Mar 13, 2010

Jefferson Doesn't Make the Cut

Texas Board of Education cuts Thomas Jefferson out of its textbooks.

The Texas Board of Education has been meeting this week to revise its social studies curriculum. During the past three days, “the board’s far-right faction wielded their power to shape lessons on the civil rights movement, the U.S. free enterprise system and hundreds of other topics”

The board, whose members are elected, has influence beyond Texas because the state is one of the largest buyers of textbooks. So, they are the largest customer - and what they want dictates what's in and what's out. Luckily, in the digital age, their influence has diminished as technological advances have made it possible for publishers to tailor books to individual states.

Lately, board members have been locked in an ideological battle between Darwin’s theory of evolution and whether the Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles, or not. There are a handful of Democrats and moderate Republicans who have fought to preserve the teaching of Darwinism and the separation of church and state.

Since January, Republicans on the board have passed more than 100 amendments to the 120-page curriculum standards affecting history, sociology and economics courses from elementary to high school. The standards were proposed by a panel of teachers. Such as:
  • Avoid exposing students to “transvestites, transsexuals and who knows what else,” the Board struck the curriculum’s reference to “sex and gender as social constructs.”
  • The Board refused to require that “students learn that the Constitution prevents the U.S. government from promoting one religion over all others.”
  • They struck the word “democratic” from the description of the U.S. government, instead terming it a “constitutional republic.” (Which is, technically more accurate)
Following repeated failed attempts to add figures in Hispanic history to the textbooks, one board member, Mary Helen Berlanga, stormed "out of the meeting late Thursday night, saying, 'They can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist.'"

Sure they can, Mary - they're in there re-writing history and molding stoopid for the next generation. As they say, "The winners get to write the history books." So you better get back in there.

And if they take Jefferson out, who wrote the Declaration? We didn't have a third president, we just skipped to four? How are they going to explain the Louisiana Purchase? Who sent Louis and Clark on their Excellent Adventure? Who's this dude on the nickel? Are they going to lobby to have Jefferson's face sandblasted off Mt. Rushmore?

The stoopidity of these people exceeds my ability to understand. It'd be funny if it were just one district in Texas, people can move. Vote with your feet. But because this has ramifications across the nation - I'm concerned, and I hope you are too.

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