Sad day for education

Texas Board of Education adopts textbooks that support a conservative Christian agenda.

1. The Board removed Thomas Jefferson from the Texas curriculum’s world history standards on Enlightenment thinking, “replacing him with religious right icon John Calvin.”

2. “Teachers in Texas will be required to cover the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation’s Founding Fathers, but not highlight the philosophical rationale for the separation of church and state.”

3. Curriculum standards also will describe the U.S. government as a “constitutional republic,” rather than “democratic,” and students will be required to study the decline in value of the U.S. dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard.

4. Conservatives beat back multiple attempts to include hip-hop as an example of a significant cultural movement.

5. The Board refused to require that “students learn that the Constitution prevents the U.S. government from promoting one religion over all others.”

6. “Other changes seem aimed at tamping down criticism of the right. Conservatives passed one amendment, for instance, requiring that the history of McCarthyism include ‘how the later release of the Venona papers confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government.’ The Venona papers were transcripts of some 3,000 communications between the Soviet Union and its agents in the United States.”

7. “They also included a plank to ensure that students learn about ‘the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.'” The Dallas Morning News noted that “high school students will learn about leading conservative groups from the 1980s and 1990s – but not about liberal or minority rights groups.”

8. “Board member Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, objected to a standard for a high school sociology course that addressed the difference between sex and gender. It was eliminated in a 9-to-6 vote. She worried that a discussion of that issue would lead students into the world of ‘transvestites, transsexuals and who knows what else.'”

9. “Members voted to polish up references to the American ‘free enterprise’ economic system and removed most mentions of ‘capitalism,’ a word that board member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, said has a negative connotation.”

10.”Board members also rejected requiring history teachers and textbooks to provide coverage on the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy and new Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, while the late President Ronald Reagan was elevated to more prominent coverage.”

Because of it’s buying power, Texas dominates textbooks. So if a state cannot afford or does not ask for a specific edition, like California and Florida do, they will end up getting the Texas edition of a textbook.

Because educational publishing is a for profit private business. Much like testing.

Texas has overlooked one radical group.

School librarians.

The Texas board of ed does NOT control collection development in school libraries. And librarians can be a pretty radical bunch, being against censorship and all. You better believe the librarians are on this, updating their purchase lists and making sure what the textbooks attempt to suppress is widely available and advertised in the classrooms. They’ll also collaborate with teachers to make sure education is….fair and balanced.

48 of 50 states adopt national education standards. Texas and Alaska so far refuse. (Big surprise.)

Now I’ve looked at the national standards and I’m not impressed. California has had state standards for years. I’m familiar with the state standards. They’re rigorous. So are the national standards but not in a good way. Why? Because they reflect the weaknesses of No Child Left Behind. English Language Learners and Special Education students are still being held to the same standards as other students. No amount of “extra help” is going to help ELL students stay at grade level. Especially if they not only don’t speak English but perhaps their participation in school is the first experience they have had attending any sort of school. I’m not kidding. I’ve seen the influx of all sorts of immigrants over my 30 years of teaching. I’ve seen children from Viet Nam who didn’t know what a toilet was or how to use it. Yes, literally. Teachers had to go into the bathroom and show them how to use a toilet. I have no idea what is going on with the Somali children, but I know for some of them this is their first experience in school. So what do you do with a third grader who doesn’t speak English and has never attended school. Exactly how much extra instruction in either English or Somali will it take for that child to test at the third grade level by April? Special Ed? Well, they’re designated Special Ed for a reason. They have learning disabilities. If they were at grade level THEY WOULDN’T BE IN SPECIAL ED! Duh.

Once more politicians are making decisions that are better left to teachers. Because what do we know? I only have a masters in education, a masters in library and information science, 30 years of experience and am National Board Certified.

Do I think there should be national standards? Yes.
Do I think it should be these national standards? No.

Now why are standardized national core standards so important? If you don’t control the standards, you can’t control the textbooks. Because adopted textbooks have to meet the standards.

This recent textbook adoption standard taken by Texas does NOT meet the national core standards.

Good luck with that Texas. How long will Pluto still be a planet in your state?

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2 Responses to Sad day for education

  1. The Center Square says:

    While I disagree with the Texas Board of Education’s decision, it is a decision which rests on a wholly legitimate process. The good people of Texas elect these officials; the good people of Texas have spoken. If there is finger-pointing to be done by those who disagree with this action, it should be aimed at the voters, not at those who undertake the will of the voters.

    That’s my opinion, anyway. Thanks for sharing yours.

    • mlaiuppa says:

      True.

      But one must wonder if the voters were thoroughly informed of this particular board member’s agenda when they voted for him.

      He had been voted out and is determined to carve as much of his opinion/influence in stone as he can before his term is up at the end of the year.

      I certainly hope the next board does what they can to revisit and correct the damage.

      Just because the process of rewriting history is legal doesn’t make it right to use textbooks as propaganda tools to indoctrinate a generation toward a political agenda. See “Mein Kampf”.

      Since neither Texas nor Alaska have signed on to the national core standards and are unlikely to, those states can stand as bastions of ignorance. The rest of the country will have textbooks aligned to the national core standards. Hopefully those children will grow up to be free thinkers and be able to use higher order cognitive skills to sift the chaff from the dross.

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