Saturday, May 22, 2010
Reading, Writing and Radical Conservativism...
Yesterday the Texas State Board of Education adopted a statewide social studies and history curriculum that amends or waters down the teaching of the civil rights movement and religious freedoms, among other things, and calls for the addition of many conservative issues, such as the Moral Majority, the National Rifle Association and the Republican surge of the mid-1990s.
The new standards were adopted after two 9-5 votes along party lines, and they now will be taught to some 4.8 million students over the next decade. But even more disturbing is the fact that also will be used by textbook publishers who often develop materials for other states based on guidelines approved in Texas.
Any reference to "slave trade" in early American history will be replaced by the words "American Triangular Trade," a move that clearly minimizes slavery's impact on our nation. And the standards water down the rationale for the separation of church and state, arguing that the words were not in the Constitution. These standards also required students to evaluate efforts by global organizations such as the United Nations to undermine US sovereignty, using the always-popular conservative argument that those who disagree with the right are un-American.
Maybe I'm naive, but we're now letting the political beliefs of some determine the education of our children? Make no mistake, many Republican school board members are unapologetically proud of what they've accomplished. Said board member David Bradley:
"We took our licks, we got outvoted," he said referring to the debate from 10 years earlier. "Now it's 10-5 in the other direction ... we're an elected body, this is a political process. Outside that, go find yourself a benevolent dictator."
Benevolent dictator? Aren't we supposed to concentrate on teaching children?
News like this makes me scared for the future. Between constitutional bans on gay marriage and gay adoption in many states to Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's recent decision not to mandate protection from discrimination in cases of sexual orientation, from the Arizona immigration laws to the growing power of the Tea Party movement, I really don't like the direction in which our country is moving. And while I recognize this is only my opinion, when we start mandating what our children learn in school based on political philosophy, we're headed down a slippery slope that fear won't end here.