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Thomas Jefferson? Never heard of him. You Must Mean Thomas Aquinas.
March 12, 2010 12:42 PM   Subscribe

Texas votes to adopt new education standards and curriculum designed to give history instruction a conservative slant. Among other vital corrections to the historical record, the school board: "managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among the conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”)
posted by saulgoodman (127 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
There is no doubt that the Founding Fathers were inspired by John Calvin's idea of a puritanical theocracy. I hope they'll include the fact that every patriot sucks at the teat of jingoistic puritan morality one way or another.
posted by parmanparman at 12:47 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jackasses.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:50 PM on March 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Texas is one of two states (Alaska is the other) which are not taking part in the latest push towards a set of national K-12 education standards, supported by the National Governor's Association and the federal Dept. of Ed.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:50 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


The American Taliban strikes again.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 12:52 PM on March 12, 2010 [24 favorites]


They also replaced the word “capitalism” throughout their texts with the “free-enterprise system.”

“Let’s face it, capitalism does have a negative connotation,” said one conservative member, Teri Leo. “You know, ‘capitalist pig!’ ”

posted by box at 12:53 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hope this helps to break the control that Texas has on school textbook content across the country. Because the alternative is pretty horrifying.
posted by gurple at 12:53 PM on March 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think we mentioned this last time it came up on MeFi, but this has a national relevance: Texas is the second-biggest of the states which select common textbooks and the biggest (California) is bankrupt enough that it won't be buying textbooks anytime soon. To bag the market, textbook publishers will start changing texts to reflect these standards, and everybody's kids will read them.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:54 PM on March 12, 2010 [24 favorites]


Texas Secession. It's a great idea.
posted by R. Mutt at 12:55 PM on March 12, 2010 [10 favorites]


They must viscerally hate their children to lie to them and disadvantage them like that. I can't imagine having children and hating them so much that I demand they be deceived and deprived of information about the world.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:55 PM on March 12, 2010 [42 favorites]


In light of Texas' inordinate influence on education through the rest of the USA due to the textbook situation, let's just make this a simple:

LOLUSA
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:55 PM on March 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


And of course, the really terrible thing about this, is that the textbook companies all tailor their content to Texas' standards, so students all across the country will now be learning history Texas-style.

In the age of digital publishing, why can't the textbook companies fix this problem?

Why can't they publish a set for Texas and like-minded crazy states and a set for the rest of the country?

For subjects like History, Civics and Biology, following the lead of Texas and other states with right-wing legislatures is just not acceptable !!!!

What can outraged citizens do to persuade the textbook publishers to wake up?

How can we get other publishers to enter the textbook field and provide other viewpoints?
posted by marsha56 at 12:57 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Waiting for my state (Kentucky) to adopt them in 3...2...1...
posted by deezil at 12:57 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


There were no historians, sociologists or economists consulted at the meetings, though some members of the conservative bloc held themselves out as experts on certain topics.

Indeed.
posted by gurple at 12:57 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Its like Conservapedia for text books.
posted by charred husk at 12:57 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


It would be cheaper, in the long run, just to hand laptops to all the Texan children, which can only load up Conservapedia.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:58 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


And of course, the really terrible thing about this, is that the textbook companies all tailor their content to Texas' standards, so students all across the country will now be learning history Texas-style.

In the age of digital publishing, why can't the textbook companies fix this problem?


Actually, the article observes that this very thing might start happening now....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:58 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm also glad that movement conservatives have given up on trying to pretend that they have anything in common with Jefferson and are now just trying to ignore him.
posted by charred husk at 1:01 PM on March 12, 2010 [17 favorites]


Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.
posted by Maximian at 1:01 PM on March 12, 2010 [15 favorites]


.
posted by cashman at 1:02 PM on March 12, 2010


Texas Secession. It's a great idea.

We joke about it, but maybe it would be best for America if that free-loading state were to leave. No more parasitical health care, energy, military and medical research funding for Texas. We should focus those dollars on states that don't play political games with everyone's children.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:02 PM on March 12, 2010 [10 favorites]


Actually, the article observes that this very thing might start happening now....

They must viscerally hate one of Texas' major businesses to put them in a position where they're potentially going to lose a ton of business.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:02 PM on March 12, 2010


Actually, the article observes that this very thing might start happening now....

Is it really going to be any better for the US in the long run with each state choosing to teach only its preferred versions of history and science?
posted by saulgoodman at 1:03 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


The No Men strike again! Damn, they've been busy this week.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:03 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Luckily, most of the kids these days can't read, anyway.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:06 PM on March 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Actually one of the crazier ones on the school board just lost the republican primary
The top conservative activist on the powerful Texas Board of Education, who rejects evolution and has pushed for a revisionist right-wing U.S. history curriculum, is on the way out, after a moderate candidate defeated him in a tight primary last week.
posted by delmoi at 1:08 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, historical revisionists; Does the past not fit with your world view? Change it*.

*: the past, not your world view, that would be crazy talk.
posted by quin at 1:09 PM on March 12, 2010


I'm also glad that movement conservatives have given up on trying to pretend that they have anything in common with Jefferson and are now just trying to ignore him.

Isn't it the height of historical irony that these so-called patriotic conservatives embrace a vision of political order that in its essential form just recapitulates the vision of political and social order formerly enshrined as "The Divine Right of Kings"--the very belief system that, arguably, the American revolution most sought to reject?

America, in their view, should be led by the anointed few, those whose material wealth and success are proof of their status as the divinely chosen leaders of humanity.

That's basically the same doctrine held by British loyalists during the revolution.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:10 PM on March 12, 2010 [22 favorites]


Is it really going to be any better for the US in the long run with each state choosing to teach only its preferred versions of history and science?

Well, at least the damage is more isolated, like a ship with multiple compartments in case of flooding. Having a national standard is more likely to have people play political football with it, in my opinion. Not to say there shouldn't be some national guidance that can point out to states how detached from reality their educational standards are.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 1:11 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I take heart in the fact that my poor diet laden with fast food will probably kill me before this generation of purposefully dumbed-down children makes any political moves.
posted by graventy at 1:11 PM on March 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


To bag the market, textbook publishers will start changing texts to reflect these standards, and everybody's kids will read them.

I guarantee you that's not the case. I work for a large textbook publisher and we will create Texas-specific books, but we don't ever use the Texas standards as a larger template for a national edition. That's some kind of fear-mongering myth. Compare the actual textbooks.
posted by mattbucher at 1:13 PM on March 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


Conservapedia

Oh wow
posted by Big_B at 1:13 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Don't they understand that the separation of church and state is meant to protect BOTH the church AND the state?
posted by blue_beetle at 1:14 PM on March 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


When they added "under god" to the pledge it was obvious that our government was entering a death spiral of idiocy.
posted by polyhedron at 1:14 PM on March 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


I live in Texas and I have a 10 year old daughter. This sucks. A lot. Looks like saving for private school is in my future! If I can find one that isn't religious.
posted by shmurley at 1:14 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


The good news is that McLeroy was voted out in the primaries. The bad news is that he and his merry band of anti-education types have already done their harm, and that McLeroy won't be leaving the Board until after the elections....

My kid is three, I'm disturbed because where I live the only options are church schools and public school. And thanks to McLeroy the difference between the two is getting smaller every day.

Blazecock Pileon Actually, isn't Texas one of the very few Republican voting states that actually pays more to the Fed than it gets back?
posted by sotonohito at 1:17 PM on March 12, 2010


I work for a large textbook publisher and we will create Texas-specific books, but we don't ever use the Texas standards as a larger template for a national edition. That's some kind of fear-mongering myth.

Your textbook publisher aside, this effect is so widely acknowledged that even Fox News is willing to concede it.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:23 PM on March 12, 2010


Boy do I miss Molly Ivins.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:25 PM on March 12, 2010 [18 favorites]


We joke about it, but maybe it would be best for America if that free-loading state were to leave.

Nobody like Rick Perry, but whether you like it or not, Texas is still a donor state.

No more parasitical health care, energy, military and medical research funding for Texas. We should focus those dollars on states that don't play political games with everyone's children.

No more MD Anderson Cancer Center, Harry Ransom Center, good BBQ, good country music, Rice and UT, NASA mission control, and more tech companies than you can shake a stick at, including major campuses for your beloved Apple.

And oh yeah, where are the mods this week? Hmm...
posted by kmz at 1:26 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


John Calvin's idea of a puritanical theocracy

Actually, Calvin explicitly recognized the need for a separation of church and state, which is why I was surprised to see his name here. Like the founders of the US, Calvin believed that government should be informed by religious belief, but that civil and religious jurisdictions should be separate. I guess if you're writing the textbooks you can cherry-pick whatever quotes you like, but Calvinists represented a gigantic shift away from theocracy as practiced in the Middle Ages with respect to Catholicism, and was a precursor to Enlightenment thinking that made democracy (and human rights, and modern science, etc.) possible. Also, that pesky predestination doctrine probably doesn't go down too easily with fundamentalists...
posted by stinker at 1:27 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, isn't Texas one of the very few Republican voting states that actually pays more to the Fed than it gets back?

If that's true, it is much less true under Rick "Let's Maybe Secede Because Obama's Blackness Is Oppressive" Perry, whose administration has helped itself to a 109% increase in federal dollars.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:28 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I sort of see what you all are saying, but the fact remains that the United States is still today a Christian country founded on Christian values. The colonists and settlers who arrived in the unpopulated deserts of the southwest brought with them the work ethic from England, Scotland and Wales based on protestant and Calvinist values. Those protestant ideals allowed them to bring to the primitive natives they encountered the gift of Western civilization, along with its medicine and still-nascent technology. Those things have been an unqualified success across the board.

So if Texas wants to perpetuate this view of the world - if they want to be the only ones in the high-unemployment, knowledge based economy with this education - then I for one will not stand in their way.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:28 PM on March 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


Actually, I can kind of speak for one of the high school textbook publishers (of which there are only two in the country) -- Mr. Peter Petridish works for one of them. Pretty much every state gets different editions of textbooks, due to the differing standards of each state. These textbooks (or more accurately textbook chapters) are written to meet the standards of each state, and they do not normally package the 'Texas' version in for the other states. Chapters, with possible different versions of the same chapter for different states, are then selected piecemeal to create a book. This is a new method (last 5 years?) due to technological advances, so Fox News might be working on old data.
posted by Peter Petridish at 1:32 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


more tech companies than you can shake a stick at, including major campuses for your beloved Apple

It gets away from the point of this thread, but I, for one, would prefer Texas stand on its principles of independence and limited government and not allow the (federal) NSA and Microsoft to build an eavesdropping nexus in its backyard.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:34 PM on March 12, 2010


Jefferson is not well liked among the conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”

Yeah, too bad that asshole ever learned to write.
posted by sallybrown at 1:35 PM on March 12, 2010


I am not usually at all sanguine on this particular vector, but on a national level this sounds like something the market can and will cure. If the Texas Board of Education abuses its power as the largest textbook market by pushing a hard & counterfactual ideological line, it becomes more profitable to market textbooks nationally against the Texas textbook standards.

That or hash this out at the national level where at least it'll be under a brighter spotlight.

It still sucks for the kids in Texas of course.

(On preview, welp. Advances!)
posted by furiousthought at 1:35 PM on March 12, 2010


Lord Chancellor: Well, at least the damage is more isolated, like a ship with multiple compartments in case of flooding.

This would be truer if Texas were less close to a monopsony on textbooks.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 1:39 PM on March 12, 2010


No more...good BBQ

He said get rid of Texas, not the Carolinas!
posted by sallybrown at 1:39 PM on March 12, 2010 [13 favorites]


If these people had a time machine they would actually go back in time and try to kill Thomas Jefferson. (Now that I think about it, that's really not a bad idea for a screenplay: Rogue conservatives traveling back in time to assisnate Jefferson, and a lone member of the ACLU from the future trying to stop them. It's about as good as that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter thing I keep hearing about, anyway.)
posted by dortmunder at 1:39 PM on March 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Your textbook publisher aside, this effect is so widely acknowledged that even Fox News is willing to concede it.

Ummm, I worked in publishing for a few years, and I'm not buying this just because it's widely believed. Almost every state wants textbooks that are specifically written for their standards, and they get them.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:40 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is why, although I've lived in Texas for 18 years, I do not, and never will, consider myself a Texan.

It's certainly not the only reason, though. Texas supplies a neverending cornucopia of reasons.
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:41 PM on March 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I sort of see what you all are saying, but the fact remains that the United States is still today a Christian country founded on Christian values.

No, the fact doesn't remain that, because it's never been that. Franklin, Jefferson, Washington--not a single one of the major post-revolutionary figures who established the country was particularly concerned with enshrining what people mean now when they speak of "Christian values." And most, like Jefferson and Franklin, couldn't have been more hostile to the idea of religion playing any role whatsoever in the political process.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:42 PM on March 12, 2010 [14 favorites]


wait. maybe my irony detector is just busted. either way.

the first legal settlement in the US was a commercial enterprise, not a settlement of religious pilgrims.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:47 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't it be interesting if we never had separation of church and state in America and rabid fundies had to tithe to a liberal, mainline protestant church like the Episcopal Church? I am not advocating this but I don't think events would have turned out to their liking if the founders actually did what they claim to wish they had.
posted by Tashtego at 1:47 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


No, the fact doesn't remain that, because it's never been that.

Psst! Read his whole comment! He doesn't agree with this!
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:50 PM on March 12, 2010


And I should preview before I post.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:51 PM on March 12, 2010


Tashtego PZ Meyer, (in?)famous net atheist proposed that we choose a new state religion every year by means of a reality TV show, complete with getting protected or kicked out due to semi-random results in tests, etc. Here's his blog post on the topic.
posted by sotonohito at 1:54 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Homeschooling: lookin' better every day. Of course, that's my privilege talking. We could probably swing it; lots of Texas parents can't afford to.

FTR: lots of progressives here in Texas, more than you'd think. But our state Dem party is a mess. We're outgunned by the conservatives (who are mostly the friends of the money class) and outnumbered by the ignorant. If it wasn't for family ties, I'd have moved long ago. On the other hand, I want to stay and fight, but Jesus, we face a shitload of stupid/evil/crazy in this state.
posted by emjaybee at 1:56 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


From Gurple's link: Apparently McLeroy went through a period of questioning his faith and drew up a list of reasons he could not accept Jesus, which included:

"Some things he read in the Bible didn't make sense with what he was learning in dental school, he said."

I would love to know what those are.
posted by ekroh at 1:57 PM on March 12, 2010


Ok, as someone with conservative sympathies I want to say-this is not what the original movement was about. This is the takeover of the movement by religous nut jobs. This is like PETA or ELF being blamed for all people who self identify as liberals. I also admit to nut jobs like this are why I don't live in Texas (which is where my family has lived for several generations-back to when it was Texas, Mexico not Texas, USA). Conservativism used to be about not just changing shit for the sake of changing it, but rather slow, incremental change that could be reversed when the law of unintended consequence bit you in the ass. Just like liberalism used to be about liberating of individuals from unnecessary and arbitary governmental control of ones life (which is what the high ideals that the founders did believe in apear to be about). How the hell did we let this happen? I am becoming more firm in my belief that anyone who wants high political office or power is automatically unfit for it.

Maybe a lottery system for who gets to be in charge would be better?

BTW- I am well aware of the limits of whom the founders wanted the blessings of liberty to fall on, and thankfully we have changed that officially and are fighting the slow battle of changing it in reality. Just don't want the thread to become about that, when it clearly is and should be about the evil of these asshats in texas.
posted by bartonlong at 2:00 PM on March 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


"Some things he read in the Bible didn't make sense with what he was learning in dental school, he said."

I would love to know what those are.


Knowledge is the root canal of all evil.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:01 PM on March 12, 2010 [14 favorites]


They must viscerally hate their children to lie to them and disadvantage them like that. I can't imagine having children and hating them so much that I demand they be deceived and deprived of information about the world.

It's not hate; it's love. They're doing their damndest to secure eternal bliss for their kids, as opposed to us heathens who are encouraging everyone towards suffering and pain for all time.

The problem, of course, is this is all fantasy. Reality gets killed in the crossfire. Does it count that they at least think they're doing the right thing? I'm asking, because I don't know.
posted by LordSludge at 2:02 PM on March 12, 2010


the fact remains that the United States is still today a Christian country founded on Christian values

"...the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion..."
posted by kirkaracha at 2:03 PM on March 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


Does it count that they at least think they're doing the right thing?

The road to Hell is paved with... well, nothing, actually. Nobody in Hell was willing to pay taxes, so there wasn't any money to pave it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:04 PM on March 12, 2010 [24 favorites]


I has a shame.

-Texan
posted by Malice at 2:07 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Right. Time to mess with Texas just a little bit.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:11 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Your textbook publisher aside, this effect is so widely acknowledged that even Fox News is willing to concede it.

Don't know what that really implies, but I've yet to see a national edition of a textbook named that uses TX standards. There are several levels of customization that we do. The A-level customization is for California, Texas, and Florida. These three states are called "state-adoption" states and places like NY, IL, & PA are considered "open territory" because textbooks can be sold at the school-level rather than the state level. It's a lot easier to get a chunk of money from a state adoption than it is from 700 school visits, so that's why CA & TX are prioritized over NY. For CA, TX, & FL, we (usually) customize everything, really build the program around their standards (bc you can't get adopted anyway unless your product is 100% compliant with the standards). For B-level states like NC, OR, CO, etc. we might insert some standards correlation materials into the teacher edition and also provide a website that shows the correlation of specific lessons to individual standards breakouts.

Seems like it's a lot easier for a journalist—even one at FOX News—just to trot out this old OMG line than to do the actual research.
posted by mattbucher at 2:11 PM on March 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


One by one, he said, his questions were answered by pastors and in Bible studies. The conversion took four months. Over the next year, he began taking seminars on creationism and biblical principles. He is now a young earth creationist, meaning that he believes God created Earth between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago.

Oooh! I hope he does geology in school next. That will be fun.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:13 PM on March 12, 2010


Texas is an idiot.

-
posted by General Tonic at 2:13 PM on March 12, 2010


"Some things he read in the Bible didn't make sense with what he was learning in dental school, he said."

I would love to know what those are.

Knowledge is the root canal of all evil.


The LORD is my dentist, I shall not want. He maketh me floss between molars, he asketh me to rinse with quiet waters, he restoreth my enamel. Even though I walk through the cavity of the shadow of decay, I will fear no chocolate, for you are with me; your mirrored thing and that scary electric-toothbrush-thing, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my teeth with disgusting bubblegum-flavored toothpaste; my spit overflows. Surely dentures and wisdom teeth will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the office of the LORD forever, reading Highlights magazines.
posted by sallybrown at 2:17 PM on March 12, 2010 [22 favorites]


Sotonohito, maybe we could have something like this but unofficial. Those pseudo private get togethers like Congressional prayer breakfasts could begin with an invocation to Cthulhu or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The president could be sworn in with his hand on the Necronomicon. Imagine Tim Gunn, looking doubtfully at the Pope's vestments, and questioning his taste level. Then the twist when a previously discarded faith is brought back to help a former competitor with a challenge. Hell, I'd watch.
posted by Tashtego at 2:18 PM on March 12, 2010


This is the takeover of the movement by religous nut jobs. This is like PETA or ELF being blamed for all people who self identify as liberals.

I gotta ask -- are you saying the religious/moralist contingent of the political right is essentially a wacky fringe who are able to command an amount of attention belies their actual puny size?

Because I thought they were actually doing things like running the school board of a state the size of Texas.
posted by contessa at 2:19 PM on March 12, 2010 [17 favorites]


Government regulating education standards and curriculum is always a disaster.
posted by yoyoceramic at 2:20 PM on March 12, 2010


Wouldn't it be interesting if we never had separation of church and state in America and rabid fundies had to tithe to a liberal, mainline protestant church like the Episcopal Church?

Good point. Back in the "good old days" you could either be Congregationalist (Massachusetts) or Episcopalian (most other states). Ironically, evangelical Protestant churches like the Baptists, who are all about putting religion into government now, were early advocates for separating church and state because they were harassed or jailed.

Founding Faith: How Our Founding Fathers Forged a Radical New Approach to Religious Liberty is an excellent book on the topic.

managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century

Ahem. Excuse me, but Thomas Jefferson wrote the motherfucking Declaration of Independence.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:20 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Right. Time to mess with Texas just a little bit.

You like to litter? Litterers belong in the same circle of hell as child molesters and people who talk at the theater.
posted by kmz at 2:20 PM on March 12, 2010


All I want to know: "is our children learning."
posted by ericb at 2:21 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Excuse me, but Thomas Jefferson wrote the motherfucking Declaration of Independence.

Uh, no. It was actually composed by Jesus. Duh. Jefferson just transcribed it, and got a lot of the words wrong to boot.
posted by aramaic at 2:25 PM on March 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


How Christian Were the Founders?
posted by ericb at 2:25 PM on March 12, 2010


How to prove your in Texas.
posted by pianomover at 2:26 PM on March 12, 2010


Government regulating education standards and curriculum is always a disaster.

Yup. Much better to leave it up to the invisible hand of the free market.
posted by EarBucket at 2:26 PM on March 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think we mentioned this last time it came up on MeFi, but this has a national relevance: Texas is the second-biggest of the states which select common textbooks and the biggest (California) is bankrupt enough that it won't be buying textbooks anytime soon. To bag the market, textbook publishers will start changing texts to reflect these standards, and everybody's kids will read them.
"Public education has always been a battleground between cultural forces; one reason that Texas’ school-board members find themselves at the very center of the battlefield is, not surprisingly, money. The state’s $22 billion education fund is among the largest educational endowments in the country. Texas uses some of that money to buy or distribute a staggering 48 million textbooks annually — which rather strongly inclines educational publishers to tailor their products to fit the standards dictated by the Lone Star State. California is the largest textbook market, but besides being bankrupt, it tends to be so specific about what kinds of information its students should learn that few other states follow its lead. Texas, on the other hand, was one of the first states to adopt statewide curriculum guidelines, back in 1998, and the guidelines it came up with (which are referred to as TEKS — pronounced 'teaks' — for Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) were clear, broad and inclusive enough that many other states used them as a model in devising their own. And while technology is changing things, textbooks — printed or online —are still the backbone of education."*
posted by ericb at 2:29 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


"This recent video report from ABC News includes an interview with Dr. [Don] McLeroy in which he defended his work to correct what he sees as the liberal bias of the experts who write American history textbooks."

Don McLeroy: "Someone has to stand up to experts!"
posted by ericb at 2:33 PM on March 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


How to prove your in Texas.

I don't even need to click the link before I facepalm.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:36 PM on March 12, 2010


Not only are these clueless idiots trying to undo Jefferson -- they're trying to undo the Supreme Court.

"Separation means separation, not something less. Jefferson's metaphor in describing the relation between Church and State speaks of a 'wall of separation,' not of a fine line easily overstepped. The public school is at once the symbol of our democracy and the most pervasive means for promoting our common destiny. In no activity of the State is it more vital to keep out divisive forces than in its schools, to avoid confusing, not to say fusing, what the Constitution sought to keep strictly apart .... If nowhere else, in the relation between Church and State, 'good fences make good neighbors.'" -- Justice Frankfurter, McCollum v. Board of Education (1947)

"The 'establishment of religion' clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable." -- Justice Black, Everson v. Board of Education (1947)
posted by blucevalo at 2:38 PM on March 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


Texas Secession. It's a great idea.

Do we have to wait for them to do this themselves? Is there some way the rest of us can vote them out of the union? &lt/kidding... kinda
posted by effwerd at 2:38 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Motherfucking Declaration of Independence

Here's our beef, motherfucker:

Obviously, everybody's basically born equal, and however the Hell we fucking got here, we have the motherfucking right to live free and party hard, motherfucker. Governments are like party planners, employed at will, and if the party sux, don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.

You overbilled us and didn't show us respect.

Now fuck off, George.

-Hamilton out
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:41 PM on March 12, 2010 [18 favorites]


lots of progressives here in Texas, more than you'd think. But our state Dem party is a mess. We're outgunned by the conservatives

The goddamn gerrymandering doesn't help either.
posted by scatter gather at 2:46 PM on March 12, 2010


...the United States is still today a Christian country founded on Christian values.

Benjamin Franklin:
“The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.” -- Benjamin Franklin Poor Richard's Almanack, 1758

“Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.”

“I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absenteed myself from Christian assemblies.”
John Adams:
“The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity.”

“But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed.” -- John Adams, letters to family and other leaders 1735-1826
Thomas Jefferson:
“Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burned, tortured, fined, and imprisoned, yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half of the world fools and the other half hypocrites.” -- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia

“The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.” -- Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823
James Madison:
“In no instance have . . . the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people.”
“Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.” -- James Madison, April 1, 1774
Abraham Lincoln:
“My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures have become clearer and stronger with advancing years, and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them.” -- Lincoln in a letter to Judge J.S. Wakefield, after the death of Willie Lincoln

“He was an avowed and open infidel, and sometimes bordered on Atheism...He went further against Christian beliefs and doctrines and principles than any man I ever heard.” -- John T. Stuart, Lincoln's first law partner *
"The founding fathers were a mixture of deists, Christians, and possibly one atheist. Assigning beliefs to the founding fathers collectively, however, is a difficult task. As a group, the founders stopped short of religious establishment because of their own diversity and experience with state sponsored religion in Europe. However, they broadly recognized a 'Creator' or 'Nature’s God' without ascribing to one particular religion. Their belief systems were products of ancient philosophy, the Enlightenment, and the Reformation. Their diverse beliefs, however, refute any exclusive claim to one religion or belief system." *
posted by ericb at 2:50 PM on March 12, 2010 [50 favorites]


While I will grant that the Texas Board of Education is populated with a bunch of idiots right now, and our schools are a mess, Thomas Jefferson hasn't been cut out of the curriculum. He's still going to be well covered in grades 5 & 8 social studies and high school government classes. They aren't exactly striking his name from the record and making him someone who must never be discussed.

And I wouldn't exactly believe anything from FOX News (or any news organization that can't be bothered to do a little research).

Also, this is the curriculum, not the textbooks. The textbook argument doesn't start until next year, and we have an election between then and now. It's entirely possible some of these idiots will not be sitting on the board much longer, because as much as everyone likes to think all Texans are stupid NeoCon Christians, we are all getting a little sick of our school board members.

And now you can all get back to your Texas hatefest.
posted by Orb at 2:51 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Apparently, the Texas Freedom Network has been liveblogging the hearings. Some excerpts here.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:55 PM on March 12, 2010


Thanks to EmpressCallipygos, mattbucher, Peter Petridish and 23skidoo for giving me a ray of hope that this won't necessarily lead to warped education in the rest of the country.

Although according to ericb's link, the New York Times still thinks that Texas does have a strong influence on the nation's standards.

I'm not sure what to think here.
posted by marsha56 at 2:58 PM on March 12, 2010


I'm not sure what to think here.

An open mind is just an invitation to ill winds. Luckily, we here at the Board of EducationIndoctrination have a remedy for what ails you. Step this way, and let us put your mind at ease...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:08 PM on March 12, 2010


MexicanYenta > This is why, although I've lived in Texas for 18 years, I do not, and never will, consider myself a Texan. It's certainly not the only reason, though. Texas supplies a neverending cornucopia of reasons.

The Wet Spots
NSFW have a great song about this: Texas AnnieNSFW, MySpace (4th on the list)
Chorus
'cuz you can't buy a dildo in Texas
We don't touch ourselves down there round here, ya' hear?
And it says so in the Bible that a vibe'll leave you liable
For a prison term of twenty-seven years
posted by Decimask at 3:38 PM on March 12, 2010


Texas Secession. It's a great idea.

We joke about it, but maybe it would be best for America if that free-loading state were to leave.



From the 45% of the state who voted for Obama, screw you.

Quit your pointless bitching and stereotyping. Instead, help us fight against lunacy no matter where it appears.
posted by chrisamiller at 3:42 PM on March 12, 2010 [12 favorites]


They're also accepting public comment before final adoption. Wouldn't it be fun to put together MeFi threads for each offensive curriculum standard and submit them as public comment?

But hey, if all you want to do is LOLTXASS, then I totally understand if you're not interested in actually doing anything productive with your outrage.
posted by greekphilosophy at 3:49 PM on March 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


the first legal settlement in the US was a commercial enterprise, not a settlement of religious pilgrims.

Yep.

Jamestown Settlement (1607) -- funded by the London Company (a joint stock company

Plymouth Colony (1620) -- also funded by the London Company. The Mayflower carried a total of 102 passengers. Only 37 were members of the separatist Leiden congregation (aka English Separtists, "Saints") who had bought passage on the Mayflower.* Others were planters and others recruited by the merchants to found Plimouth Plantation.
posted by ericb at 3:52 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


LOL @ The idea that textbooks are not influenced by left wing propaganda in their current form.
posted by GrooveJedi at 3:54 PM on March 12, 2010


America, in their view, should be led by the anointed few, those whose material wealth and success are proof of their status as the divinely chosen leaders of humanity.

That's basically the same doctrine held by British loyalists during the revolution.


This is why I think we should stop refering to these people as "conservatives" and start calling them "Tories".
posted by heathkit at 3:55 PM on March 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


LOL @ The idea that textbooks are not influenced by left wing propaganda in their current form.

Can you provide any cites or examples, please?
posted by ericb at 4:00 PM on March 12, 2010


LOL @ The idea that textbooks are not influenced by left wing propaganda in their current form.

Of course they are. We all know that Texas - and the entire rest of the country - has been run by left wing liberals for the last 2009 years. We only just learned the real truth this year when it was revealed to Rush in a drug-hazed divine vision. At least that's what I read in Texas history book.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:01 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


LOL @ The idea that textbooks are not influenced by left wing propaganda in their current form.

Can you provide any cites or examples, please?


Evolution: Hello-ooo! Also Fermat's Last Theorem. Totally bogus.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:03 PM on March 12, 2010


Fermat's Last Theorem

To be fair, Fermat was a logical mathematician (ie a "math expert"), so he is really the last person you should be trusting when it comes to math. Indeed, in general, the best people to trust in regards to math are faith based mathematicians.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:14 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is so very upsetting. I'm not even sure what my recourse is, other than homeschooling my kids. We just moved so we could be in a better school district... but we're still in Texas. What's wrong with just telling the truth to kids, without putting ANY political slant on it?
posted by ebee at 4:28 PM on March 12, 2010


LOL @ The idea that textbooks are not influenced by left wing propaganda in their current form.
posted by GrooveJedi at 3:54 PM on March 12 [+] [!]


Troll, and not even a very good one.

Back to the discussion at hand, as much as we like to laugh about stupid decisions made by people to offer deliberately skewed historical education, this lack of historical education will wreak havoc when future political generations have even more highly distorted, partisan views of formerly non-partisan facets of the government, eg the constitution, the bill of rights, and the rule of law. We're seeing the beginnings of it right now, cf the census, a relatively uncontroversial aspect of the government in effect since 1790 that according to some should now be opposed at all costs because it somehow magically steals votes from a political party.
posted by Ndwright at 4:34 PM on March 12, 2010


If i can expound on faith based math for a moment, it is a fairly well known fact that Jesus was three people at once - the father, the son and the holy ghost.

Ergo, 1 = 3

So, the question because is 2 is actually 1+1 aka 3+3, so 2=6.

3 then is equal to 9.

So, if we go back to our original 1 = 3 formula, if 1=3 and 3=9, then 1=9.

Ultimately, you recognize that this means 1 (Jesus) is equal to all numbers that are multiples of 3. Since all other numbers contain less than the full value of Jesus, they are not necessary. Furthermore, since 1 is equal to all numbers, its really the only number you need.

The math section of my faith based textbook, thus, only includes 1 (Jesus) and 0 (Satan). You might argue that this is putting Jesus on the same level as Satan, but (of course) 1>0, so we've now mathematically proven that Jesus is greater than Satan.

Since we don't want to use Satan's number, all binary code in my faith based system is replace with uninary code. To whit, 1... 11... 111... 1111....

Yes, its cumbersome, but if God wanted math to be easy he'd have let girls do it.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:44 PM on March 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


There's another great harm here, and that is misrepresentation and devaluation of Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin, William Blackstone, and many others. These guys actually laid the foundation for the Age of Reason, and from that, the modern American democracy. They are nowhere the direct ancestor to it that Thomas Jefferson is, but these theologians created the paradigm of reason, civil versus religious society, and law that we still use today. However, they're not being promoted in these school books because of their ideas; in fact, I would be surprised to see how much any of the members have read that works of these guys. They're being promoted because they're a banner, they're "Christian" founders of America. If these guys busted open their history of America and of European Christian society, they would find that the Protestant thinker's greatest fear was not a secular government but Caesaropapism. You might want to create a Theocracy, but it usually ends up with the worship and ordination of the State, rather than the State being bent to religious ends. The Roman Catholics found this out during the Counter-Reformation too; by attempting to create the temporal authority of the Church, they gave people a rewarding reason to oppose both temporal and spiritual jurisdiction. Christianity has never been entirely comfortable about existing in a State religion situation, and many of those listed remembered that. By shoehorning them into "See, Christianity is the foundation" totally negates the intellectual exploration Aquinas, Calvin, and Blackstone engaged in.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 4:50 PM on March 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


Quit your pointless bitching and stereotyping. Instead, help us fight against lunacy no matter where it appears.

Referendums are a pretty popular way for the public to have a voice these days — works for taking rights away from gays and lesbians, anyway.

Perhaps you could help lead the 45% in Texas who voted for Obama to support a referendum to impeach your governor for promoting secession from the United States — and that's the least of it.

Even if there aren't enough votes for it to work, 45% of the public calling for a leader's impeachment would be enough to get your voices heard even by our conservative mainstream media.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:27 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Dr. McLeroy, a dentist by training, pushed through a change to the teaching of the civil rights movement to ensure that students study the violent philosophy of the Black Panthers in addition to the nonviolent approach of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I am actually in support of this but not for the same reasons Dr. Leroy McLeroy is.

"Hey kids, non-violence was really critical to the civil rights movement, but it was also necessary to threaten old conservative white people with violence!"
posted by fuq at 5:27 PM on March 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: We hate TEXAS
posted by Senator at 5:29 PM on March 12, 2010


I live in Texas there are lots of liberals that live here and find all this disgusting. Many of you that live in liberal enclaves have no idea the ignorance and conservative dogma we stare down everyday. Someone I work with that describes Obama as "Your President," with a sneer, everytime he sees me. I want to punch him. I am thoroughly disgusted and ashamed of our state school board. And while there are 45% democrats here, the 55% republicans here are the crazy rightest Republicans you will ever meet. We're talking John Birchers, Ron Paulites, Beck is the second coming rightists. So when a sensible central Democrat loses by a few hundred votes statewide, he doesn't lose to a center right republican like would happen in the North East, no, he loses to people that talk about secession and putting express lanes in death row. So don't condemn all of Texas for the few hundred assholes that put an even fewer idiots in power. We have a gay democrat sheriff in charge of Dallas, a lesbian mayor of Houston one of the largest cities in the nation. In a few years when the hispanic population starts becoming politically motivated the old scared white man contigent will fade angrily away. We're already a majority minority state, it's only a matter of time before we become a reliable democrat vote, much like California flipped from reliably Republican in the 70's to Democrat in the 80's. Gallup polling themselves puts Texas in the swing column for the next Presidential election.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 5:55 PM on March 12, 2010 [13 favorites]


ExitPursuedByBear: Jeffersonian ideas form the backbone of half the ideas these people spew and claim to hold as their own, whether they realize it or not. He was way off into liberty, self-reliance, hard work and limited government, against public debt, etc. The Tea Party people echo his ideas constantly. This is nuts.
posted by raysmj at 6:10 PM on March 12, 2010


You might want to create a Theocracy, but it usually ends up with the worship and ordination of the State

Of course the instigators of all this nonsense pretty much do that already.
posted by furiousthought at 6:40 PM on March 12, 2010


It's bad enough that I accidentally had my Bless Its Pointed Little Head LP signed by Papa John Creach, but this is just gonna fuck its value right through the floor.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:53 PM on March 12, 2010


Texas Secession. It's a great idea

Oh Lawksy-a-mercy! You think Texas is a source of heartburn now? Imagine Texas as a sovereign country sharing our border. They would be a thorn in our side every minute of every day. How long would it be before they were at war with Mexico?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:54 PM on March 12, 2010


Don McLeroy: The Creationist in Charge of Education in Texas

sorry if this was already posted
posted by Sailormom at 9:18 PM on March 12, 2010


This is pretty awful, but fortunately, Don McLeroy (and several of his ilk, I believe) were defeated in their primaries by moderate candidates a few weeks ago. They still hold office until January, but at least they will be replaced no matter what.

Between that and the possiblitiy that Republican donors will support Democratic Candidate Bill White giving him a pretty decent chance at the governorship in November, it seems like Republicans in Texas are starting to come to their senses.

That said, Blazecock: I'm not particularly sure why you seems to hate Texas so much that you keep dropping into threads and lying about Texas being "freeloaders" or whatever, but as a progressive in Texas, you're not doing us any favors spreading lies and ignorance.
posted by grandsham at 10:15 PM on March 12, 2010


Metafilter: We hate TEXAS

The State Board of Education isn't TEXAS.
posted by blucevalo at 10:16 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I grew up in Texas until I was almost 16, and my teachers, at least, were fearless and excellent. There are a lot of liberals there, who get shut out by the Republicans in any way possible.

Please, in the future, think of Texas less as a secession candidate or something to nuke from orbit, and more as a great state under hostile occupation.

Thank you.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:42 PM on March 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


For all the inanity about booting Jefferson, it's rather amusing that the great defenders of religion and free enterprise left in Hobbes and Voltaire. One assumes they never actually bothered to do the reading.

"Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd and ...bloody religion that has ever infected the world." -- Voltaire

"Corporations, which are as it were, lesser commonwealths in the bowels of a greater, like worms in the entrails of a natural man." -- Thomas Hobbes
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:09 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Benjamin Franklin:

“...”

John Adams:

“...”
Thomas Jefferson:

“...”

James Madison:

“...”

Abraham Lincoln:

“...”


Which is why today's conservatives no longer look to the founding fathers and, instead, worship the only President who ever, actually mattered.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:10 AM on March 13, 2010


What I don't understand is where these nuts figure their future lies. After they've successfully brainwashed students with lies and unscientific nonsense of the dumbest sort, what next? How are their children going to make a living? How is the state going to compete in the market? What possible good can come of all this?

Maybe they figure Jeebus will swoop down and reclaim them all before the problems they cause come to full fruition.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:23 AM on March 13, 2010


No more MD Anderson Cancer Center, Harry Ransom Center, good BBQ, good country music, Rice and UT, NASA mission control, and more tech companies than you can shake a stick at, including major campuses for your beloved Apple.

Those things would still exist, they would just be in a different country. We still get Tacos from Mexico; Tech companies have campuses in Canada, and China. And we get all the scientific benefit of CERN without paying for it. There's also a NASA sites in Australia

Evolution: Hello-ooo! Also Fermat's Last Theorem. Totally bogus.

It's never been proven!*

*actually it has
posted by delmoi at 9:02 AM on March 13, 2010


The Rapture cannot come soon enough. Surely then all these gitfaces will be beamed off to their everlasting reward, and the rest of us can get on with our lives, free of their ridiculous bullshit.
posted by elizardbits at 9:05 AM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm an atheist, but I pray for the rapture every damn day.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:33 PM on March 13, 2010


The rapture came 1900 years ago. The shit left over is stuck here.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:00 PM on March 13, 2010


Noooooooo!
posted by five fresh fish at 5:30 PM on March 13, 2010


It seems like this won't be an issue for very long. The Common Core Standards linked above, and Texas' waning influence on textbook publishers make this news not nearly as scary.
posted by hue at 11:50 AM on March 14, 2010



Can you provide any cites or examples, please?


Global Warming, for one.
posted by GrooveJedi at 4:07 PM on March 16, 2010


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