the state board of education that they are able to do things that would previously have been stopped. Like, for instance, exonerate McCarthy of wrongdoing and downplay the importance of CIVIL. FRICKIN. RIGHTS.

Could somebody please pry the gun from Texas's cold, dead hand already? Seriously, I have always loved the state like I love my crazy religious televangelist grandmother, but I'm tired of this.
posted by nosila at 2:22 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


The political bias of textbooks is an evergreen that is great for tripping your outrage switch, but honestly it matters less than who the teachers are, and how involved parents are in their children's education.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 2:24 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


How much does it cost to write, verify, edit, and publish a science textbook? How is this not a charitable project already? Gates Foundation, I'm looking at you. Do you know how hard it is to find an HIV vaccine when nobody is educated enough to become a medical research, hmm?
posted by jock@law at 2:24 PM on January 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


while they concede that people like Martin Luther King Jr. deserve a place in history, they argue that they shouldn’t be given credit for advancing the rights of minorities. As Barton put it, “Only majorities can expand political rights in America’s constitutional society.” Ergo, any rights people of color have were handed to them by whites—in his view, mostly white Republican men.

OH MY GOD FUCKING DIE, YOU FUCKS!
posted by shmegegge at 2:24 PM on January 4, 2010 [46 favorites]


You're right, GameDesignerBen; unforunately, it's pretty much a given at this point that teachers have little incentive to be excellent (that's another conversation). Although exceptions abound, I can attest to the fact that the public school teachers in Texas are generally going to teach directly out of the textbook. I believe the textbooks constitute the bulk of the state-mandated curriculum, as well, and even a great teacher can't do too much about that, other than slip in sly commentary and hope that a bunch of oblivious 13-year olds will notice.
posted by nosila at 2:29 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fuck, Texas. I mean.....just......FUUUUCK!!!

I know. It's stuff like this that makes it really hard to defend living here to y'all who don't. At local Houston Mefi meetups we sort of rally 'round each other saying "BUT IT'S NOT REALLY LIKE THAT YOU KNOW?" Except that sometimes it is like that and it's a hard pill to swallow some days.

So let me take this moment to attempt to balance things slightly and smugly by pointing out that y'all big metropolitan coastal libruls don't have any kind of Annise Parker. We do. There is yet hope. Neener.
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:30 PM on January 4, 2010 [13 favorites]


I once talked on the phone to a customer of the company I work for who mentioned he was calling from Texas. "Is there any other state?" he asked rhetorically. "NO!" I shouted. "TEXAS IS THE ONLY STATE. PLEASE TELL EVERYONE THERE THAT TEXAS IS ALONE ON THE NORTH AMERICAN CONTINENT. Y'ALL HAVE A NICE EXISTENCE, NOW!
posted by longsleeves at 2:33 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I understand that there are people in the world who are utterly incurious about the world. I understand that there are people who believe almost anything they're told by priests and commercials and politicians. What I don't understand is how these people end up on committees where they have the opportunity to influence the education of young people. Shouldn't one have a degree in education, if nothing else, in order to be in a position to have some say in the process of education?

I'm worried about this country. I'm worried that this sort of simplistic thinking attains and has so much traction at the same cultural moment in which so many people are broke, without health care, without jobs, so apparently without hope for the future that they cling madly to conceptions of the world that would have sounded obsolescent 50 years ago. I don't think American needs to be the most powerful or wealthiest country in the world, but I wonder how these Neo-Luddites will react when it is no longer so, because I think that despite their fear and hatred of everything modern, they absolutely believe that the US is the preeminent nation on earth and will always be so.
posted by clockzero at 2:33 PM on January 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


How can these people claim to be pursuing an American agenda when their very goal is to "blur the line between the church and the state"?
posted by LSK at 2:36 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've saw this a while back, and I thought that saner heads would prevail, but I guess I was wrong. nosila has a point - a 30 year campaign has been waged for control of the past, and therefore the future.

If any little trog in training tries to pull creationism on my kids they'll have my permission to say "that's a crock of shit" in response. I think I'll have to start my own religion to be able to back that up to the school district.

We went to Catholic school, and my folks did quite a bit of deprogramming on us after school. The lessons weren't this nuts, though.

So for right now, the only thing left is social studies, which will be talked over in March. I think I need to check on where/when and the options for public comment.

Anyone up for a road trip?
posted by lysdexic at 2:37 PM on January 4, 2010


daniel_charms, do you think everyone automatically has the same information in their brains that you have in yours?

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. It's something that has got me into trouble more than once.

I'm not claiming that this isn't an important subject; I just find that it deserves a better treatment than a single link outragefilter post.
posted by daniel_charms at 2:37 PM on January 4, 2010


Some of you who have been here at Metafilter for awhile know that I live in Texas and homeschooled my son. He left for college when he was 15. He had his Masters before he turned 21 and is working on his PhD at Syracuse University. The text books used in the school system where we lived were very bias in every suject except math, in which they were weak. I would not send a child to public school in Texas.
posted by bjgeiger at 2:38 PM on January 4, 2010 [12 favorites]


Instead of the American way they want multiculturalism.

Now, I'm a dirty foreigner so might have the wrong end of the stick entirely. But given your nation's origins, isn't the American Way all about multiculturalism?

It both terrifies and enrages me that people this stupid can attain this level of power. Score another one for the triumph of being charismatic and emotionally satisfying over merely being right.
posted by metaBugs at 2:41 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


that is some bizarre shit right there. I read the whole thing - it gets worse. E.g. Trying to get the word "democratic" changed to "republican" such that "America's form of government is republican".

That's actually the most defensible claim mentioned in the whole article, sadly.
posted by Sova at 2:45 PM on January 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


isn't the American Way all about multiculturalism?

I just watched The Good Shepherd, which is a movie about a CIA spy in and after WWII. Granted, this may not be the best place to learn about said American way, but there is a line in it that I thought really encapsulated what is probably still on or barely beneath the surface of a lot of people's minds.

Mafioso (Joe Pesci cameo): We, the Italian, have our families and the Church; the Irish have their homeland; the Jewish their tradition; even the Negroes have their music. And you [WASPs], what do you have?

Officer (Matt Damon): The United States of America. The rest of you are just visitors.

posted by nosila at 2:45 PM on January 4, 2010 [18 favorites]


I find this whole situation strange and counter to my own education experiences in Texas, not that I doubt the issue at hand. It is just that I went to elementary school in Texas, during the 70's, when I suspect even the most conservative school books had a lot of "hippie" ideals sprinkled about. I learned all sorts of my most 'liberal' ideals from my 3rd grade social studies class. Sad to think the next generation is missing out on that.
posted by nomisxid at 2:47 PM on January 4, 2010


Well, it's hard as hell to get through the website, but their next meeting of this particular committee is on January 22. They don't expect to get a lot done at this meeting.

Don MacElroy isn't up for re-election until 2011.
posted by lysdexic at 2:47 PM on January 4, 2010


And, thinking about it, I'm kind of with daniel_charms now. This post and discussion could be done better. It's not just about Texas. There are ignorant fucks all over the place. If the rest of the country was really against what TX is up to, they could get together and do something.
posted by lysdexic at 2:50 PM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


And Metafilter frequently discusses those ignorant fucks into the ground. This post, however, is about Texas and its potentially profound effect on what American children learn.
posted by nosila at 2:55 PM on January 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


Metafilter: this critical-thinking stuff is gobbledygook.

I grew up entirely within the Texas public school system and don't recall anything particularly noteworthy re: textbook omissions and/or biases. This was during the 80s and early 90s, however, so it could be I got out just in time. One thing I do recall is that many of my teachers (in high school especially) didn't even make use of textbooks all that much. Mostly, they taught to their own material and lesson plans. It got to the point I could never remember the combination to my locker, since I rarely had to pull textbooks from it. Everything I needed, I could easily carry on my person.

I got the hell out of Texas after I finished college and have no intent to return. I recognize that bullshit like this happens everywhere, but I think what particularly frustrated me about the culture in Texas was that such bullshit, no matter how absurd, was widely accepted by a significant portion of the population, not to mention a significant portion of the political elite. This became all the more obvious after I moved away... (initially) to super duper red state Nebraska, of all places.
posted by jal0021 at 2:58 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


want asplodey headedness? try living in this shit hole state.

Even more...try having a child who will enter this shithole system in 18 months. Though I suppose he might be ok when it's all phonics and early math. Unlike an earlier poster, I don't really think we'd make good homeschoolers.

Someone else mentioned that it would be worse when textbooks go electronic; hopefully not. It is printing costs that keep publishers chained to Texas' idiotic system. Or so publishers claim. I know that I personally would go out and get my kid the better version of a given electronic textbook if I could, although I wonder how much of a battle I want to fight de-programming my kid every semester. How many demerits will he rack up for telling his teacher that their text is racist and biased, and kids in New Jersey are getting the truth?

I love my family and they need me and they're in Texas. My husband's business is in Texas. Leaving Texas seems nearly impossible, but I have not intention of letting my son be subjected to a daily barrage of this crap unchallenged.
posted by emjaybee at 3:00 PM on January 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


You have something there, Lysdexic. Texan influence can't be countered at the Federal level - that's simply too much power to cede to the executive - but if enough progressive states could agree to negotiate their textbook standards as a bloc, some semblance of parity might be reached.
posted by Iridic at 3:02 PM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]




no no no see the whole concept of a melting pot is that anything you throw in becomes exactly like what was already in there

posted by Pope Guilty at 3:09 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is just awesome.

I weep for humanity.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:09 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


And I was trying to point out nosila, lightly, is that a large metropolitan city in Texas was the first such large metropolitan city in the Union to elect an openly gay mayor. If people are going to continue eagerly reducing the population of Texas to a monobloc when it comes to the state's "potentially profound effect on what American children learn," I guess I need to be more emphatic in my prounouncements.
posted by WolfDaddy at 3:14 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not claiming that this isn't an important subject; I just find that it deserves a better treatment than a single link outragefilter post.

And, thinking about it, I'm kind of with daniel_charms now. This post and discussion could be done better. It's not just about Texas. There are ignorant fucks all over the place. If the rest of the country was really against what TX is up to, they could get together and do something.


It's a fairly in-depth article that does a good job of encapsulating the issue. It's about Texas, and their school board, because, y'know, these things are taking place in Texas, within their schoolboard. By calling it an outragefilter article, I'd say you are mischaracterizing it.
posted by defenestration at 3:20 PM on January 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning? -W
posted by MXJ1983 at 3:24 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


The ultraconservatives argued that they were too light on basics like grammar and too heavy on reading comprehension and critical thinking.

Holy fuck! This guy just pinpointed the success of Fox News in one sentence.
posted by quin at 3:26 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'll agree it's a good history and encapsulation of the problem, that's why I said "kinda".
posted by lysdexic at 3:26 PM on January 4, 2010


If people are going to continue eagerly reducing the population of Texas to a monobloc

WolfDaddy, I know that happens pretty often with Metafilter and Texas, and I totally understand your frustration, because I happen to love the state too. I have loads of friends and family there who cheered wholeheartedly when Houston elected Parker, as did I. Kudos, seriously. I'm really sorry if I offended you.

The fact that I love the state makes it so much harder to watch the fringe try to take it down and turn it into a playground for ignoramuses (ignoramusses?!). It's really frustrating, as I'm sure you know.
posted by nosila at 3:35 PM on January 4, 2010


Ummm, this is fodder for you guys. There is no revisionist stuff going on here, but you WANT TO BELIEVE!
posted by Senator at 3:37 PM on January 4, 2010


so these textbooks are no different from any other, right Alia? and three times for emphasis. If you can't tell the difference then you shouldn't be homeschooling anyone

Textbooks are ALL crap, but for different reasons.

AS to my homeschooling, one of my children graduated from USAFA, so I figure I didn't do too bad a job with him.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:37 PM on January 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


As to the textbooks, as far as I am concerned all textbooks are crap no matter whose ideological ox is getting gored. When I homeschooled I preferred to use real books from the library instead of science and social studies texts-I had the text but used them more as a framework than a source of information.

So these "real books" have less of an ideological agenda than textbooks? I had always considered text books to be neutral (or at least ought to), whereas books have an agenda described on the back or inside leaflet. If you want a "real" science textbook, I'll be more than happy to prescribe some that has no other agenda other than to teach "real" science.
posted by jmd82 at 3:42 PM on January 4, 2010


any rights people of color have were handed to them by whites—in his view, mostly white Republican men.

The ironic truth is that it was the Republican party that provided enough votes to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act, over the objections of the Southern Democrats, aka Dixiecrats. Nixon took advantage of the outrage of the Dixiecrats with his Southern Strategy, and now they are the largest bloc in the Republican Party.

The Dixiecrats were only Democrats because Lincoln was a Republican, but they're over that now.

Not to imply that civil rights weren't fought for. long and hard, by the African-American people. But that fight essentially consisted of getting enough of the majority to see where justice lay, and to do the right thing about it.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 3:43 PM on January 4, 2010


How can these people claim to be pursuing an American agenda when their very goal is to "blur the line between the church and the state"?

Well, they think that "the separation of church and state" is largely a fictional creation that didn't really exist back in the day and that the U.S. actually did start out as a "christian" nation.
posted by delmoi at 3:44 PM on January 4, 2010


What I think everyone seems to be forgetting here is that schools have been, and will keep, producing clueless, incurious, conservative idiots regardless of the contents of the textbooks. This is because the most important thing taught in school is not the theory of evolution. The truth is, while we keep telling ourselves that it's important to teach kids all these important things in school, we acquire most of our knowledge about the world not in but outside school (as an example of this, see the anecdote above about the kids who recite in school what their ministers have told them). What school really teaches us is how to be a good little person who sits still from nine to five, does what she or he is told and never questions anything. Oh, and it also teaches us to pretend that what the books say is important without knowing why it is so. It hardly teaches us critical thinking (or bullshit detection), though, and I don't think even the most "liberally biased" textbook will make a difference here.
posted by daniel_charms at 3:44 PM on January 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


Textbooks are ALL crap, but for different reasons.

Please, how are these crap?
posted by jmd82 at 3:47 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ummm, this is fodder for you guys. There is no revisionist stuff going on here

what
posted by defenestration at 3:50 PM on January 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Just out of curiosity. Given that states are chasing biotech, high tech and other tech dollars, and given that Texas, at least in supposedly weird Austin has a lot of those companies, the question to be shouted from the rooftops are WHERE THE EFF ARE THEY????

I mean, can't some of those hi-tech CEOs say basically, "We need smart educated science nerds, and if this is the kind of pedagogy that you want, and if these are the kinds of textbooks that students will be forced to use, we will have no choice to move our ops, sorry guys."
posted by xetere at 3:51 PM on January 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Textbooks are ALL crap, but for different reasons.

No doubt this statement will be followed by an annotated list of all textbooks, and why each one is crap.
posted by shmegegge at 3:52 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


jmd82, in all fairness I am thinking mostly of elementary and high school textbooks, dumbed down to the lowest common denominator and managing to divest themselves of the least bit of entertaining or interesting writing. Still being in possession of history texts from my own hs career, it is amazing and a bit appalling to see how that particular subject had "changed" over the years. Better to go get some real books with differing views from the library-this also serves as a reality check that just because something is in print doesn't make it necessarily so. Best to research!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:52 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I grew up Texas. Lived there until 2005. I went to a private Baptist elementary school in Houston in the early 1980s (Long Point Baptist shout-out, if there are any other alums out there) -- not exactly a bastion of liberalism. I remember being taught that God created the world in 6 days, Noah and the arc, men have 1 less rib, all that crap. But, unless I am misremembering, I also remember hearing about the theory of evolution. It was pretty simple -- species change over time -- but I remember hearing about it and no one freaking the fuck out over it. How the hell has the state gotten MORE conservative and backwards over the last 30 years?
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:52 PM on January 4, 2010


I had always considered text books to be neutral

Dude, RTFA. Textbooks for schoolkids have to adhere to state standards, some of which are so totally biased it's not even funny. Textbook companies who want to make money can't just say "These standards are biased, so we are going to ignore them".
posted by 23skidoo at 3:53 PM on January 4, 2010


...want asplodey headedness? try living in this shit hole state.

I did once. Have family there now.
posted by zarq at 3:55 PM on January 4, 2010


The truth is, while we keep telling ourselves that it's important to teach kids all these important things in school, we acquire most of our knowledge about the world not in but outside school

While I understand the basis of your criticism of the US public school system, and agree that there are factors of it which should be reformed, I disagree strongly with your belief that it is unimportant that students be exposed to a wide range of knowledge in school, leaving them to discover knowledge outside the classroom. Expecting the incurious to self-educate about anything outside their range of immediate interest, which for most children is largely skateboarding and video games and other entertainments which are fairly non-crucial for deep understanding of life is a foolish notion. To expect parents or television or books or whatnot to fill in knowledge gaps shows a profound lack of understanding of what is actually being offered these days through those avenues.
posted by hippybear at 3:56 PM on January 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


I remember hearing about it and no one freaking the fuck out over it.

Micro-evolution is a wholly different thing in those people's minds. It's like comparing freed slaves to the civil rights movement.
posted by GuyZero at 3:56 PM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


A few things that occured to me while reading this article:

Don't completely fret that the textbook is the end of the road. I had a US History teacher who was also a Vietnam vet. As we covered this war from our 1977 textbooks, he would often interject with, "Now, I know what it says in the book, but I was there, so what actually happened was ...". Of course teachers aren't elected, but good teachers can make up for a bad textbook.

Every ten years? Textbooks are reviewed every ten years? I have to admit I'm torn on this. I don't know if this is too long or too short to wait. However, board of education members are elected. Even though it's probably one of the least paid-attention-to elections ever, second maybe to comptroller or county clerk, they are hugely important. This article is proof of that. I can't believe that the same state that created MDC is uniformly populated by Reagan-loving Young Earthers.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:58 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Textbooks are ALL crap, but for different reasons.

This seems like too facile a statement to take seriously. I have several graduate degrees and have taken lots of math and science classes, and I can say that many textbooks are actually quite good, and not only that, but they're indispensable for learning. Even my high school calculus and physics texts were good, though the teachers were part and parcel of making sure I learned the material well.

I can see how you might want to teach a history class using books that straddle the line between "academic" and "popular" works as well as consulting primary sources, but even then, I don't remember having much to complain about in my history and civics textbooks, at least from what I remember from high school, except that they covered material that was important to the curriculum, rather than what was specifically important to what I was interested in.

I mean, can't some of those hi-tech CEOs say basically, "We need smart educated science nerds, and if this is the kind of pedagogy that you want, and if these are the kinds of textbooks that students will be forced to use, we will have no choice to move our ops, sorry guys."

The truth is that there's no shortage of tech workers, and if an IT person doesn't believe in evolution or the reality of climate change, it doesn't affect much as long as he keeps your network secure. These textbook demagogues aren't against the existence of scientific companies or tax breaks for tech corporations. They're against students thinking critically and becoming scientists. Which kind of sucks for the students, but doesn't really affect the bottom line of the CEOs.
posted by deanc at 3:58 PM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


I had always considered text books to be neutral

Dude, RTFA. Textbooks for schoolkids have to adhere to state standards, some of which are so totally biased it's not even funny.


I read it and think you missed my point, namely that using books in lieu or textbooks bias doesn't always work because of book's bias. Point taken though.
posted by jmd82 at 3:59 PM on January 4, 2010


GuyZero: "Micro-evolution is a wholly different thing in those people's minds."

As mentioned here.
posted by brundlefly at 4:00 PM on January 4, 2010


It's a fairly in-depth article that does a good job of encapsulating the issue. It's about Texas, and their school board, because, y'know, these things are taking place in Texas, within their schoolboard. By calling it an outragefilter article, I'd say you are mischaracterizing it.

I don't think I am. It's a single link to an article on a sensitive subject. There have been tons of previous discussions on the rewriting of textbooks (although it's true that they've mostly been about biology textbooks); these invariably become pretty heated and often also tend to get personal, especially when some certain members of the site are involved. Given all this, I can't help but read this post as an attempt to provoke yet another heated discussion on this topic.
posted by daniel_charms at 4:01 PM on January 4, 2010


This is what happens in Texas, but the texts they buy don't originate there. I have a friend who works in children's publishing in New York. A little over two weeks ago, she contacted us on line and told us:

[I'm] at work deleting all references to Tiger Woods and animals that may have existed before man from our books. what a life.

She continues,

I am embarrassed by my evolution denying ways.
there needs to be an expose but really it wouldn't matter. These southerners own my industry. not sure why really. we all hate it and make jokes about it [...] but there is no point in protesting because that is the job. it's bascially saying I won't do my job. so if you don't want your job you can. The bosses hate having to do it too so there is kind of no one to protest to idea-wise and if you say you don't want to help them then you are saying "do my job for me". because everyone hates it equally or maybe not equally but everyone
hates it.


More:

All I can say is that none of the major text book publsihers (about five of them) would act any differently about this and I guess that's the problem. if we all agreed not to etc.. but really we are making a product specifically for Florida or Texas to buy as a state so its hard to discount what they want and expect to be purchased. horrble i know.

posted by Obscure Reference at 4:02 PM on January 4, 2010 [34 favorites]


I mean, can't some of those hi-tech CEOs say basically, "We need smart educated science nerds, and if this is the kind of pedagogy that you want, and if these are the kinds of textbooks that students will be forced to use, we will have no choice to move our ops, sorry guys."

They only need a small portion of people to understand biology, and likely anyone interested will have to start from scratch again in college.
posted by delmoi at 4:04 PM on January 4, 2010


Carl Zimmer actually Wrote His own textbook focusing specifically on evolution, for high school level students.
posted by delmoi at 4:07 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Micro-evolution is a wholly different thing in those people's minds. It's like comparing freed slaves to the civil rights movement.
posted by GuyZero


Yeah, that's true. And honestly, it's hard for me to remember all the details, because as soon as I left that school, I became an atheist and have never had any doubts about evolution, so I may be remembering backwards. But, I *do* remember my dad playfully-mocking a friend of his who didn't believe in evolution -- the guy would say, "I don't know about you, but my grandpappy wasn't no monkey!". I found that pretty funny at the time, and the idea of not believing that humans were descended from apes seemed silly. So, either I learned it in the school, or I learned it somewhere else. I think that the teachers felt pretty comfortable just putting two totally incompatible ideas next to each other and saying, "memorize both."

On a slightly-related note, I do agree with the nutbars (yikes) that grammar isn't emphasized enough in the teaching of English in k-12, but that's because I think grammar is essential to reading comprehension and critical thinking, not because the latter are "gobbledygook."
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:11 PM on January 4, 2010


This statement is great for letting a person know that they should find a different and more capable partner in the discussion, for example a table or an ottoman.

What?! Don't you know that we have always been at war with ottomans?!
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:12 PM on January 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Those of you reminiscing about your educational experiences in Texas have probably forgotten about a little act called No Child Left Behind.

I am friends with several teachers in the Texas school system, from 1st grade up to high school, and The Curriculum Is Everything. Not necessarily the textbooks, but The Curriculum. And I believe The Curriculum is set by the Board of Education?

If the high school TAKS test states that Reagan invented the internet, then by gum Reagan invented the internet.
posted by muddgirl at 4:13 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


the guy would say, "I don't know about you, but my grandpappy wasn't no monkey!"

Ray Comfort, my BFF and imaginary husband, likes to state that we can't be "descended from primates".

I can't WAIT to break it to him that we ARE primates! It'll blow his mind.
posted by muddgirl at 4:15 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


California has bypassed this problem by underfunding it's schools so badly that new textbooks are completely out of the question.
posted by doctor_negative at 4:20 PM on January 4, 2010 [13 favorites]


My main beef is that textbooks seem to no longer exist for many subjects and have been replaced by workbooks which combine the exercises and the text. Unfortunately, these books only have enough space to write an answer if you have perfect 4-point handwriting (rare among 10 year old boys) and often curtail the text considerably to the point where it's summarized into trite uselessness. Shabby teaching of biology is of lesser importance than that fact that these text/work-book chimeras seem designed to make kids somewhere between "bad at math" and "innumerate".
posted by GuyZero at 4:24 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


On the flip side, the publishers sell a new batch every year! Yay turning trees into pulp!
posted by GuyZero at 4:24 PM on January 4, 2010


Why is it that all the conspiracy theories from the right end up just being powerless groups of hippies and policy wonks (see: ACORN, Bildenberg Group, Freemasons), but then everything that sounds like a conspiracy theory from the left (the Family, these jerks, etc) ends up actually having tangible power, and yet no one gives a shit?

BTW, I don't want my hypothetical kids learning about anything that denies that we're floating in ether. THOSE WAVES HAVE TO MOVE THROUGH SOMETHING!
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:30 PM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


From the article: And when it comes to textbooks, what happens in Texas rarely stays in Texas. The reasons for this are economic: Texas is the nation’s second-largest textbook market and one of the few biggies where the state picks what books schools can buy rather than leaving it up to the whims of local districts, which means publishers that get their books approved can count on millions of dollars in sales.

I wonder if there is some sort of place in Texas that holds all these books. Maybe something like a Texas School Book Depository or something like that. We could/should do something to discredit that kind of a place.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 4:31 PM on January 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Just wanted to mention that Macmillan / McGraw Hill companies owns Standard & Poor's. Given my user profile, YMMV.
posted by digitalprimate at 4:31 PM on January 4, 2010


Those of you reminiscing about your educational experiences in Texas have probably forgotten about a little act called No Child Left Behind.

Oh, I'm not saying it to deny what the article is saying. It's just sad that I could have been introduced to the concept of evolution by Southern freakin' Baptists and now it is up for debate whether MLK Jr. actually had any impact in the Civil Rights movement (iirc, MLK Jr. was unequivocally termed a hero at my almost all-white and almost all-white taught elementary school).

I'm just glad that I might be moving to Pennsylvania where they don't have crazy wingnuts trying to push their religious ideology on --
oh ... wait...

Damn.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:39 PM on January 4, 2010


I hate to sound like one of the nuts on Digg, but let's take the money out of education publishing. From now on, let's just have kids study from Wikipedia. It's factual, available in every language, and even Simple English for those who aren't skilled in English.

And the Texans can try to edit Wikipedia if they want. Only this time, it has to be unbiased and factual.

Although I just know those jerks would push for Conservepedia. Consider the pearls of wisdom in the news section. And yes, it does use fat lesbians and AIDS as proof of God, again on the front page. Most cults and out-there political parties save the crazy until later...
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:40 PM on January 4, 2010


How much does it cost to write, verify, edit, and publish a science textbook? How is this not a charitable project already? Gates Foundation, I'm looking at you. Do you know how hard it is to find an HIV vaccine when nobody is educated enough to become a medical research, hmm?
posted by jock@law


Millions. (Don't forget art, photos, layout, and printing.)

Someone else mentioned that it would be worse when textbooks go electronic; hopefully not. It is printing costs that keep publishers chained to Texas' idiotic system. Or so publishers claim. I know that I personally would go out and get my kid the better version of a given electronic textbook if I could, although I wonder how much of a battle I want to fight de-programming my kid every semester. How many demerits will he rack up for telling his teacher that their text is racist and biased, and kids in New Jersey are getting the truth?
posted by emjaybee


You can do this today. There probably is a New Jersey edition of whatever your school has. It's probably based of the national edition, which in turn is subject to the influence of Texas, California, New York and sometimes Florida. Despite what is claimed in the article, California delaying its adoption doesn't mean it's going to get ignored. It's not like publishers make a new program, K-12, in every discipline, every year. These things require planning and development and you're doing your company a huge disservice to think that no one in California is ever going to buy a textbook again.

You have something there, Lysdexic. Texan influence can't be countered at the Federal level - that's simply too much power to cede to the executive - but if enough progressive states could agree to negotiate their textbook standards as a bloc, some semblance of parity might be reached.
posted by Iridic


This is happening. Texas and Alaska are holdouts, the other 48 states are onboard.
posted by ifandonlyif at 4:42 PM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


"The Texas legislature finally intervened in 1995, after a particularly heated skirmish over health textbooks—among other things, the board demanded that publishers pull illustrations of techniques for breast self-examination and swap a photo of a briefcase-toting woman for one of a mother baking a cake"

Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow.
posted by GilloD at 4:48 PM on January 4, 2010


[comments removed - there is no need to up the GRAR on this thread. MetaTalk is your option.]
posted by jessamyn at 4:54 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


“Somebody’s gotta stand up to [these] experts!”
Yes, they're coming for the people who know what they're talking about.
posted by scruss at 5:06 PM on January 4, 2010


Isn't there some sort of Texan law that says when a summabitch is too stupid to live, it's legal to put him/her out of our collective misery?

Because FFS, if some of these people aren't proof positive of the legitimacy of that law, I can't imagine who would be.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:09 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


As an American: I am sorry, world.
posted by angrycat at 5:15 PM on January 4, 2010


The real travesty of this is that is that wealthier families often send their children to private schools that have more freedom in setting their curriculum. So these changes will most effect the poor and minorities.

Ignorance is bliss.

When you are in the underclass, putting in twelve-to-sixteen hour days of labour, not knowing the truth is probably what is going to keep you from revolting. If you're indoctrinated into an anti-thinking mindset, as proposed by these bozos, you're not going to be a threat to the reigning power structure.

A big ol' ignorant brute workforce is just what America needs to compete against the Chinese. That's where this is all heading: the creation of a two-class system for America.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:20 PM on January 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Delighted as I was to knock the dust of Texas from my feet, this sort of thing could happen in a lot of other states if they were somehow afflicted with the Texas constitution. The core problem here is less Texas's tendency towards unreflective and dogmatically bibliolatrous conservatism and more the way Texas government has people vote for every goddam thing under the sun and hardly any of it has rational connections to anything else and half the shit is barely, if at all, under the control of the governor and/or legislature (less true here).

You want a recipe for dumb shit like this? Throw an election where hardly anyone except for reactionary fundies (and a few people who really don't like reactionary fundies) cares about the outcome. Any election where some cohesive group of jackasses can bloc-vote and swing the election because nobody else gives a shit is bad news.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:25 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Okay, guys, here's what I'm going to do. I'm moving back to Texas this year. I have two kids who will be school age before long, and a wife who is an elementary teacher. I'm a (soon-to-be-ex) minister from a conservative denomination. I can speak fluent evangelical Texan--it's my first language. So I'm going to be the Manchurian candidate for the Texas Board of Education. I'll run in a couple of years and it'll be nothing but "Howdy, y'all, ain't God good?" and "I sure do love this here barbeque" until I get on the board and then I'm going to beat the bully pulpit for reality-based information as hard as I can. Just don't let on that you know me.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:36 PM on January 4, 2010 [139 favorites]


The good news is that the public education system sucks so bad in this state that most kids won't ever take biology anyways...
posted by jefbla at 5:37 PM on January 4, 2010


Oh, for the love of...

This kind of dumbassery is one of several reasons why we need to just do away with textbooks. Others include saving paper, preventing textbook publishers from ripping off schools, and enabling teachers greater freedom to design their own curriculae rather than, literally, do it by the book. Oh and there's the whole "saving our children from horrible back pain" thing, too.

My college history class didn't even have a real textbook, so to speak-- just a small book with some essays and letters written by historical figures, and it was meant to supplement the lectures (which the professor conducted as storytime, he was an AWESOME storyteller).
posted by Yoshi Ayarane at 5:45 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


There's kind of a difference between how we teach college and primary school, Yoshi, and there's reasons for that.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:53 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wish some sly Dem in Texas would campaign to return textbook approval to the local governments; but would frame it as:

I'm tired of those big government fatcats in Austin telling us, the parents, what we have to teach little Jayden and Hunter.
posted by spaltavian at 5:57 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


i heart Pater Aletheias
posted by lalochezia at 6:01 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ummm isn't this a pretty good argument for local control of education?
posted by TetrisKid at 6:06 PM on January 4, 2010


“This critical-thinking stuff is gobbledygook,” grumbled David Bradley, an insurance salesman with no college degree

Come on now, haven't we all seen enough links to Onion articles by now?

Oh.

posted by drjimmy11 at 6:08 PM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ummm isn't this a pretty good argument for local control of education?

This hasn't really much to do with that. Since you can't be bothered to read, Texas allows citizens to challenge textbook contents, and since Texas is the largest market for textbooks, whatever ends up in the Texas textbooks ends up nationwide because textbook publishers aren't about to publish "History for tenth grade" and "History for tenth grade in Texas". This isn't because of OH MY GOD THE NEA OH MY GOD or anything like that, it's simple economics.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:11 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's even worse than this article says, really. I know someone in the textbook industry, in Texas. Liberal states are not immune either. By the time you get done writing a textbook that will sell in "most" states there is nothing left but pablum and then we haven't even started talking about the misinformation or more often lacking information. You ever wonder why your kids teachers don't use the textbook anymore and everything is packets (if you are lucky)?
posted by caddis at 6:12 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Texas was a heavily standardized state (for examination purposes) before No Child Left Behind. Sorry America, the crap you're all dealing with today was developed, tested and implemented first in Texas.

We had TAAS (Texas Assesment of Academic Skills) starting in third grade in public schools here. That meant you started preparing for the test in second grade. When you're worried that your kids won't bubble the right letter in, you focus on what they're going to see so they aren't surprised. Sure, there's a bit of curriculum. But hardly ever anything requiring text books. And hardly anything more than the basics. "This is what you need to know. Absorb it. Now reproduce it by doing these sample questions from a TAAS prep packet."

Most of my childhood was spent preparing for TAAS testing. Benchmark exams. Practice tests. End of year dry runs. Whole quarters can be wasted teaching to a test.

The classes where textbooks mattered? Math. That's where textbooks couldn't be supplanted by TAAS prep materials. Because even though the test only covered fractions, percents, the four basic arithmetic functions, and reading pie charts, you had little math heads to turn out. I always had a math textbook. I rarely had a textbook for any other course. It was unnecessary. Not an issue of funding, really. We tended to sacrifice extracurricular activities rather than textbooks. The books were always there, piled in the back of the room waiting to be used - twice a year, when they were distributed and then again when they were collected.

This article makes me rage because it's so ridiculous and anti-intellectual. It makes me want to read the final products and write nasty letters to the local paper. But consider this: the AVERAGE teacher is better educated than most of these extremists. To overcome this stuff you don't have to be teacher of the year. You don't have to have a professional degree. And you don't have to have a masters degree in pedagogy. You just have to be a halfwit.

Further, I'd argue that this is a pretty privileged problem to be kvetching about. Where I live, half of all students who start school don't finish. God know what skills the dropouts - half the population - end up with. I am not saying that they would be more engaged if we didn't argue about whether Joe McCarthy was a monster. I'm just saying that the practical impact of that debate is negligible. When that panel says "too heavy on critical thinking" they're not talking about touchy feely comparative analyses of politically correct terms for racial minorities. They're saying that kids are graduating without a BASELINE command of the language in common parlance. And that before we worry about whether they can craft a persuasive argument, we have to make sure that argument is intelligible.
posted by greekphilosophy at 6:13 PM on January 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


This hasn't really much to do with that. Since you can't be bothered to read, Texas allows citizens to challenge textbook contents, and since Texas is the largest market for textbooks, whatever ends up in the Texas textbooks ends up nationwide because textbook publishers aren't about to publish "History for tenth grade" and "History for tenth grade in Texas". This isn't because of OH MY GOD THE NEA OH MY GOD or anything like that, it's simple economics.

As I read the article, it said that Texas USED TO allow citizens to challenge textbook content, but they got tired of constant nagging from this one couple so they removed that process and instead required that textbooks meet statewide standards (now created by committees dominated/infiltrated/co-opted by a bunch of nutjobs). So it's no longer the case that textbooks disapproved by one nutsy school board can still be purchased by another less nuts school district. It becomes one large buyer (who through simple economics can dominate) rather than a large number of smaller buyers. If it were a bunch of districts making independent decisions they wouldn't de facto be buying as a bloc so even though Texas is populous they wouldn't necessarily have nation-wide effects. So it's not OMG the NEA, it's OMG the state curriculum committees.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:18 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I like Pater Alethias' plan. I just moved back to Texas and I'm studying to take the bar exam. I plan to become an obscenely wealthy attorney, at which point I will finance PA's run for school board. If they can do it, so can we.

(Course, I can't run myself because I'm one of those homosexuals with a wicked agenda.)
posted by greekphilosophy at 6:21 PM on January 4, 2010


greekphilosophy: "(Course, I can't run myself because I'm one of those homosexuals with a wicked agenda.)"

That qualifies you to run as a Republican, so long as the "homosexual" thing and the "wicked agenda" thing are not directly related.
posted by brundlefly at 6:28 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


But they do print "History for tenth grade" and "History for tenth grade in Texas." (And many other states.) There are adoption states and open territory states. Texas is an adoption state. That means your book has to get approved by the state before you can sell it to school districts. Other states are also adoption states. To sell in those states, your book must satisfy their curriculum, they really don't care if Texas adopted your book.

But what gets sold in the open territory states? These are states that allow schools to choose what to buy. But open territory states have their own curriculums too. A big state like New York is going to get a lot of attention to make sure there's a curriculum match. A small state is going to get the national edition. But how do you make your national edition? You could just take your Texas book and get rid of all the Texas bits (like showing the Texas standards at the beginning of each section). But maybe it's cheaper to make your New York edition if you make your national edition suitable for New York in the first place. Maybe California is a better starting off point? Maybe Massachusetts, Iowa, and Illinois have similar curriculums and have lots of market opportunities in the next six years. Perhaps you should make your national edition suitable for them? A lot of thought goes into this. Yes, Texas is a big market. Yes, you don't want to do anything that will prevent you from selling in Texas. But Texas can't prevent you from learning about evolution in New York because schools in New York won't buy your biology book unless it teaches evolution.
posted by ifandonlyif at 6:35 PM on January 4, 2010


“I don’t care what the educational political lobby and their allies on the left say,” he declared at one point.

It's called science, bitch! Resect.
posted by vhsiv at 6:37 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Absolutely batshit insane. The fucking fuckers etc.
posted by Monkeymoo at 6:46 PM on January 4, 2010


That's where this is all heading: the creation of a two-class system for America.

"Creation"? You mean "perpetuation" and perhaps "renaissance" I think.

At least, that's what my history books seem to indicate.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:46 PM on January 4, 2010


i heart Pater Aletheias

Screw that, I just spoused him and greekphilosophy. Keep in touch, fellas.

and seconding jessamyn on the grar - let's not give the mods a hard time today, 'k?
posted by lysdexic at 6:57 PM on January 4, 2010


In my 2 year world history course and my US history course now I've been using good textbooks. They're not all crap. For my world course I used Traditions and Encounters and I'm currently using A People and a Nation supplemented with Howard Zinn's a People's History of the United States.

I'm in northern Illinois, for what it's worth.
posted by kylej at 6:57 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Screw that, I just spoused him and greekphilosophy. Keep in touch, fellas.

Does that mean I'm married to greekphilosophy now, too? Not that I mind, but I need to know what to tell my wife.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:23 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


any rights people of color have were handed to them by whites--in his view, mostly white Republican men

When Harry S. Truman--a Democrat--supported civil rights and integrated the armed forces, the Dixiecrats split from the Democrats and later mostly became Republicans. When Lyndon B. Johnson--a Democrat--signed the 1965 Civil Rights Act, he said "We have lost the South for a generation," and the South started voting Republican for the first time since Reconstruction.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:24 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


"This hasn't really much to do with that. Since you can't be bothered to read, Texas allows citizens to challenge textbook contents, and since Texas is the largest market for textbooks, whatever ends up in the Texas textbooks ends up nationwide because textbook publishers aren't about to publish "History for tenth grade" and "History for tenth grade in Texas". This isn't because of OH MY GOD THE NEA OH MY GOD or anything like that, it's simple economics."
-----------------

Yeah... you're probably right. More alternatives and choice could never be the answer. It's just "simple economics." I'm sure if other states were presented with an alternative they would just continue to purchase the Texas version... you're totally right.

Exit question: Did you go to school in Texas? Your knowledge of supply and demand and economies of scale seem to point that way.
posted by TetrisKid at 7:29 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Exit question: Did you go to school in Texas? Your knowledge of supply and demand and economies of scale seem to point that way.

C'mon guys, let's keep the nastiness to a minimum.
posted by kylej at 7:31 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Does that mean I'm married to greekphilosophy now, too? Not that I mind, but I need to know what to tell my wife.

You bet yer boots! (see also: homosexual agenda, passim)
posted by greekphilosophy at 7:37 PM on January 4, 2010


Does that mean I'm married to greekphilosophy now, too? Not that I mind, but I need to know what to tell my wife.

Some people are related by blood.

Some people are related by marriage.

You guys are related by accident.
posted by lysdexic at 7:42 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


supplemented with Howard Zinn's a People's History of the United States.

If you tried this in some small Texas towns you'd probably by lynched, Zinn being, as I'm sure you're aware, a pinko of the first order. That said, I wish we'd had that book when I was in high school, it's one of my favorites. So thanks and keep up the good work.
posted by doctor_negative at 7:44 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Revisionaries: How a group of Texas conservatives is rewriting your kids’ textbooks. "

Wait, I have kids?
posted by klangklangston at 8:01 PM on January 4, 2010


Hells bells, I could easily go down to my local school board, get a library card, and start checking out the actual textbooks available to BC teachers. I've got a B.Ed. minor in elementary education, I've got tons of writing experience, and I'm obsessive about detail and structure, which is pretty much the key to creating an entirely new open-source textbook primer series based on the best concepts and proven methodologies. Anyone want to throw money at me?

Perhaps the only solution is to see this through to its bitter end: a class of people raised by parents that had their children use the most-truthful and most-effective textbooks alongside those provided by the school; and those who do not. One class will have a much better chance of getting ahead in life; the other class becomes our largely untrainable, poorly-paid grunt labour in Chinese-style factories. Human cows.

I can't imagine any other useful function for the people that would go down religionut path to semi-literate ignorance and lack of valuable knowledge. We need an open-source primer series to help save as many people as possible from that fate.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:12 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is genuinely depressing, but it was the fairly blue state of Delaware that almost stopped teaching Evolution recently.

And speaking as a teacher, not all textbooks are created equal. I've taught from some great ones and some horrible ones. (And when confronted with bad ones I'm happy to make my own materials.) Claiming they all suck is a pretty shitheel move to try and justify putting ignorance into a child's books.
posted by bardic at 8:22 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


“I really like the analogy of a chain—that we have all these chains that run through American history,”

yes, and they're getting thicker and more secure thanks to the efforts of people like you
posted by pyramid termite at 8:27 PM on January 4, 2010


"Perhaps the only solution is to see this through to its bitter end: a class of people raised by parents that had their children use the most-truthful and most-effective textbooks alongside those provided by the school; and those who do not."

I agree in principle, but kids have a funny way of turning out in exactly the opposite fashion when it comes to indoctrinating them with religious tenets. They tend to have excellent bullshit detectors and when confronted with a teacher who says things like "Darwin was a Satanist," well if I was that kid I'd be off to the library that afternoon to find out as much about Darwin as possible. So it's a bleak situation, but give kids more credit for instinctively critical thought.

Also, America doesn't really do factories any more. People with a poor education end up in the service industry in the States, for those who are keeping score. At least the factory jobs we used to have paid a living wage and provided for retirement. Americans don't even have that luxury any longer.
posted by bardic at 8:31 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hmmmmmmm, we homeschoolers don't seem so wacky now, huh?
posted by pearlybob at 8:38 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


greekphilosophy: not to make you cry, but I'm afraid the lessons of Texas are simply not being learned, even all these years later. BC has been slowly rolling down the same track.

It would be interesting to open-source the curricula. AFAIK, any parent in BC can get the full curricula for their child, at least on loan: a pretty solid three feet of solid documentation for each grade, with an excellent list of expected skills and etcetera. I'd love to see what this same sort of set of documents looks like in various US states — but not being a citizen of the State, I bet I can't get them. Need to open-source 'em.

Without the limitations of having to teach all of the massive curriculum to thirty children of wildly differing needs to a level that passes accreditation tests, a parent can do one helluva bang-up job of teaching their kid to a level that passes accreditation, provided they have (a) access to curricula, (b) access to materials, and (c) high incentive.

Hell, that'd solve a lot of the unemployment crisis: pay parents $X per child (ie. Unemployment Insurance becomes Education Insurance) to teach to the test to earn education credits for the child's future. Existing teachers can opt to become consulting teachers, helping parents learn to teach their children, using public curricula and open-source and variously-sanctioned textbooks to the public test. It'll take a good chunk of the day to teach the child well, and to take tests, and etcetera. But in the end it'll all pay off, which is why we pay 'em to do it.

Whole lotta problems solved with that plan, I think.

And if the test were also a test of citizenship! A radical change, but within three generations we'd have a solution that satisfies the grandparents and parents. I'll leave it to the future parents to solve the problem faced if they fail to teach to the test and thus potentially deny their child citizenship.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:41 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty: Ummm isn't this a pretty good argument for local control of education?

This hasn't really much to do with that. Since you can't be bothered to read, Texas allows citizens to challenge textbook contents, and since Texas is the largest market for textbooks,


It has a lot to do with that. Recall this:

Texas is the nation’s second-largest textbook market and one of the few biggies where the state picks what books schools can buy rather than leaving it up to the whims of local districts,


Texas is only the largest market of textbooks because unlike almost every other state, Texas functions as one market for text books. If counties and cities individually picked books, you'd certainly still have a lot of conservative superintendents pull this kind of nonsense, but you wouldn't have the textbook companies basing their national product off of one all-important board of troglodytes. There would be no "Texas standard" that would become the national standard because of economic expediency. Austin would pick different books than Crawford and so on. Textbook companies would probably start silently producing "urban" and "rural" versions of textbooks; one for the all the creationists in rural Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, and then a 21st century text for more educated, less insular areas, be in the BosWash, Austin, or educated suburbs.

I'm not saying "destroy the Dept of Ed" and I'm not ignoring the terrible truth that people who think evolution is "hooey" get selected to pick what children are taught with. But increased local control over some elements of education can mitigate a lot of the damage these people cause.
posted by spaltavian at 8:47 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


About three months ago I completed field work documenting practices among the lower income demographic in random small town india for a certain arctic nation's forest industry (printing, paper, the future etc) - interviews with families earning USD 100 a month revealed the sacrifices they made to send their kids to erstwhile "english medium" private schools over free government schools in order to give them a better future than they themselves. and then tuition after hours because parents weren't educated enough to help their children with homework. parents went without, illiterate mothers scraped together earnings, girls were being educated to the furthest they were capable of or the parents could afford.

nobody was sitting around trying to cripple their children's future, not even burqa wearing leather artisans who'd accompany their daughters for their exams halfway across town forgoing a day's income (finding workarounds to cultural injunctions against educating daughters or letting them travel to college alone)

then I wake up and see a post like this, and I wonder about the cognitive dissonance that on one hand worries about your nation's competitiveness globally in school math olympiads or scientific research yet on other lets a creeping decay seep through basic foundations of such education

someone upthread said something to effect of what these people would do when they woke to realize their nation had declined, the irony inherent in that self made path down the slippery slope to the Dark Ages is unspeakable

privilege has blinded you to your opportunities and your future
posted by infini at 8:50 PM on January 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


And if the test were also a test of citizenship!

We experimented with that concept here in the US in some southern states about 150 years ago. (See: barriers to voting such as literacy tests, etc) I'm pretty certain they were declared illegal. Perhaps Canada has different concepts of civic participation which make this feasible there.
posted by hippybear at 8:51 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Speaking as a former social studies teacher, I have to say that textbooks are not the most efficient way to transmit information, and it's not like the changes that are being proposed in Texas are going to dilute the knowledge-base in that state anyway.

It's irritating, but not the end of the world.

Since textbooks are expensive, they tend not to get replaced with newer versions very regularly. When I did my practicum I used the same textbook I learned with about 12 years earlier.

It's not just the facts - pedagogy changes. Issues that were topical when the textbook was written often have a shelf life of about 2 or 3 years. 10 years later it's totally irrelevent.

In the most extreme example, when I was in high school, we studied everything WWII: causes, campaigns, personalities, technologies, all that stuff.

Of course, WWII was the defining event of the 20th century, and there is obviously a need to teach about it in school. However, did we really have to learn all about D-Day, strategic bombing and Tiger tanks?

By the time I became a social studies teacher (and I didn't last all that long before returning to Japan), many of the younger socials grumbled and complained about having to teach WWII in-depth, mostly because the more senior teachers had invested a lot of time developing a comprehensive curriculum about that subject and didn't want to do something different.

The classroom is really the nexus of state-defined curriculum, teacher-defined pedagogy, and the static repository of information that is the textbook.

The textbook is not curriculum, it's just a tool. If you can get your students to actually crack open and really read a textbook, it's a major accomplishment, and it's just a start.

The students who are actually reading textbooks are the ones who are going to be thinking more critically, or who can be taught to think more critically.

About 30% of the time, a student may not even know how to use a textbook, or how to read for comprehension.

So these changes to textbooks are kind of irritating, but that's about it. The outcomes outlined in the curriculum matters more than textbooks. The quality of the teaching matters more. Class size matters more. Socio-economic indicators (are the kids eating enough at home?) matter more.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:57 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Claiming they all suck is a pretty shitheel move to try and justify putting ignorance into a child's books."

Not to get all dickout on anybody here, but consider the source. When you reject critical thinking as a way of life, it's not surprising that you can't differentiate between not perfect, bad and worse. This bias might tend to be magnified further if you, say, homeschooled your kids due to whatever specious religious pseudo-reasoning seemed to justify it.

But education's one of those things that since almost everyone has been through, everyone thinks they're experts on. As if watching a basketball game made you Michael Jordan.
posted by klangklangston at 8:59 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


The textbook is not curriculum, it's just a tool. If you can get your students to actually crack open and really read a textbook, it's a major accomplishment, and it's just a start.

In my AP US history class, we had a quiz on a chapter the Friday before winter break. Over break, we were expected to take detailed notes on the next chapter (mine were 5 dense pages) and prepare for a quiz on the day back. Generally he's a good teacher though.
posted by kylej at 9:02 PM on January 4, 2010


Oh, and we have another quiz along with notes due this friday.

I'm gonna stop complaining now and go do my homework.
posted by kylej at 9:02 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I lived in Texas and had a kid, I would be handing him/her a copy of "Demon-Haunted World" by Carl Sagan right about now.
posted by Lobster Garden at 9:12 PM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


We experimented with that concept here in the US in some southern states about 150 years ago.

I recall taking the "citizenship test" when I was a high school freshman. Hearing the term made me think that if I failed, I would be deported. So I asked my social studies teacher if this was the case. "No, of course not. That would be stupid," she said. And I imagine it would be pretty, uh, problematic to make children take tests of citizenship, where failure means denial of citizenship, whether for children of native-born parents or children of immigrants, in cases where one sibling passes and another fails, and so on. It's sort of on par with setting up a Dumb Island to move everyone scoring below a certain level to. A bit too authoritarian for my tastes.

The only real solution I see to this problem, really, is parental involvement and organizing, combined with a stronger, more pervasive national standard for education. Especially the latter.

When I wanted to begin university in Iceland, I was told that having graduated from an American high school, they had no way of knowing if what I was taught was on par with what Icelandic kids were taught in their schools, so I would have to take two years of secondary school before I could begin university. Part of this is because Icelandic schools have compulsory education from ages 6 to 16, after which you can (and most do) take 4 years of secondary school before beginning university. But part of my denial of entry was also because they had no way of knowing what I was taught.

As I thought about it, I realized that my family had moved between two counties within the same state between my sophomore and junior years of high school - each with two different graduation requirements. Two different counties!

This, to me, is a serious error in the education system's structure. I can see no good coming from the patchwork system currently in use in the US. Parental involvement can only go so far. There really needs to be an across-the-board consensus when it comes to what's taught in schools. Lotsa luck getting that to happen, though, I suppose.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:14 PM on January 4, 2010


America doesn't really do factories any more.

Caterpillar, Marlin Steel Wire, Syntax-Brillian, Case IH and American Bicycle Group mfg. in the US, though three of these are 20-200 employees and Caterpillar is only 50,000 and Case IH only 7900, so the opportunities aren't like those of a peasant moving to Shanghai to do electronics mfg. 72 hours/week.

---

While California may not be buying textbooks, it's still buying workbooks based on the old textbooks, so maybe it'll have a little pull for when it can buy again?

The "other 48" do seem to already exist as a curriculum bloc. My son's math book comes from Pearson Education, Inc. which has envisionmathca.com for CA, envisionmathtexas.com for TX and one for everyone else.
posted by morganw at 9:18 PM on January 4, 2010


Jesus better get here soon and end this existence. I don't think we humans can hold on much longer.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:29 PM on January 4, 2010


As I thought about it, I realized that my family had moved between two counties within the same state between my sophomore and junior years of high school - each with two different graduation requirements. Two different counties!

I dropped out of public school and my only regret was that I didn't do it sooner. I never ended up needing that high school diploma, and wasn't learning anything in high school anyway.

(For what it's worth, I got my GED immediately after leaving.)

Part of the reason I wasn't learning was because I had to change schools twice, and each time it was a new, dreadfully inane curriculum. Subjects were repeated, or this district used one method to teach math while this district used another, and so on. It was much easier to look at the GED requirements and study for that.

Standards don't really encourage intellectual curiosity, of course, but after attending college and realizing that none of my new friends -- none -- felt that they had gotten an adequate or even coherent education in high school, I started to feel less hostile towards them.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:17 PM on January 4, 2010


I do agree with the nutbars (yikes) that grammar isn't emphasized enough in the teaching of English in k-12, but that's because I think grammar is essential to reading comprehension and critical thinking -- Saxon Kane
Um, why? Do you have an actual reason for this rather idiosyncratic belief?
I hate to sound like one of the nuts on Digg, but let's take the money out of education publishing. From now on, let's just have kids study from Wikipedia.
-- mccarty.tim
Hah. Sad as it is, wikipedia articles are probably more accurate then textbooks. And certainly more expansive. One problem though is that the articles aren't really structured in a way you can learn from. For example, the articles on mathematical topics are great references, but there's no strict sequence where the first things are explained using simple examples first. And it can be hard to figure out what articles to read.

Wikimedia actually does have A site for books. Here's one on Structural Biochemistry for example that looks somewhat complete. Then there's this one about database design. Clicking around, there are actually a lot that are just outlines if that.

But a well made, open-source textbook would be pretty awesome. If it really costs millions to do, then 1000 people contributing thousands of dollars, or 10,000 people contributing hundreds of dollars could get it done.

Maybe someone should start a kickstarter thing to get started. I do think books written by lots of different people tend to suck.
I agree in principle, but kids have a funny way of turning out in exactly the opposite fashion when it comes to indoctrinating them with religious tenets. They tend to have excellent bullshit detectors and when confronted with a teacher who says things like "Darwin was a Satanist," -- bardic
I know right? Like remember how there used to be all these fundies, then when they tried to indoctrinate their they failed, and now there are no fundies anymore?
America doesn't really do factories any more.
Ugh, this is so false. The U.S manufactures more stuff then at any time in history, in dollars. Yes, fewer people are employed, but the fact that we went from 30% of the population working on farms to 2% doesn't mean "we don't have farms anymore." Factories are far more automated then in the past, so we need fewer factory wokers.But we are making more stuff then ever.
posted by delmoi at 10:25 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


it's not like the changes that are being proposed in Texas are going to dilute the knowledge-base in that state anyway.

The problem is that the textbook companies don't write a Texas-specific version, they write a 50-state textbook that, because of the large purchasing power of Texas, has to pass muster there. So it isn't just the Texan knowledge-base that's being degraded, it's that of every school district that buys a Texas-approved textbook.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 10:59 PM on January 4, 2010


I guess my point was that it takes more than a textbook to transmit knowledge and culture. The actual outcomes prescribed by the curriculum play a part, teaching plays a part, the ability and interest of the student plays a part, what is taught or discussed at home plays a part, popular culture plays a part...
posted by KokuRyu at 11:17 PM on January 4, 2010


There really needs to be an across-the-board consensus when it comes to what's taught in schools.

Uh ... I'm not so sure about that. Who's to say that the "consensus" reached from that process wouldn't involve Adam and Eve lassoing dinosaurs on horseback?

That lack of consensus isn't necessarily what's letting degenerate school districts get away with retrograde curricula; it's quite possibly what's allowing less backwards districts from getting sucked down the drain along with them.

I'm not so sure I'd want any part of a "national consensus" if Texas has a vote.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:20 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


The author of the article could have saved a lot of time by simply reprinting Preston Cloud's 1977 article "'Scientific Creationism'--A New Inquisition Brewing?".
posted by RavinDave at 11:20 PM on January 4, 2010


I mean, can't some of those hi-tech CEOs say basically, "We need smart educated science nerds, and if this is the kind of pedagogy that you want, and if these are the kinds of textbooks that students will be forced to use, we will have no choice to move our ops, sorry guys."

The weirdest job interview I ever went to was at a small tech company that had been around for a while and actually made money. I went in, sat down across from the CEO who was interviewing me, and as we're talking I glanced over to the bookshelf behind him and it was full of books by Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, and all those other lunatics on Fox News. Most of the high tech world can work out pretty well for people who don't follow a reality-based thought process. There have been a lot of tech companies founded by Mormons, for instance.
posted by cmonkey at 11:29 PM on January 4, 2010


"Like remember how there used to be all these fundies, then when they tried to indoctrinate their they failed, and now there are no fundies anymore?"

You should try meeting some different people delmoi. You'd be surprised at what you'd learn. In the meantime, try googling the phrase "jack Mormon."

"The U.S manufactures more stuff then at any time in history, in dollars. Yes, fewer people are employed"

Once again, thanks for making my point. For generations Americans without college degrees, let along HS diplomas, could reliably find manufacturing work in the US that paid a middle class wage with benefits. This is no longer the case, with some exceptions.
posted by bardic at 11:46 PM on January 4, 2010


"meet WikiReader"
posted by infini at 12:27 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


For those of you arguing that California's textbook committees will hold back the nutjobs in Texas, let me tell you a little story.

I grew up in a small town (do scroll down to the link on Education in the Wiki article) in San Diego, went to school there from k-12. Nearly all of my peers were Mormon, evangelical Christian, or Catholic.

My town is simultaneously the town that helped elect the first openly gay/lesbian District Attorney in the country and the town that helped pass Prop 8 to deny marriage rights to gays and lesbians.

Most importantly, while I was a student, my town voted to stop teaching evolution (among other things). IIRC, it went all the way to the Supreme Court. That was a little over fifteen years ago now and the school board is still composed of right wing religious Republicans.

When I learned the theory of evolution in my senior year of high school, about ten students attempted to walk out. The teacher, clearly a bit nervous, insisted that if they didn't learn evolution, they wouldn't pass that section of the final exam and there would be no alternative extra credit. They sat down, stony-faced, and the lesson went on. Please note: this was not the deep South, this was not eastern Washington or rural Pennsylvania--this was coastal Southern California.

Don't assume California is going to save you from nutty conservatives; we've got plenty of our own and they do plenty of damage to our textbooks.
posted by librarylis at 1:01 AM on January 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


Most of the high tech world can work out pretty well for people who don't follow a reality-based thought process.

Engineering from rote can work very well, since it's based on established science. Fundies are very good at rote learning. In fact, that's what makes them fundies: they don't recognize anything else.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:59 AM on January 5, 2010


The fact that high school teachers are still forced to work from textbooks is an outrage in itself, frankly.
posted by koeselitz at 2:39 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Who's to say that the "consensus" reached from that process wouldn't involve Adam and Eve lassoing dinosaurs on horseback?

That lack of consensus isn't necessarily what's letting degenerate school districts get away with retrograde curricula; it's quite possibly what's allowing less backwards districts from getting sucked down the drain along with them.


That's a fair point, but maybe I'm just overly optimistic that a federal mandate on education would exclude Adam and Eve lassoing dinosaurs on horseback. My concern is that more insular communities are blocking childrens' access to information that will help them advance in life. It's tantamount to abuse, in a sense at least that these mini-fiefdoms are replacing facts with political agendas, at the expense of their kids. If parents want to homeschool their kids, or drone on at the dinner table about how evolution is hooey, they can still do that, but I think a national standard is the bare minimum we should be asking for.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:46 AM on January 5, 2010


Hello all. Been a long time.

But it seems, we could write one hell of a textbook on the information included in just this thread alone. This is a topic for the ages. This era of American history will most certainly become a topic of a textbook -- once someone somewhere, with some sort of "clout", allows, prods, pleas, mandates that this society, once again, become more sane.

Until then, it is Texas all the way down.

Is it any wonder Texas starts with a "T" and so does "Turtle"?

A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" "You're very clever, young man, very clever", said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down!"


posted by crasspastor at 5:41 AM on January 5, 2010


> I'm a (soon-to-be-ex) minister from a conservative denomination. I can speak fluent evangelical Texan--it's my first language. So I'm going to be the Manchurian candidate for the Texas Board of Education.

Holy crap, Pater Aletheias. I adored and respected you before, and selfishly I'll be sad to see you leave NC, but this comment just made my freaking day. Thank you for being you.
posted by Stewriffic at 5:59 AM on January 5, 2010


You know, I'm pretty serious about this. I was thinking of running for my kids' local school board anyway, which I guess would be the place to start. When I need money for my state-wide run, I'll let you guys know. Hopefully greekphilosophy, my beloved husband-in-law, will be filthy rich by then.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:18 AM on January 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


At this point, Texas children would get a better education at home than in public schools... and being from Texas, that's definitely saying something.
posted by Malice at 7:19 AM on January 5, 2010


>Don't assume California is going to save you from nutty conservatives; we've got plenty of our own and they do plenty of damage to our textbooks.
posted by librarylis at 3:01 AM on January 5 [+] [!]


And conversely, there are plenty of enlightened places here in Texas where a debate over evolution would be run out of town on a rail. I grew up in the shadow of the University of Texas Medical Branch, so the kids I went to school with were the children of doctors and researchers. The medical school hosted a phenomenal summer science camp which I was fortunate enough to attend every year from 4th Grade through high school graduation. We ran gel electrophoresis in middle school. We cloned hamster DNA. We debated the use of bovine growth hormone in the production of consumables. And we observed a partial dissection in the med school's gross anatomy lab.

I also grew up 25 miles from NASA's Johnson Space Center. (You may have heard of it!) When I was a junior in high school, I was nominated by our local legislator as a Texas Aerospace Scholar [the program has subsequently been renamed High School Aerospace Scholars], and was fortunate to spend part of a summer visiting the different departments at NASA, observing the functioning Flight Control Room, observing the yet-to-be-completed plasma propulsion rocket - fabled to be the way we might eventually get to Mars. And we put our (egg)heads together in order to fashion our own mission to Mars. The possibility of water was still the great unknown ten years ago, but heavily presumed, so we focused on a manned mission to determine the presence of water. And we made sure that our mission included all the nerdy precursors to a major terraforming project. We were so silly.

And further still, at the other end of my hometown is a Jurassic Park-like tourist attraction, Moody Gardens. It's a collection of three pyramids, each housing another scientific phenomenon. The first is an acre of "rainforest" - a botanical garden of sorts, featuring flora and fauna from the many rainforests of the world. The second was a space and flight museum featuring exhibits explaining things like the Doppler Effect. It was heavily influenced by the education team at NASA. The third pyramid is a typical aquarium, entirely appropriate because the branch of Texas A&M University located here specializes in marine biology.

So while I don't usually feel compelled to defend Texas, and I certainly have no interest in crapping on California - it's important to realize that with any state as large as these two, there exists a wide variance in the experiences of those living there. Some good, some bad, some neither. Here in Texas, we need to shift the focus away from nutjobs like the ones featured in this article, and on to the hardworking people trying to bring fire to humanity. And in California, we have to make sure that the troglodytes don't get away with things like Prop 8 because we've become complacent with our progress.

I'm just glad my parents didn't raise me in Vidor. *shudder*
posted by greekphilosophy at 8:03 AM on January 5, 2010 [10 favorites]


>Also "MetaFilter: I'm gonna stop complaining now and go do my homework."
posted by greekphilosophy at 8:07 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't have much to add to this thread, but I read a great footnote (in Peter Novick's That Noble Dream, p. 198) today which shows that the threat of losing your market isn't new. It's talking about a 1897 American history textbook.

"The first edition of [John Bach McMaster's] text included a footnote which doubted the Norse discovery of America. A textbook salesman wrote back to headquarters that 'The discovery of America by the Norsemen is believed in by our Norse population as they believe in their Bible... in some counties in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota... the omission of the name of Leif Erikson... will effectually shut the book out of all the schools.' In later editions the reference was suitably altered."

We've got to keep fighting the good fight.
posted by besonders at 8:07 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned that Washington never told a lie.
I learned that soldiers seldom die.
I learned that everybody's free.
And that's what the teacher said to me.
That's what I learned in school today.
That's what I learned in school.

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned that policemen are my friends.
I learned that justice never ends.
I learned that murderers die for their crimes.
Even if we make a mistake sometimes.
That's what I learned in school today.
That's what I learned in school.

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned our government must be strong.
It's always right and never wrong.
Our leaders are the finest men.
And we elect them again and again.
That's what I learned in school today.
That's what I learned in school.

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned that war is not so bad.
I learned of the great ones we have had.
We fought in Germany and in France.
And some day I might get my chance.
That's what I learned in school today.
That's what I learned in school.
posted by dhartung at 8:28 AM on January 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


We experimented with that concept here in the US in some southern states about 150 years ago. (See: barriers to voting such as literacy tests, etc) I'm pretty certain they were declared illegal. Perhaps Canada has different concepts of civic participation which make this feasible there.

Apparently your hamburger-meter needs adjustment.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:38 AM on January 5, 2010


But a well made, open-source textbook would be pretty awesome. If it really costs millions to do, then 1000 people contributing thousands of dollars, or 10,000 people contributing hundreds of dollars could get it done.

A couple thousand people donating a buck a month would be enough to have me crank out endless open-source textbooks. It doesn't take millions of dollars to create a primer: it takes a couple of people with access to resources, a bit of knowledge about childhood education, and a willingness to do work for reasonable pay. I don't need a six-figure income to motivate me to write a primer.

You'd think a few of those advancing-science types of CEOs would see the benefit of funding an open-source high-standards primer series. Really, it's in their company's best interests.

For generations Americans without college degrees, let along HS diplomas, could reliably find manufacturing work in the US that paid a middle class wage with benefits.

I firmly believe that we need to make sure there is productive work for our lower-capability citizens. I think it is more important that everyone be able to do useful work, than it is to have the most automated, productive systems.

Automation might make my car or iPhone or whatever cheaper, but it isn't going to save me from an angry mob of unemployed, desperate people.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:03 AM on January 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


AS to my homeschooling, one of my children graduated from USAFA, so I figure I didn't do too bad a job with him.

As I understand it, the admission process for service academies includes being nominated by a member of Congress. Did your county-Republican-party-chairman husband play any role in that?
posted by box at 10:07 AM on January 5, 2010


A couple thousand people donating a buck a month would be enough to have me crank out endless open-source textbooks.

Me too.

But I don't think this is what we need. Textbooks should be mostly over and done with.

What I think we should have instead is massive collaboration on the part of teachers. In every state of the union, there are tens of thousands of people out there right now who spend every workday thinking about how to get a concept across to kids. Okay, some of them are coasting on a few years of actual effort at that goal, but hey, we should be happy to harvest that too. A teacher should be able to contribute unit-sized materials somewhere, browse and download the contributions of other teachers, and talk to each other about them. A monolithic textbook is really a lot less efficient.
posted by weston at 10:34 AM on January 5, 2010


AS to my homeschooling, one of my children graduated from USAFA,

congrats, and ignore the previous poster who fails to understand how easy it is to get a recommendation from a member of congress, but how difficult it is academically to get into a service academy.
posted by caddis at 10:35 AM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


If I had a kid, and I had the ability to use my connections to get the kid into a better college, I'd probably try to do it (y'know, presuming this didn't mean having somebody killed or something). I'm just asking.
posted by box at 10:44 AM on January 5, 2010


USAFA is the one with the record of rampant religious discrimination.

Can anyone explain where it says that you can't be "saved in Jesus" if you believe in evolution?

It is said that Satan is the father of lies. This creationism thing is nothing but lies and false doctrines. All this energy going to fight the "holy war" against evolution is amazing. Imagine if they put that same amount of energy in to doing what Jesus said to do!

Instead it's all about wars and killing (except for a fetus), and abdication of reason, which, in turn, is all smoke and mirrors to try to hide that it's nothing but greed and self-righteousness.
posted by Goofyy at 11:29 AM on January 5, 2010


These particular people are biblical literalists. I'd say it's obvious, but perhaps it isn't - not every Christian believes the Bible literally, but some do.

Can anyone explain where it says that you can't be "saved in Jesus" if you believe in evolution?

Again, I'd like to say it's obvious, but there's a gigantic blurry area between practice/cultural beliefs and text. These people believe what they believe and the issue isn't reasoning them out of it but ensuring that textbooks present a fair, fact-based viewpoint that isn't a product of one small group's beliefs.

The rather tricky part is that there are few "facts" in history and that a fair number of people who believe in unscientific things will be upset by science textbooks unless they stop being science textbooks.
posted by GuyZero at 11:46 AM on January 5, 2010


Textbooks should be mostly over and done with.

Exactly. Most of our compulsory education is derived from a one-size-fits-all model that hasn't really changed since the days of Little House on the Prairie. Students go to brick-and-mortar schools that are expensive and need to be closed once enrollment in a particular community drops. Meanwhile, another expensive school has to be built in a new exurb where it might have a life expectancy of 20 years before having to be closed. What a waste of money.

Students start school at around 8:30, and finish at around 3:00. Why? Because it makes logistical sense.

Students study in classrooms of 30 students. Why 30? Because that's what makes economic sense. Everyone learns everything at the same time and at the same pace. Why? Because we don't have the money to provide individualized instruction.

On it goes.

Textbooks are the least of the problems students and their parents face with the education system.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:36 PM on January 5, 2010


"Like remember how there used to be all these fundies, then when they tried to indoctrinate their they failed, and now there are no fundies anymore?"

You should try meeting some different people delmoi. You'd be surprised at what you'd learn. In the meantime, try googling the phrase "jack Mormon."
I have no idea what you're trying to communicate here. I was being sarcastic. Obviously while some kids don't get indoctrinated by their parents, a huge number do, which is why fundamentalists still exist. And many more get converted into that lifestyle as well. It's not exactly clear to me what "jack Mormons" have to do with this.
Once again, thanks for making my point. For generations Americans without college degrees, let along HS diplomas, could reliably find manufacturing work in the US that paid a middle class wage with benefits. This is no longer the case, with some exceptions.
The same is true of farming. So what? I mean, what's your point? The number of people employed in either construction or manufacturing is 19 million people. That's not no one. People employed in the service industry or government total 113 million. Lots of people seem to think the number of people working in factories is zero.
The fact that high school teachers are still forced to work from textbooks is an outrage in itself, frankly.
Looking at the BLS data, there are something like 19 million people employed in "health or education". Obviously there not all teachers, but there must be millions of them. Having them all write their own textbooks in addition to doing all the regular lesson planning would be a tremendous waste of effort. It isn't like teacher labor is free or they have an unlimited number of hours of work they can put in. Many are over-worked as it is.
posted by delmoi at 3:48 PM on January 5, 2010


AS to my homeschooling, one of my children graduated from USAFA, so I figure I didn't do too bad a job with him.

As I understand it, the admission process for service academies includes being nominated by a member of Congress. Did your county-Republican-party-chairman husband play any role in that?
posted by box at 10:07 AM on January 5 [+] [!]


Nope. Besides, one of his nominations came from John Edwards.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:08 PM on January 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


(My son got two.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:08 PM on January 5, 2010


USAFA is the one with the record of rampant religious discrimination.

Believe everything you read, do you?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:09 PM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think for "open-source textbook," it'd be better to read it as "web-based, interactive learning tool." It'd be right foolish to create something that can only be printed or read statically.

That aside, the "textbook" concept is solid: a logical progression through concepts, examples, and work activities. A whole lot of necessary knowledge fits quite neatly into that box. Of course, a whole lot of "extra-curricular" information can be provided as adjunct materials.

A fellow should look into implementing an Authorware-style programmed-learning development environment for the web...
posted by five fresh fish at 6:50 PM on January 5, 2010


Believe everything you read, do you?

Would your position be that the USAF's findings were inaccurate?
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:52 PM on January 5, 2010 [4 favorites]




Believe everything you read, do you?

No. However I do believe Mikey Weinstein, whom I've heard speak on the topic twice. His lawsuit forced the USAFA to adopt stricter religious tolerance regs. The situation is improved, by the way, but the problem has not been solved.

I realize your comment wasn't directed at me, but I felt a need to respond. For you to imply that the religious discrimination, which has most certainly been present, (there have been documented, witnessed incidents,) at the academy is somehow nonexistent is offensive to those who have endured it.
posted by zarq at 6:58 PM on January 5, 2010 [9 favorites]


People online who knew Mr Weinstein personally have various and sundry opinions. I might add those particular people were fairly irreligious themselves.

My son's experience while there was that his own (religious) point of view was one he had to vigorously defend, particularly in his philosophy courses (his minor.) It was his observation that as a whole USAFA was a fairly irreligious place overall. (His pet name for the Chapel was the "Chapel of Baal.") I don't doubt that here and there Mr Weinsteing might have had a problem or two, but hey, they are in Colorado Springs.

I did notice that in general any news report I saw re the Academy while my son was there was generally to be taken with a huge grain of salt. Which frankly I have found is the wisest way to consume any news media regarding anything.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:05 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


People online who knew Mr Weinstein personally have various and sundry opinions. I might add those particular people were fairly irreligious themselves.

The vast majority of people who have been vocally angry at him (including in one case, an evangelical Christian who prayed publicly that he die quickly) seem to be conservative, religious folks who seem to think that the US military is a Christian missionary organization.

I don't doubt that here and there Mr Weinsteing might have had a problem or two, but hey, they are in Colorado Springs.

Are you asserting that there is no religious intolerance at the USAFA? That it is only present in the city of Colorado Springs?

I did notice that in general any news report I saw re the Academy while my son was there was generally to be taken with a huge grain of salt. Which frankly I have found is the wisest way to consume any news media regarding anything.

Personally, I don't subscribe to the persecution-prone conservative worldview that news reports should automatically be considered biased without proof. Besides, evidence of Christian "Boot Camp" at various military bases have also been reported on right wing sites like military.com.
posted by zarq at 7:27 PM on January 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


People online who knew Mr Weinstein personally have various and sundry opinions. I might add those particular people were fairly irreligious themselves.

People online who claim to know him, and claim to be irreligious. Quite different.
posted by delmoi at 7:55 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


A couple thousand people donating a buck a month would be enough to have me crank out endless open-source textbooks. It doesn't take millions of dollars to create a primer: it takes a couple of people with access to resources, a bit of knowledge about childhood education, and a willingness to do work for reasonable pay. I don't need a six-figure income to motivate me to write a primer.
posted by five fresh fish


It costs millions of dollars to create a textbook because (in no particular order)

(1) you can't get away without paying photo or text permissions. I suppose you could not include any photos of the places you are talking about in your geography text or an excerpt from "I Have A Dream" in your US history text. However, I think letting your scope and sequence decisions be based on what topics have public domain art, photos, and texts is not good practice.

(2) There's also a lot of labor that goes into a book. It's more than just writing, it's also design, digital production, composition, creating graphic organizers and so on. Pulling these resources together is expensive and it takes a lot of time. (And no one but executives make six figure salaries.)

(3) Then there are the expenses associated with actually delivering the product to your users. Those add up too—even if your product is online only.

If you want to make a primer that tries to avoid these costs, go ahead, lots of people already do, and do so for free without donations. Generally, they're teachers and they have lots of experience. These materials serve their purpose just as textbooks do. Textbooks just cost more to make.
posted by ifandonlyif at 9:08 PM on January 5, 2010


[few comments removed - MetaTalk and email are options]
posted by jessamyn at 9:37 PM on January 5, 2010


I don't know where you're coming from, IFF. I've both taught and written texts for a living. Nothing you describe is a big stumbling block.

If there are already free online primers, so much the better. The only real problem in the end is (a) the state curricula needs to be made public; (b) the state needs to authorize a set of qualified online primers; (c) the state needs to administer tests to ensure the curricula is being satisfied.

Everything else about the idea is, by comparison, dead easy and well within the capabilities of many people. Primers aren't anything too magic.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:03 PM on January 5, 2010


Textbooks? Even from the early middle TV era (60's-80's) I recall only a tiny fraction of my textbooks contents. But of the five year mission of the USS Enterprise I recall much more. And these days? With the web thingie, I would imagine that the portion of attention paid to textbooks has shrunk considerably. Let the 'thumpers control the textbooks...I can't imagine a less important arena to fight in.
posted by telstar at 2:46 AM on January 6, 2010


Personally, I don't subscribe to the persecution-prone conservative worldview that news reports should automatically be considered biased without proof.

I came by that belief by seeing how things were reported that I had personal knowledge of...way before my son was away at school, btw. Plus my own experience getting interviewed when I was younger and seeing what the results were when they hit the paper. Boy howdy.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:56 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


St. Alia, I work in the industry.

To clarify: I create and manage publicity campaigns by speaking with, pitching, managing and coordinating press coverage for clients by working with journalists, reporters, bloggers and producers.

Do reporters bias their own stories? Yes. Are some of them guilty of confirmation bias? Yes. Is the problem truly rampant? I've been in the industry for a decade and a half, and I'd venture to say no. It's entirely dependent on the reporter and their specific outlet. Newspaper and journalists (not editorial columnists, but *news reporters*) overall seem to be less prone to bias than folks who work in television. Tabloids notwithstanding, in cases where bias occurs, the problem is rarely that stories are being fabricated from nothing, but rather that an actual story is being sensationalized or that a specific perspective is not being fully fleshed out.

As far as I'm concerned, the outright dismissal of all news outlets as biased is an intellectually dishonest argument.
posted by zarq at 6:16 AM on January 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Zarq, there's no point. Some people will accept only those things that absolutely confirm their beliefs. There's no intellectually dishonest argument to be had here, because that would require your opposition to learn, understand, or accept the potential value of other ideas.

Self-inflicted ignorance is essentially impossible to overcome from the outside. None are so blind as those who will not see. Or in this case, none are so blind as those who have poked their own eyes out with the red-hot nails of faith. Blind faith.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:40 AM on January 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


DHartung, thank you for the reference to Pete, but let's give credit to Malvina Reynolds, who wrote the song (and a bunch of other great ones, like "LIttle Boxes")
posted by DMelanogaster at 10:11 AM on January 6, 2010


Do reporters bias their own stories? Yes. Are some of them guilty of confirmation bias? Yes.

You claim this is not rampant. For the sake of argument let me agree with you. I still would have no way of knowing what is and is not accurate reporting. And my experience with it does not encourage me to judge ANY reporting with anything BUT a grain of salt.

By the way I would appreciate not being lumped in with large groups that some people on here disagree with. Just as there is no single group labeled "Black people" or "Gay People" or "Muslims" or "Portuguese Authors" because, guess what, individual people have individual opinions on things-just because I could be put in a group called "conservative" or "Christian" does not mean I walk lockstep with your idea of what either label means to YOU. It would be helpful, then, to take my words at face value instead of assuming I am calling all media "leftwing radical types" because I have no reason to think that even if a particular media outlet was conservative (Fox I'm looking at you now) means I don't take THEM with a large grain of salt either.

If any of you want to carry this any further feel free to go to MeTa, as I believe that's what it's for. Thank you.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:01 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


(And sorry if the above writing is convoluted because owie owie ouch ouch my tonsils hurt like a sonuvagun right now...)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:02 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, stop lumping me in with all those OTHER engineers! We may all have taken the same classes and been indoctrinated by the same instructors, but just because we both believe in the continuum of physical materials doesn't mean that, like, I didn't develop that theory based on my own personal relationship with the textbook.
posted by muddgirl at 1:14 PM on January 6, 2010


By "take with a grain of salt", do you mean you check multiple sources for the coverage of the same stories, or does it mean you view whatever's put in front of you through a veneer of doubt?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:17 PM on January 6, 2010


Marisa, the first if I have multiple sources to go by-and failing that, unfortunately the latter.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:31 PM on January 6, 2010


Muddgirl, what kind of engineer? Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Nuclear, etc etc? How can I put you in the right pigeonhole without that information?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:33 PM on January 6, 2010


If any of you want to carry this any further feel free to go to MeTa, as I believe that's what it's for. Thank you.

I'll respond to you here, then let this drop if that is what you prefer.

However, I don't intend to take a conversation which is both on topic for this FPP and not specifically about this website to MeTa, because that's not what MeTa is for.

First, I do hope you feel better. Sincerely. Tonsil pain is truly awful and I don't envy you what you're going through.

Down to business:

You said: "I still would have no way of knowing what is and is not accurate reporting. And my experience with it does not encourage me to judge ANY reporting with anything BUT a grain of salt.

By the way I would appreciate not being lumped in with large groups that some people on here disagree with."

Beg pardon?

I said: "Personally, I don't subscribe to the persecution-prone conservative worldview that news reports should automatically be considered biased without proof."

You said: "I came by that belief by seeing how things were reported"

You lumped yourself in by agreeing with me. Automatically assuming that everyone who works in media is a liar until proven otherwise is precisely the sort of worldview I suggested you hold. And you said you do. Did I miss something here?
posted by zarq at 1:57 PM on January 6, 2010


*sigh* There should be italics around "By the way I would appreciate not being lumped in with large groups that some people on here disagree with." in the above comment.

I suck at html coding. And always forget to use the provided tools.
posted by zarq at 1:59 PM on January 6, 2010


By the way I would appreciate not being lumped in with large groups that some people on here disagree with.

You have been here longer than most people who frequently post on this site and have revealed much of yourself in that time. You are not being judged for your associations. You are being judged for you.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:01 PM on January 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


Look, seeing as how I harbor a seething and virulent disgust for any and all forms of evangelicalism, I'm probably the last person that should be commenting here, but I keep seeing it in my Recent Activity because of a one-line observation I made two hundred comments ago, so here are my thoughts on the rather one-sided conversation here, for what it's worth:

I disagree with St Alia Of The Bunnies, and moreover I've made known my own thoughts about the USAFA before; moreover I have made clear what I think of Colorado Springs, both as a Coloradoan and as a Christian. However, a lot of people seem to be doing the pile-on thing in a knee-jerk way, and I think that's sort of silly. Specifically I've been interested in following this discussion because I really respect the perspective of zarq, and I've liked some of the directions he's gone with it. (I guess I should also say that I respect St Alia too, at least for being the underdog in the fight and for not stooping too much.)

Mostly, I wanted to take issue with something rather unfair that I was surprised to read here above zarq's username:

zarq: “Personally, I don't subscribe to the persecution-prone conservative worldview that news reports should automatically be considered biased without proof.”

Now, there's clearly nothing like a really significant pile-on going on here (perhaps because jessamyn has kindly deleted some crap comments) but it's sort of amazing to see this sentiment accepted whole by everyone here; it seems like it's only swallowed because it's a sentiment in St Alia's disfavor. I have to say that if it takes a "persecution-prone conservative worldview" to be deeply skeptical of news reports, then I'm Ronald Reagan's left nut. Sorry, friends, but distrust of the media is a hallmark of American thought generally speaking, not of 'conservative' or 'liberal' thought, nor of the left- or right-wing branches of it. And I appreciate that zarq was speaking of something that, to his mind, is characteristic of the conservative side of the argument, but frankly I can't really see a qualitative difference between St Alia's position and the one which zarq and I share here. He may know of more news reports than I do about the USAFA, and he may see it more often than I do in the news, but depending on the source I see reports about that institution constantly which describe it in no less than absolutely glowing terms, and seeing such reports doesn't make me completely change my position. Nor does it send me scampering to google to check their facts; I have an implicit sense that they're wrong, and I look to different sources, sources which I trust, for the truth. An uncharitable way to put this would be to say that I believe that "news reports should automatically be considered biased without proof;" it's uncharitable, as I say, but frankly I agree with it. I'm not going to fact-check every silly thing that comes my way. If I read it on the front page of USA TODAY, I'm not really going to think about it; I simply don't take it seriously enough to worry about it being true. And I think any sane person living in this country can't help but have the same approach to news and to the media in general; those sane people include liberals, conservatives, and those of us intelligent enough not to want to identify ourselves with either.

I know, zarq, that you were probably just a bit irked to have perfectly reasonable and fact-checked reports of religious intolerance (which I put real credence in) casually tossed aside by St Alia with a blithe "certain people have a different opinion," but you should have said so. Her distrust of media isn't a fault at all, rather it's probably a quality which you share with her. I think she ought to put less faith in what she hears from her son about the place and more faith in real research that's been done in black and white - in fact, anybody unfortunate enough to enter that inner orbit of hell known as Colorado Springs should learn to question everything they hear and demand everything in writing before they believe a word, and I hope her son can keep his head up, too, for his own good - but that's not because of a particular aspect of her conservatism; it's just human nature.
posted by koeselitz at 2:45 PM on January 6, 2010


Pope Guilty: “You have been here longer than most people who frequently post on this site and have revealed much of yourself in that time. You are not being judged for your associations. You are being judged for you.”

Yes, but it had nothing to do with the subject at hand. In fact, if the word "conservative" had been left out, this wouldn't be an issue. A knee-jerk distrust of the news media is (a) not necessarily a bad thing, (b) probably common to everyone in this thread, and (c) not solely a conservative trait. If zarq had just said, "personally, I don't subscribe to the worldview that news reports should automatically be considered biased without proof," this wouldn't even be an issue - but he used a legitimate (albeit misplaced) characterization to "lump her in" by throwing in the "persecution-prone conservative" jibe. I don't see anything here indicating that St Alia is anything like a persecution-prone conservative; I have a hard time imagining one, in fact, and while I have a good deal of distaste for conservatism in general I can't really see much truth in the stereotype. Stick to the subject at hand: the USAFA and the religious discrimination there.
posted by koeselitz at 2:51 PM on January 6, 2010


koeselitz: "I don't see anything here indicating that St Alia is anything like a persecution-prone conservative; I have a hard time imagining one, in fact, and while I have a good deal of distaste for conservatism in general I can't really see much truth in the stereotype."

I agree with a lot of what you're saying, but I would say that a persecution complex is a pretty common trait in the modern conservative movement. I think all the foot-stomping about the "War on Christmas" is pretty typical of that.
posted by brundlefly at 3:03 PM on January 6, 2010


USAFA is the one with the record of rampant religious discrimination.

Previous MeFi thread on the USAFA: "(One over all)" is the official Air Force Motto. Is that one named Jesus?
posted by ericb at 4:15 PM on January 6, 2010


Believe everything you read, do you?

Yeah. Especially when we hear from the Air Force Academy leader and the Pentagon.
New York Times | February 7, 2008: Air Force Pays Evangelicals to Preach About Terrorism.

Colorado Springs Gazette | April 29, 2005: Air Force Academy evangelical bias ’systemic,’ group says.

CNN | May 5, 2005: Air Force probes religious bias charges at academy.

U.S. Pentagon | June 22, 2005: The Report of the Headquarters Review Group Concerning the. Religious Climate at the U.S. Air Force Academy [PDF]

Christian Century | June 28, 2005: Air Force Academy leader admits faith bias is pervasive.

New York Times | June 25, 2008: Religion and Its Role Are in Dispute at the Service Academies.

New York Times | February 28, 2009: Questions Raised Anew About Religion in Military.
posted by ericb at 4:19 PM on January 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


I would say that a persecution complex is a pretty common trait in the modern conservative movement.

Duke University Press: Persecution Complexes and the "War on Christians." || Excerpt.
posted by ericb at 4:33 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I shudder to think how ugly this will get once textbooks are all electronic and infinitely malleable.

The Tipping Point: Texas Textbook Politics Meets the Digital Revolution
"Under new legislation, school districts for the first time can spend a portion of state “book” money on computer hardware and digital content. And the state can stockpile and open-source electronic material, made available free to all schools. Some, including State Board of Education members, fear the explosion of choice will produce an erosion of quality content." [more]
Fear the explosion of choice will produce an erosion of quality content? Or, fear losing their iron tight grip on the current system?
posted by ericb at 5:21 PM on January 6, 2010


My son's grade 6 math textbook is completely online. Last night he reviewed the section on calculating percentage change and watched a video of a woman walk through a couple example questions.

The only thing that upset me was that he wouldn't believe me when I told him I could explain it to him just as well. Kids.
posted by GuyZero at 5:24 PM on January 6, 2010


Be sure to check out Texas Freedom Network which seeks to counter the Religious Right in Texas.

BTW -- they point out that the State Board of Education has scheduled only one public hearing on the proposed social studies curriculum standards. That hearing will occur on Wednesday, January 13 in Austin. If interested at testifying at that meeting, they have a form here.
posted by ericb at 5:28 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Today President Obama made remarks on the "Educate to Innovate" Campaign and Science Teaching and Mentoring Awards.
"To bring more educators into the classroom, the National Math and Science Initiative is working with Texas Instruments and the Dell Foundation to prepare almost 5,000 new math and science teachers in the next five years -- through a program that allows young people to earn teaching certificates and science degrees at the same time."
I sure hope those two Texas companies are involved in efforts to combat the influence of religious folks on school textbooks and curriculum in the state.
posted by ericb at 5:32 PM on January 6, 2010


I said: I think grammar is essential to reading comprehension and critical thinking

delmoi asked: Um, why? Do you have an actual reason for this rather idiosyncratic belief?

Because understanding how words are put together to form larger units, and how those units are put together, and so on and so forth, is fundamental to understanding how those words/units create meaning. The college students that I've taught over the last 7 years can look at a text and usually understand the basics. But they often don't know how to follow the subtle syntactical cues that reveal, for example, the logical relationships between various parts of an argument. I'm not talking about drilling them in identifying nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs (although, a little of that would help). I'm talking about the need to understand the intricacies of how words fit together and the varieties of meaning that can be created from a few small changes.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:50 AM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


SK: That's not because they lack understanding of grammar. If they have trouble following subtle syntactic clues, might I suggest it's because they're subtle, and not because they're syntactic? There's no such thing as a native speaker of a language needing grammatical instruction. For non-native but fluent speakers of an artificial language (like college students and literary English), the presumption should be against the need for more grammar instruction.
posted by jock@law at 11:42 AM on January 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


koeselitz, you gave me a lot to think about. I'll try to form my thoughts into something coherent below. I apologize if this rambles a bit. Hopefully it'll make sense.

To answer your first question, I saw two comments that were deleted which attacked Alia personally. I thought one of them was pretty nasty, and had said so (that one's gone too.) But unless I missed 'em, no comments were removed that defended her position.

Anyway...

I know, zarq, that you were probably just a bit irked to have perfectly reasonable and fact-checked reports of religious intolerance (which I put real credence in) casually tossed aside by St Alia with a blithe "certain people have a different opinion," but you should have said so. Her distrust of media isn't a fault at all, rather it's probably a quality which you share with her.

You're right. I was. And yes, it is a quality I share with you both. I admit I should have been clearer and not jumped to conclusions so quickly.

On some issues, (mostly economic,) I'm an old-school conservative. In others, (mostly social,) I'm an unabashed liberal. As I believe Alia was trying to say, people are nuanced and rarely fit a specific political type that agrees with every platform position of their chosen party. Pigeonholing folks based on their stated position for a single issue or three is foolish at best, and dishonest at worst....

And I think any sane person living in this country can't help but have the same approach to news and to the media in general; those sane people include liberals, conservatives, and those of us intelligent enough not to want to identify ourselves with either.

also: Yes, but it had nothing to do with the subject at hand.

It's a matter of degrees, I think. Her comment hit a nerve with me because it seemed to evoke an attitude that I (and I guess others) feel is quite widespread in the modern (neo)conservative movement: generally speaking, as a group they are incredibly distrustful of authority unless they happen to wield it themselves, or agree with those exercising such power. I realize that a mild form of this trait is inherently American. You're right, I do share that skepticism to some degree myself. I agree that we all probably do! But modern neoconservatives have turned the American tendency towards distrust of authority into a form of vehement anti-intellectualism which denies that anything is valid unless it agrees with their religious and/or political views. Even in the face of evidence to the contrary. This was discussed a bit in the comments of a post I made to the blue last year.

Isn't that very anti-intellectualism what this FPP is about? I know some of Alia's political positions from contributions she's made here and from the few threads we've both participated in. So when I presented her with what I felt was evidence about the USAFA and she blithely dismissed it, I chalked her action up to a stereotype. I'd like to see her response to ericb's links, though. They contain more content than one man's assertions of wrongdoing.

In my second comment, I tried to connect her attitude to the fact that Weinstein's detractors have been overwhelmingly religious conservatives. Was it wrong of me to do so? Maybe. (I'm not entirely convinced of that.) But I still think it's on topic.

However....

Stick to the subject at hand: the USAFA and the religious discrimination there.

I should have. You're right. But at the time I thought I was addressing an underlying problem....
posted by zarq at 11:48 AM on January 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


a persecution complex is a pretty common trait in the modern conservative movement

it's not a "complex" to perceive something that's true. liberal anger is so common that it's become cliché. i can almost guarantee that a post in favor of MTF-FTM marriage at the Volokh Conspiracy wouldn't get a response of "OH MY GOD FUCKING DIE, YOU FUCKS!", and if it did the mods wouldnt let it stand, and if they did it wouldnt get 32 favorites.

ive spoken out several times about how hostility, anger, and alienation from the far left are counterprogressive. people dont want to associate themselves with mean freaks. ultimately, progressives who engage in public discourse the way shmegegge did above drives people away from progressive causes.
posted by jock@law at 11:54 AM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, this derail about the USAFA is bullshit. (1) because it touches a matter of St. Alia's kids, and I really think discussing whether MeFites kids are smarter or dumber is completely inappropriate. if it were me, i would resign from metafilter immediately. that kind of behavior is absolutely not okay. it is against the guidelines. "focus[] comments on the issues ... not at other members of the site" includes a fortiori not at the CHILDREN of other members of the site. please please please stop that kind of hostile behavior, regardless of whether mods have given you talking-to or not. (2) whatever religious indoctrination happens at USAFA, it still requires good grades and test scores. to the extent that we ARE going to discuss proxies of intelligence for anyone , admission into USAFA is objectively a strong proxy.

so can we just stfu and drop the subject? this thread is about textbooks in texas, not about alia's kids.
posted by jock@law at 12:02 PM on January 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


By the way koeselitz, thank you. I greatly respect your perspectives, too, and it's no exaggeration to say I've learned a hell of a lot over the years from your contributions here.
posted by zarq at 12:05 PM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


[a few more comments removed - go to metatalk to talk about (or to) a specific user and keep comments on-topic of this thread please. Absolutely no bullshit about specific other people's parenting skills, in case that wasn't already clear]
posted by jessamyn at 12:23 PM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


a persecution complex is a pretty common trait in the modern conservative movement

There was a really interesting discussion about this here recently, I think, or did I read it somewhere else? I can't remember the subject, but people were talking about conservatives' ability to be members of an overwhelmingly powerful group (American, Christians), yet whine about persecution and victimization (Muslims are gonna destroy America, War on Christmas). Anyone remember this?
posted by Mavri at 1:04 PM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


ive spoken out several times about how hostility, anger, and alienation from the far left are counterprogressive. people dont want to associate themselves with mean freaks.

funny how it seems to work just fine for some people.

by funny, I mean, a sad and depressing expose on the human condition.
posted by nomisxid at 1:25 PM on January 7, 2010


MeTa
posted by zarq at 1:29 PM on January 7, 2010


jock@law: "it's not a "complex" to perceive something that's true. liberal anger is so common that it's become cliché. i can almost guarantee that a post in favor of MTF-FTM marriage at the Volokh Conspiracy wouldn't get a response of "OH MY GOD FUCKING DIE, YOU FUCKS!", and if it did the mods wouldnt let it stand, and if they did it wouldnt get 32 favorites."

You would have a valid point if foul-mouthed comments on the web counted as "persecution." And the idea that foul-mouthed, violent rhetoric is a characteristic of the left as opposed to the right is absurd on the face of it.
posted by brundlefly at 1:29 PM on January 7, 2010


nomisxid: funny how it seems to work just fine for some people.

Would you mind explaining exactly how my comment to koeselitz places me in the same category as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck?
posted by zarq at 1:31 PM on January 7, 2010


I used to work on these state-specific pieces of shit. This particular cover is one reason I no longer do:

http://www.advancetracker.com/Advance_eBook/Main.html?bookId=109334 (warning, Texas mathematics in textbook reader, but it's worth it to see this asinine cover)

I love that they get their own special covers in addition -- apparently to appeal to little girls in Texas who might not be into the whole mathematics thang yet. So disturbing! (I'm anti-special-Texas editions, not anti-Texas [well, not very much].) Don't look directly into the pony's eyes, whatever you do.
posted by theredpen at 2:33 PM on January 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


God damn it, theredpen. I'll never be able to un-see that.
posted by brundlefly at 2:38 PM on January 7, 2010


@ theredpen: That is ABSOLUTELY SO CUTE!!!! But I suspect it's intended to scare boys away from math, more than to attract girls. Any middle-school boy who has that in his hand outside of class is going to get smeared by the football team. And the soccer team. And the gymnastics team.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 3:29 PM on January 7, 2010


...and the glee club.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 3:30 PM on January 7, 2010


The "K" on the front indicates that anyone carrying the book is unlikely to get beat up by anyone other than a man in a van with candy.
posted by GuyZero at 3:31 PM on January 7, 2010


I'm talking about the need to understand the intricacies of how words fit together and the varieties of meaning that can be created from a few small changes.

Just the other day I noted that it has been a long time since I saw one of those complaints about how people misunderstand email because it lacks the nuanced signals of speech, and that's why we need emoticons. So I suspect most people are actually getting better at understanding the intricacies of how words fit together, now that they read more.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 3:34 PM on January 7, 2010


I remember reading about this in the excellent book Lies My Teacher Told Me. Nice to see nothing has changed in the decade and a half since that book was written!

Lunasol, I remember reading about this too, in that same book. It was required reading for a history course... in a Texas school.
posted by Houstonian at 3:34 PM on January 7, 2010


Would you mind explaining exactly how my comment to koeselitz places me in the same category as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck?

I'm not clear why you think it would. You said "people dont want to associate themselves with mean freaks.", and I pointed out that Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are very popular for being mean, so in fact being mean does work for some people. Are you a hate-based conservative talk show host when you're not on metafilter?
posted by nomisxid at 3:51 PM on January 7, 2010


Does anyone remember exactly how big a debt Reagan left for the Clinton administration to pay off? Was it $3 soon forgotten trillion?
posted by Cranberry at 3:54 PM on January 7, 2010


I'm not clear why you think it would. You said "people dont want to associate themselves with mean freaks.",

I did not say that. jock@law said that.

and I pointed out that Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are very popular for being mean,

And linked to my comment as well.

You said: "funny how it seems to work just fine for some people."

(The link to my comment is at "some people.")

Are you a hate-based conservative talk show host when you're not on metafilter?

No. Was the link unintentional?
posted by zarq at 4:30 PM on January 7, 2010


OK, that's really weird. Now it no longer directs there. WTF??? I swear, it did a little while ago.

*sigh*

Forget it. I'm sorry. Apparently I've completely lost my mind. :(
posted by zarq at 4:32 PM on January 7, 2010


There's no such thing as a native speaker of a language needing grammatical instruction.

Zuh? Where did you get that idea from? I mean, I don't want to get into a whole prescriptivist vs. descriptivist debate, but just because someone is a native speaker of a language doesn't mean that person knows intuitively every possible way to structure a sentence. That's like saying that native speakers don't need to learn vocabulary in their native tongue.

But my original point about grammar was that I think it is crucial to critical thinking and comprehension. Let me give you a simple example:

Many students even up through (and past) college don't know the difference between active and passive voice. I would argue that being able to distinguish between these two grammatical concepts is essential in, let's say, decoding political rhetoric. If a politician says, "Mistakes were made" rather than "I made a mistake," being able to identify, at least implicitly, that the first is passive voice and eliminates the actor, and, rhetorically speaking, avoids taking blame.

Now, that's a pretty simple example, and most people, when you point it out, will get it. But for even slightly more complex statements, many people can get lost because they don't know how to parse sentences. If you gave someone this sentence:

"A bill was passed by Congress on Monday that allows police officers to taser anyone who farts loudly in public."

And asked them, "Who did what when?" you'd probably get a good number of wrong answers.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:30 PM on January 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


"a persecution complex is a pretty common trait in the modern conservative movement"

There was a really interesting discussion about this here recently, I think, or did I read it somewhere else? I can't remember the subject, but people were talking about conservatives' ability to be members of an overwhelmingly powerful group (American, Christians), yet whine about persecution and victimization (Muslims are gonna destroy America, War on Christmas). Anyone remember this?



Oh my God, Mavri, I'm favoriting that comment so HARD.

I recently received an email from an evangelical friend of mine bemoaning how he's so persecuted and put upon because, and get this: he's a white, male, heterosexual, married with children, middle-class evangelical in America.

Now, I've encountered the mindset an awful lot, but the blatant irony and brazenness in his statement really took me quite aback. It actually shocked me with its gross distortion of reality. I penned a long email to him saying how I appreciated that he's been conditioned to think of himself as an oppressed minority, in spite of the fact that every demographic group to which he belongs is the empowered one.

I pointed out that he's a middle-class, Caucasian male, which has opened to him and continues to open to him economic opportunity that others could only dream about. I pointed out that he's a married heterosexual with children, which places him in a remarkably privileged position, not only socioculturally but legally. I pointed out to him that he's relatively young, with a great job and a great house, from a nuclear family and supportive parents, with innate artistic and athletic gifts that have been further cultivated by his position of privilege. I pointed out that, regarding his religion, there's a Christian church on every street corner in this town with every flavor you can imagine, that the vast majority of those in political power ascribe to his religion and many are active in promoting it in the public square.

I concluded by observing that he has never seen what real persecution is, having been coddled in the cocoon of the American society and that what he was calling "persecution" from liberals was simply the result of living in a pluralistic society where people have the right to disagree with you, sometimes vehemently.

But after I'd written all that, I didn't send it. Because, I figured, though he probably needs to hear it, my experience is that folks in the empowered majority who embrace this persecution complex - and that's what it is - are more interested in holding tight to the privileges of victimhood and martyrdom than they are about having a reality check. It's an incredibly selfish worldview that enjoys the perquisites of being in the empowered majority but also greedily appropriates to itself the emotional and moral domain of the aggrieved victim, as well.

That and, to be honest, after getting this email from him, I felt like I didn't know him at all, anymore. And with that alienation came a dull sensation of apathy about trying to help him see how far up his own ass his head was. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
posted by darkstar at 8:11 PM on January 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


In other news, noted power-abusing, right-wing, megalomaniac Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now officially under investigation by the Feds in AZ and a grand jury has been empanelled.

Right-wing outrage about the poor Sheriff's being a victim of liberal persecution in 3...2...1...
posted by darkstar at 8:52 PM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


""A bill was passed by Congress on Monday that allows police officers to taser anyone who farts loudly in public."

And asked them, "Who did what when?" you'd probably get a good number of wrong answers.
"

On Monday, Congress passed a bill allowing police to taser loud public farters.

Enjoy taciturn editing? Support your local journalism school.
posted by klangklangston at 9:44 PM on January 7, 2010


Sorry, friends, but distrust of the media is a hallmark of American thought generally speaking

Seems to me that distrust of the media is quite properly characteristic of anyone who has ever seen reportage of a public demonstration that they've attended personally.

All you ever see reported is the biffo.

Even when there wasn't any.
posted by flabdablet at 1:09 AM on January 8, 2010


I recently received an email from an evangelical friend of mine bemoaning how he's so persecuted and put upon because, and get this: he's a white, male, heterosexual, married with children, middle-class evangelical in America.

Yeah, a HS friend friended me on FB and then proceeded to post this astonishing War on Christmas thing that was apparently going around. (One of my HS friends who has stayed closer to home said at least a third of her FB friends posted it. I only had this one who did.) She's a Christian who has lived her entire 36 years in a small town in Northeast Texas where, to my knowledge, 99.9% of the population is at least nominally Christian. (I'm sure there must be a few non-Christians in town, but none that I have ever been aware of.) That she was able to convince herself that she is a member of a persecuted group is mind-boggling.

Like you I composed a response. And then thought better of it. And hid her updates when her next one was about how she is one of only 3% of people who would have the courage to stand up for Jesus by posting to FB about Jesus. Or something. Gah!
posted by Mavri at 8:08 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


And hid her updates

That FB feature has saved me more than one friendship, for sure.
posted by darkstar at 9:28 AM on January 8, 2010


That raises the question, though: If you can't even stand to see someone's FB status updates, do you even want to be their friend?
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:18 PM on January 8, 2010


You raise a good point that I think has been discussed on the Blue before. Essentially, for me, an FB "friend" is a special sort of social networking relationship that may include my actual friends, acquaintances, family, colleagues and so forth.

But more to your point, I have real-life friends whose every brain fart I don't care to hear about - particularly when they seem to be much more aggressively "TMI-communicative" on FB than they are in real life. Something about the FB that makes them disgorge every little thought rattling around in their noggins without any pre-processing. Sometimes it's unrestrained venting of political/religious screed that they never do in person. Or maybe it's sharing every little bowel-movement-esque detail about themselves, which, again, they don't do in person. In real life, they're temperate and pleasant and cool. But online, their persona is somehow too, too much.

Yet, simply de-friending them would create social drama I'm not interested in, and possibly send the message that I don't want to be their friend, at all, which wouldn't be accurate. So I remain "FB friended" to them as a social emollient, but hide their updates so they don't drive me insane online.
posted by darkstar at 5:07 PM on January 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


Can't put my finger on why, but that's a quality bit of writing there, darkstar.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:33 PM on January 8, 2010


'Social emollient' is pretty nice, for one thing.
posted by box at 5:08 AM on January 9, 2010


Aww, y'all...thanks for the compliment. We all get lucky once in a while, I guess. :)
posted by darkstar at 7:57 AM on January 9, 2010


darkstar: I agree. I know a lot of people IRL who are a bit annoying on FB. I also have FB "friends" who I don't really like even IRL, but because of social/work circles, I'm not quite ready to defriend them and deal with the drama that would entail. Then there were the people who I just hated in both realms, so they got tossed!
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:34 PM on January 9, 2010


Barring something like racism or homophobia, I just don't feel like it's worth potential drama to de-friend someone for being an idiot, esp when I can just hide them and pretend they don't exist.
posted by Mavri at 8:02 AM on January 11, 2010




The first public hearing on the new textbook standards was last night.
Some Texans earlier in the day encouraged the board to expose school children to "American exceptionalism," the idea that the United States is unique among world civilizations through history...

The tribal leader later said that Native Americans learned about "American exeptionalism" the hard way.

"We accepted everybody that came in. We had some bad immigration laws," Macias said.
posted by muddgirl at 5:56 AM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Great. Governor Goodhair rejected $700m in funding for Texas schools.
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:50 AM on January 14, 2010


Not to worry. They'll just make up the extra money by selling their "New and Improved U.S. History" textbooks to all the other red states.
posted by darkstar at 3:41 PM on January 19, 2010


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