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Texas Schools First to De-emphasise Accuracy, Instill “Christian Principles”

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The Texas Board of Education has allowed for, and has advanced plans for a massive restructuring of school books for that state that would place less emphasis on historical truth and much more emphasis on the role of Christianity in our nation’s founding. When queried about the proposed changes, United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan acknowledged that the changes were not being implemented by historians, rather, by politicians. What is the extent of the rewriting process? The Board is eliminating Edward Kennedy, Thomas Jefferson, and many other liberal figures from the state’s curriculum!

Conservatives make a claim that the changes are "overdue", and that the old, classical text-book content de-emphasized religion. They are advancing conservative ideology, even in instances where it conflicts with the labors of scholars who have consistently been objective and have striven for accuracy in the study of American History.

These conservatives have determined that the capture and enslavement of Negros prior to the civil war will be seen in a perception that makes it near-reasonable; it will be re-named, "The Atlantic triangular trade". The Atlantic triangular trade is a non-judgmental term that refers to trading during 17th to early 19th century. At that time ships carrying slaves, crops, and manufactured goods, traveled between West Africa, the Caribbean, and British North America, particularly New England. The slaves were considered to be part and parcel of the crop trade; they were fundamental to the growing of the crops in America. In addition, students will find considerably more emphasis on the problems associated with affirmative action.

The recent invasion of Iraq will be made to seem a noble thing. "Imperialism" will be changed to "Expansionism". "Expansionism",viewed as a positive attribute, will allow us to continue to invade and conquer other nations, to seize their national treasuries, to overthrow by military force their rulers, to install an Americanized form of government; in this capacity we ignore out own short-comings, our corruption, and our growing licentiousness.  This use of "expansionism" falls well into place with the notion of those who are changing textbooks, promoting  the new concept, “American exceptionalism", which sees the United States as far superior to all other nations, by virtue of her original ideals, and her struggle to achieve independence. As a superior entity we can clearly ignore the very principles on which the “exceptionalism” is based.


Thomas Jefferson we know was adamant in his belief in the separation of Church and State; Thomas Jefferson will be de-empathized to the point where he will be nearly unheard of. A new interpretation of the de-valuation of the Dollar, and the abandonment of the gold standard, these things completely out of touch with the views of leading economists, are to be implemented .

One Texas educator, Phillip VanFossen, head of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and a professor of social studies education at Purdue University, made the point that the new curriculum is driven by ideology, and that what bothers him is that important skills — debate and discussion, constructing arguments — are being lost.

We might construe his viewpoint as meaning that students are being taught to believe, without question, what they are told, rather than to think and form opinions, or to pursue conflicting ideas.

The Christian Science Monitor has declared that "It's more than Darwin that's being changed!"  "..many of the 48 million textbooks it (Texas Board of Education) buys per year, for 10 years, will represent a Republican partisan agenda and a new emphasis on Christian beliefs."

Many other changes, about 100, are also pending. For example the issue of how we view Islam is reviewed.

Professor VanFossen, quoted earlier in this article warns that, “Decisions that are made in Texas have a ripple effect across the country".

The damage is being done. It may be difficult or impossible to reverse. Separation of Church and State is important. Truth is important. In this day when Conservatives transcend  the law, ignore our constitution, go beyond all previous limits in accepting funding from profit motivated groups, we are seeing a decline in the very principles our founding fathers and the American Patriots fought for. We have entered a new era, a potentially ugly era, and thinking Americans should be vigilant not to allow the irrationality and vanity that precipitates these changes.

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About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • John:

    This is a grossly distorted interpretation of what is going on at the SBOE. While I agree that there are some issues to be concerned about, it’s naive to suggest that what is going on here is just installing bias in the curriculum.

    In fact, a good portion of this is the removal of an anti-American, multicultural and politically correct bias which has been imposed in the textbooks and curriculum by the SBOE over the years.

    As a historian I have watched the quality and accuracy of textbooks decline over the last two decades. The material I reviewed when I was on our textbook committee was often grossly distorted and inaccurate and omitted major events and figures for largely political reasons.

    You’re also dead wrong on many of the specifics here. Jefferson is absolutely not being removed from the textbooks or curriculum. A couple of references to him are being slightly changed or removed, but he still has multiple pages devoted to him as a founding father and as president.

    As for the “triangular trade” you are raising a red herring out of pure ignorance. That term has been in standard use by economic historians for decades, not because it minimizes the slave trade, but because it is an accurate description of the economic dynamic which the slave trade was part of. It is not a politicized change, it is just correct.

    As for the eradication of the term “imperialism” to describe the US, that’s another example of accuracy trumping politics. The argument that the US is imperialistic is fundamentally biased and not supported by fact. At best it is a gross generalization and at worst it is just a lie.

    The small changes requested by the Texas SBOE will have some effect, but they are teacups trying to empty the lake of politically correct historical revisionism.

    That said, I am also concerned about the possibility of the introduction of the “christian nation” myth into the curriculum and the textbooks, but at this point I don’t see that the current SBOE board is doing anywhere near as much harm to historical accuracy as their predecessors did in the opposite direction.

    Of course, the ideal solution would be to get rid of he SBOE entirely and let the free market rule, with school districts buying books individually to fit their particular preferences.


  • STM

    Nothing wrong with instilling Christian principles, especially as those principles were originally intended and still apply if anyone cares to read the New Testament of the Bible from cover to cover (possibly skipping revelations): unconditional love, compassion, concern for your fellow man/woman, non-judgment, treating your neighbour as you would want to be treated yourself, and – possibly most important – looking at your own flaws before you look for those in others.

    It’s the dogma of fundamentalist Christians that is an issue … the very literal interpretions, mainly contained in the Old Testament and which are not the words of Christ, that give no nod to the original intent of Christ’s very different message.

    He gave that message for one reason: the hypocrisy of those of those who thought that being a good Jew meant big tithes, sitting in the right spot in the synagogue, living life to the letter of the law no matter the cost to others, and currying favour with the rich, powerful and influential while the poor eked out a living and the very poor starved … and most good Jews are also aware of the wrongness of that hypocrisy.

    My favourite message of Christ relates to the sabbath and some of the very strict interpreations of old orthodox jewry: that the law was designed by God to benefit man, not by God to penalise man.

    We rail against othrodox muslims whose disgusting literal interpreations of the Koran result in death and destruction in the name of religion, when most muslims – in my experience, and I lived in a muslim country as a boy – are unbelievably hospitable, kind and loving people who want exactly what the rest of uis want – stability, peace, education for their children, a decent job, a nice standard of living and a roof over their heads.

    The sad truth is: fundamentalist Christians can be as bad as fundamentalist muslims and this is what we must always guard against.

    We must, as people living in true democracies where the people rule, niot the government, always separate church and state (even if, as in the UK where anglicanism is the state religion because absolutist 16th century Catholics actively sought to overturn the blossoming democracy of that nation, that is now simply an unofficial convention) … because nothing – nothing – mist be allowed to replace the rule of law that is the only thing that guaranteees ALL our freedoms.

    And that, dear readers, is my two bob’s worth.

    It’s the dogma

  • Doug Hunter

    As they say, one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. The writer seems most concerned that the changes reflect a more positive spin on America than he would favor (and the left wonders why it gets the anti-American label). As for affirmative action, it is state sponsored racism and a stain on any system it touches, why shouldn’t it be featured in a negative or at least balanced light?

    The only concerning issue raised would be that of the ‘christian’ nation. Nalle would be the expert on the facts as far as that is concerned.

  • John Lake

    Dave Nalle – I wasn’t aware of your background in History. We agree that the additional emphasis on “Christian Principles” is not in keeping with changes in our culture over the last generation. I however take exception to your willingness to allow “Free Market” writers to influence American Children, particularly if each school district will have allowance to pick and choose. In many rural areas, the children are already subjected to uncommon views; at least with uniformity in text-books, they have some capacity to deal with life, should they reach urban America.

  • John Lake

    I agree that God created a beautiful world and that he wants living things, humans included, to enjoy it, to experience life! As we mature, we find that our enjoyment of life is enhanced by following his rules, by heeding moral principals. I do feel that these principles might be well addressed in philosophy courses (even at the elementary level) and recalled sparingly in the remaining curriculum.

  • John Lake

    Doug Hunter:
    You suggest that I am anti-America? Nothing could be further from the truth!
    But I firmly believe in the principles of Truth, Justice, and the American Way.
    To distort historical truth for todays political gain is clearly wrong, and in fact, un-American.

  • Very good read John-kudos. That Texas-Taliban just never gives up.

    If I may be allowed to add my own two cents, a few “founding fathers'” quotes from my own research

    Thomas Paine, who said, “Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity.”

    Thomas Jefferson infamously said, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.”

    George Washington: Near the end of George Washington’s term on November, 4, 1796, the Treaty of Tripoli was written under his supervision. In Article 11 we read: “As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” In 1797 the Senate ratified the treaty with no public objections, despite it being published for all to read, and Washington’s successor John Adams signed it without reservation.

    Of Washington’s thousands of collected letters the name of Jesus Christ is not mentioned even once. In fact, when it was proposed that reference to Christ be inserted into the preamble of the Constitution, the vast majority of the founding fathers voted against it because that would infer that our forefathers meant to exclude protections of “…the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindu and Infidel of every denomination.”

  • It would be nice if they an independent board of historians review the changes. But, let’s not let facts get in the way of good political posturing, from either side of the aisle.

    Also, of note- this is their second attempt to water down learning and shove a particular point of view- which in itself is hilarious since they claim to be battling political correctness. Last time they attempted to throw science out in favor of creationist nonsense. Luckily cooler, and intelligent, heads prevailed. This time, not so much.

  • Doug Hunter

    “To distort historical truth for todays political gain is clearly wrong, and in fact, un-American.”

    Yes but liberals have been doing it, especially at the college level for years. I was sickened by the slant in a few of my required courses, sociology and diversity come immediately to mind. Parts of the liberal philosophy were pawned off as essentially scientific fact. Now I know two wrongs don’t make a right, but you see how frustrating it is when the shoe is on the other foot.

    I say what goes around comes around. I really hope this doesn’t spark a national standard though. That’s the last thing we need. A diversity of opinions and viewpoints isn’t necessarily a bad thing (unless of course is involves right wing views, right?).

  • Doug, just a question.

    Why didn’t you come to those courses with an open mind? Or are you saying your mind was made up from the very start?

  • John, you’re dealing with the law of unintended consequences here. The idea of the SBOE is exactly what you advocate for, to take control out of the hands of parents and teachers and school boards and centralize it. You’re all for that concept. The problem is that once you do that and it becomes politicized there is the possibility that people you don’t agree with will be the ones setting the agenda.

    That’s why it’s better to leave the decision making at a lower level where, believe it or not, better decisions are generally made than at the state level and where the decisions made lead to diversity and competition to produce the best textbooks, rather than having a single large state like Texas determining by committee what the textbooks for the whole nation should be like.

    It is your own desire to control this process which has led to the abuses you are troubled by.


  • Has anyone really seen recent high school textbooks on any subject whatever?

    They’re atrocious, filled with nothing but “facts.” Thinking is discouraged, memorization is.

    I can only be thankful for not having gone through this humiliating experience in the US.

  • Doug Hunter

    Thinking can’t be measured on a standardized test Roger, so that’s out.

  • Arch Conservative

    After years of assaulting our education system and poisoning students minds with their propaganda the left has the nerve get huffy over this?

  • All right thinking people know that we need a Federal Department of Information to deal with this sort of stuff. Then, the truth in its pristine purity will be known and falsehoods will be relegated to the dustbin.

    I liked the notion so much that I wrote a satirical article commending it. Alas, my praise did not go over well with the author of the proposal, but that’s life. We nevertheless had a civil discussion, and he has promised another Huffington Post article.


  • Doug Hunter

    “All right thinking people know that we need a Federal Department of Information to deal with this sort of stuff. Then, the truth in its pristine purity will be known and falsehoods will be relegated to the dustbin.”

    Why have a Department of Information when we already got Wikipedia?

  • Just reinstate the usage of the McGuffey reader and the King James Bible and the Christians will be happy. They can revel in their medieval dominance of American education while the rest of the world surpasses us commercially and technologically.

  • Doug, re # 16 — well, yes. But Wikipedia is biased and, unlike the proposed Federal Department of Information, sometimes seems to present divergent views. As we all know, that would not be the case with a Federal Department of Information.

    We need to be told what is true and what is not; otherwise, how can we hope to survive with our remaining sanity in this age of gross information overload?


    I shall now go to bed and read a comic book.

  • I hope you’re being facetious, DMl in fact, I know you is.

    All we need is to be presented with more than one POV. Let native intelligence take care of the rest.

  • And don’t you turn in yet before you respond lest I lose my sleep.

  • Well, here’s where state’s rights come into play. With choices come consequences. If the SBOE chooses to go down this path then institutions of higher learning in the remaining 49 states don’t have to accept TX students.

    And for those districts outside TX who rely on the cheap textbooks produced, there’s something called a supplement. I’m certain there’s a publishing house in the remainder who would relish the thought of publishing these supplements. Let’s introduce this as subject matter in high school. Afford high school students the opportunity to learn why TX SBOE chose to revamp their curriculum. And discuss the differences contained within the supplement. Let it be fuel for debates in high schools and PTOs across this land.

    I have to agree with Dan(Miller). If this Republic is to remain, then let’s have a Federal standard adopted in all 50 states. Come to think of it, perhaps kids in the South have a Constitutional issue here. Is Education being administered fairly and equitably among all the states? Is it even a Constitutional issue? Should it be?

    In the end, why am I even wasting my time? Nobody really gives a damn any more.

  • STM

    Silas: “Nobody really gives a damn any more”.

    Yes they do, old boy … everyone loves ya. It’s just the kind of direct democracy we experience here on BC sometimes can be really bloodt depressing when you sdee some of the extreme points of view.

  • Sorry, Stan, I’m coming to a point of view that all we’re doing here is jacking off.

  • Silas, you’re way too slow for my taste. I need instant connection and instant gratification, sorry, I’m been spoiled. So unless you come up with anything resembling a climax, I’m out.

  • The best climax is arrived upon when the path is slow and deliberate, Roger. It really is the key to the Universe.

    And thank you, Stan. You gave me a reason to smile.

  • I have to agree with Dan(Miller). If this Republic is to remain, then let’s have a Federal standard adopted in all 50 states.

    Silas, I think Dan was being sarcastic. At least I hope he was. The state-level centralization manifested in the SBOE is the root of the problem, so further centralizing on a federal level could only be worse.

    Plus the Texas SBOE essentially functions as a federal board on textbooks because Texas’ huge purchasing power causes all the publishers to follow their guidelines so all the states are stuck with whatever the SBOE decides.


  • Irene Wagner

    STM#2–Jesus said about the Tanakh, the Jewish Scriptures, when there was no other “Scriptures” to which he could be referring: “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”

    That is the blessing for a Christian who studies the Tanakh. The Book of Revelation (no “s”) says that about itself, also.

    Just pointing you in a blessed direction, fundy Christian to Roman Catholic (I think) Christian.

  • Irene Wagner

    Mr.Lake, thanks for giving us this article to talk about. The polarization makes me want to tear my hair out. Devout Christians and atheists and theists who weren’t Christians COLLABORATED in the early days and I wish to God we will be able to do it again.

  • Irene Wagner

    What about it Jet?

    “I do not believe that the Constitution was the offspring of inspiration, but I am as perfectly satisfied that the Union of the United States in its form and adoption is as much the work of a Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament.” Source: To Elias Boudinot on July 9, 1788. Letters of Benjamin Rush, L. H. Butterfield, ed., (Princeton, NJ: American Philosophical; Society, 1951), Vol. I, p. 475

    So whad’ya think, Jet? It’s looking like, from that quote, that Dr. Benjamin Rush, who signed the Declaration of Independence, believed Jesus was miraculous, and Thomas Paine (per your quote) believed Jesus was an abomination….and they got past their differences to collaborate for the cause of liberty.

    The Christian, Benjamin Rush recognized the talent of the atheist Thomas Paine, helped to get him sobered up, urged him to write the extremely influential pamphlet Common Sense, and came up with that punchy name for it.

  • I let the quotations stand or fall on their own merit. Just at Pat Roberson can twist any verse from the bible to make it say anything he wants, so can anyone.

    I however believe that the words our our founding fathers pretty much speak for themselves without my putting any kind of spin on them…

    wouldn’t you?

  • Ruvy

    I was re-reading the history of the Scopes trial in Tennessee 85 years ago, and was impressed by the way the distortion of the Hebrew Bible by its supposed believers has shaped a very false debate over this topic in the United States.

    I may write an article about it, a look back at America 85 years ago, into events in Dayton Tennessee, when a small town tried to get tourist income because other forms of income were drying up….

  • Ruvy

    Irene, regarding your comment above, I’ve suggested before, and repeat my suggestion, that the United States got a blessing from G-d, the biggest sign of which was the victory at New Orleans in Jan. 1815, after it had already lost the War of 1812. This blessing was canceled, IMHO, and the sign of the cancellation was the hurricane Katrina, which effective did in the city that General Andrew Jackson saved 190 years earlier.

    The period 190 years is not insignificant. It was the actual period of time of Hebrew “sojourning” in Egypt. In other words, the period of “sojourning” in Egyptian exile before the partial redemption and granting of the Torah at Horev matches the amount of time that American Jews should have been “sojourning” in the modern “Egypt” – America. And that Full Redemption – which will be modeled after the Exodus from Egypt over 33 centuries ago – is at hand.

  • Clavos

    They can revel in their medieval dominance of American education while the rest of the world surpasses us commercially and technologically

    …Which is already happening under the abomination that is our educational system today.

  • I do agree with Nalle that Dan was being sarcastic.

  • “even in instances where it conflicts with the labors of scholars who have consistently been objective”

    Sorry, but that line ended any serious consideration of this article! The term “objective scholar” in this country is an oxymoron.

  • STM

    Irene @27 … Christ also made a point that his message was very different to what Jews had come to expect, especially in terms of the dogma.

    It’s a message of love, not a message of puinushment.

    The is the fundamental – there’s that word again – difference between jewry of that era and the message of Christ.

    Thankkfully, most jews were – and always have been – also aware of the hypocrisy and have railed against it in their own way, even if some of the religious dogma is important to them simply as part of the tradition of being Jewish.

    I prefer to believe that God really is love; and that love makes the world goes round.

    However, if someone decides that my love should be returned with a bullet, I’m also not abverse to tearing them a new arsehole.

  • “if someone decides that my love should be returned with a bullet, I’m also not abverse to tearing them a new arsehole.”

    You mean you’re not going to turn the other cheek (pun intended)?

  • STM

    Butback tothe subject: I find it bizarre that in the US, where church and state are separate, is less tolerant of non-Christian beliefs than a place like the UK, which does have Christianity as a state religion (ostensibly to stop absolutist Catholic takeover of a blossoming democracy) but which is now just part of that country’s quaint and eccentric tradition.

    It always used to male me laugh when Americans would lecture me about separation of church of state (and my country is one of the most religiously tolerant places I’ve ever been) and then I’d pick up a US coin or a buck note and see: “In God we Trust” writ large.

    Something’s not right there, dudes.

    I reckon none of youse surf enough.

  • STM

    Rog: “You mean you’re not going to turn the other cheek (pun intended)?”

    I’ll turn it once Rog; after that, they can expect a good, hatd smack in the mouth.

  • I meant baring your arse, mate!

  • Clavos

    Dueling quotations.

    One can find quotations from the Founders to support pretty nearly any POV:

    In his first inaugural address in 1801, Thomas Jefferson opined,

    A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.

    Ol’ TJ had it right.

  • One is reminded of the “Department of Truth” in “1984.” The victors get to rewrite history to suit their tastes, and the rest of us can just deal with Room 101.

  • John Lake

    Just a single point; our founding fathers agreed to the concept of “Deism”. As we know, this is a belief in God, by whatever name, with no preference to any trappings.

  • Well, if we look at our problems of the last 50 years there is a common thread:

    Without LBJ there would not have been the Civil Rights Act.

    John F. Kennedy assassinated.

    The rise of petroleum moguls which married the USA to Saudi Arabia.

    7-Eleven which Americans founded and Arabs now own.

    George W. Bush, close personal aide to the King of Saudi Arabia.

    Yep, all Texas. Forget secession. EJECT TEXAS, let the House of Saud have them.

  • RF Schatten

    May I dare, by new Texas standards, to say something over the Internet about Thomas Jefferson…well, I dare
    “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”….Thomas Jefferson

    Now, that I did that…all this psychobabble horseshit, that Texas is instituting, is nothing but, Religious Right Wing, Righteous, Fanaticism, allowed to be placed into law, by a Texas Government, that is more interested in getting those “Votes”, and staying in power, than having there constituency, rise above the National Educational Level of Stupidness. What, I feel sorry for, are the children, who will be taught in a system, that when they grow up…will be lost in the real world.

  • I couldn’t have said it better myself R.F.

  • But that’s how the political power perpetuates itself.

  • And I don’t think Texas stands alone in this respect.

    Our educational crisis is by design – both political parties reap the harvest.

  • Clavos


  • The Constitution reflects our founders views of a secular government, protecting the freedom of any belief or unbelief. The historian, Robert Middlekauff, observed, “the idea that the Constitution expressed a moral view seems absurd. There were no genuine evangelicals in the Convention, and there were no heated declarations of Christian piety.”

  • Dave, re #26

    Yes, I was being sarcastic; about as sarcastic as I know how to be. We need a Department of Information far less than a fish needs a bicycle — even in Louisiana and probably soon if not already in Florida.

    We do need some Federal immigration laws which are actually enforced. I am inadequately familiar with the situation to suggest what they should be, but fear that the ideologies on the matter are so inflexible that nothing useful will be done; the blathering class will continue to blather. As one of the folks on Laugh In said so frequently years ago, “And that’s the truth.”


  • Irene Wagner

    43 – Why “atheists” instead of “adeists” I wonder.

  • I would like to suggest an idea to Jet regards a number of comments on this thread.

    Along with Silas’s suggestion that perhaps we ought to give Rand Paul a break, because his views do happen to represent a good proportion of the constituency, in hope of setting up a possible multi-party system, why not extend the same break to Texas Board of Education. The Federal system stinks to high heaven, so what’s wrong with decentralizing the beast? What’s wrong with relinquishing the reigns to states’ control?

  • Clavos


  • Quite right. Sorry.

  • STM

    Clavos: “Reins”.

    You never lost it mate!

  • Irene Wagner

    Ruvy & Stan. Happy Pentecost! Ruvy, you mentioned the giving of the Law on Mount Horeb. That’s what Pentecost commemorates for Jews. And STM, Pentecost for Christians commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit; the letter of the law and the spirit of the law, both in the Tanakh, and both in Christ, an interesting coincidence in light of what you said in your comment.

    #51 The person on Laugh-In was Edith Ann, a.k.a. Lily Tomlin Dan(Miller).

    #53 That’s a great plan, Roger, although, as Dave Nalle said, control even down at the state level is too centralized for the selection of textbooks.

    National academic standards can be very helpful so that wheels aren’t needing to be reinvented, and so there’s a consistency in what a high school graduate is expected to know. The fine-tuning with respect to how that material is presented, though, with consideration of the sensitivities and mores of the local community, should be conducted locally.

    By all means, decentralize to the extent that it’s possible. My goodness. Picture a group deciding on textbooks for the entire nation. What should the textbook say about global warming, evolution, the Salem Witch trials, the War Between the States (aka the Civil War, if you’re up north)…immigration.. the Alamo? Imagine the national furor! It would be a “textbook” case of the Hegelian Dialectic at work, and who would want to engineer something like that?

  • I’m glad you agree, Irene. I’ve seen some of the textbooks kids are mandated to use, and they’re atrocious. Nothing but facts and memorization of facts. If I were in a public school today, I would rebel (of course if I knew any better).

    I suppose the reason for that is precisely because the USA is so diverse in terms of cultural ways and mores. So in order to “neutralize” the material lest the presentation might be found offensive in some quarters, there is no interpretation, only memorization. And of course, in the long run no one is being served (except the politicians).

    These thoughts are rather new to me, but they occur to me as I write.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    there is no interpretation, only memorization.

    The reason for that is NOT that the material might be found offensive by someone…but it could be a vast disservice to any child to show him what happened and then to tell him what he’s supposed to think about it.

    Now before you pop out a can of spinach and machine-gun me with literary tracers, think about it. Should teachers be telling the children how they’re supposed to interpret this or that event? In all actuality, they’ve been doing it for generations. In the South, we were told that the Civil War wasn’t at all about slavery, that it was about states rights. This is, how the phrase, “The War of Northern Aggression” came to be.

    That’s why many in the South grew up believing that the phrase “The War Against Slavery” was only a piece of propaganda shoved down our throats by civil rights agitators and apologists. However, it might be more accurate to call the Civil War “The War FOR Slavery”…because if you’ll read the declarations of secession by the Southern states – and particularly Mississippi’s – you’ll find anger, indeed even outrage that the North was trying to hinder, much less outlaw, the slave trade.

    And remember who attacked first. That’s why I call it the War FOR Slavery…for it was the South that seceded, and the South that first attacked.

    Now, would such a concept be welcome in the South? I’m quite serious when I say that any politician daring to state what I just did would not only have thrown away his entire political career, but also might place himself in physical danger. The hatred runs just that strong in some places in the South.

    BUT what if the children in the South were simply required to read the following (the first several sentences of the Mississippi Declaration of Secession) and allowed to discuss it among themselves and come to their own conclusion?

    In the momentous step, which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.

    Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product, which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.

    Have you seen the above in any grade-school or high-school history book? I haven’t. But if it were there in our schools’ history books, I think you’d find a lot fewer racist whites Down South.

    Kids are smarter than we think. I say we give them the facts and let them make up their own minds as to what those facts mean.

  • John Wilson

    Good point, Glenn.

  • Baronius

    John, how does the board try to instill Christian principles? Some board members are Christian, and they want to include a discussion of the religious roots of the Founders. But that’s not the same as instilling principles. You linked to the CSM editorial, but that doesn’t argue your point.

    This isn’t a point of semantics. There’s a difference between teaching something and promoting it. I noticed that the board also added specific references to Thurgood Marshall, Karl Marx, and Oprah Winfrey. I doubt that the board is trying to promote anything specific with those choices.

  • If you mean that they’re smart, you’re right John. But it’s not their schools that promote their native intelligence.

  • Jason

    What Texas does to their students is going to have a minimal impact on the rest of the union. Thanks to the technological advances of the last 30 years, it is now possible to tailor individual textbooks for specific states and school districts.

    Also, a print run of 5000 or 50,000 does nothing to the price of a book.