The State Board of Education's proposed hard right makeover of social studies and history textbooks was just approved (for high school students) by a 9-5 vote by the State Board of Education. The debate that's earned national and global attention will get even more now.
Political and educational activists formed battle lines over what Texas children will learn about history, and as the final debates raged on in Austin, we scoured the news wires and the Texas Freedom Network live blogs. What have we learned? When it comes to designing social studies standards in Texas, facts are just the jumping-off point.
5. Thomas Jefferson is worthy of our time.
Jefferson was unceremoniously tossed out on his Declaration-of-Independence-writing, University-of-Virginia-founding, Louisiana-purchasing presidential posterior back in March when the board voted to exclude him from a list of required Enlightenment thinkers in lieu of Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin.
With Ken Mercer motioning to put Jefferson and James Madison back on the list — Jefferson makes it, James Madison does not. Madison, next time you want kids to remember you in school, you'll have to do more than be the nation's fourth president and author the bulk of the Constitution, you bottom feeder.
4. History is for dead people (and socialists are crappy Americans).
In the 1960s, Dolores Huerta was a key figure in the formulation of labor rights and Chicano civil rights alongside Cesar Chavez, founding the United Farm Workers of America. But in January the Board voted her removed from the list of good citizens in third-grade curriculum because, as several voiced, she is now a member of the Democratic Socialists of America Party, and socialists can't possibly be good citizens. (Under this standard, the board should also remove Jane Addams, W.E.B. DuBois, Eugene Debs, Ernest Hemingway, Hellen Keller, and Upton Sinclair from any curriculum.)
Even more strangely, David Bradley says people in history books should be dead. You know, because why would you want to learn about someone who is alive? I mean, if Martin Luther King Jr. was alive today, we wouldn't want to learn about him, would we? Old people say the darndest things!
Strangely Bradley's "Dead People Only" mantra didn't seem to be an issue for adding Barack Obama, Phyllis Schlafly, Ralph Reed, or Newt Gingrich to various social studies standards.
3. Be afraid of the United Nations ... be very afraid.
You guys, did you know the sovereignty of the United States is under attack? Neither did we ... but apparently it is, by those dastardly doers at the United Nations! See, when your elected government signs and ratifies treaties with other governments and transgovernmental organizations, they get to try to make you fulfill the terms of the treaty. Like how we can't torture people because we promised not to in exchange for other people not torturing Americans?
Don't you see how that gives away American rights? No? Luckily, Don McElroy is requiring schoolchildren to tell us exactly how the United Nations tries to "undermine" our sovereignty with treaties.
2. The Confederacy was awesome (and not even about slavery, you guys).
Remove references to Texas soldiers and battles as if they were war heroes? No way. Is Jefferson Davis' inauguration speech as important to history as Abraham Lincoln's? Sure, if you like disingenuous attempts to justify the secession (and apparently, the board does). And now, according to the Texas State Board of Education, the reasons behind the Civil War were "sectionalism, states' rights and slavery," in that order.
It looks like Virginia isn't the only one trying to rewrite Confederate history.
1. (Some) Republicans can't resist being jerks about Obama's middle name.
Responding to a motion to include the name of the first African American president instead of only being required to mention his election, David Bradley motioned that the board include his full name, Barack Hussein Obama be used instead. Rather than remind everyone the middle name of Hussein proves that Obama is a socialist terrorist Kenyan, Bradley innocently put forth that it was along the same lines as the board referring to past presidents by their full names. Except that the conservative board had to note that the board has always used whatever the President prefers.
"The intent behind what you're doing, I think, is pretty obvious," responded moderate Republican Bob Craig. Democrat Mary Helen Berlanga added, "I’m getting pretty fed up with the behavior, and trying to be derogatory ... You’re grinning and making fun, and it’s really upsetting ... We’re talking about something serious: The first African-American president of the United States.”
Bradley called the objectors whiners, and withdrew the motion.