Reason Freely

Texas vs Freedom

Posted in Uncategorized by reasonfreely on March 26, 2010

There goes Texas…  and with it, the world.  Before getting to the details, let me explain that Texas Board of Education orders so many textbooks, they basically dictate textbook standards for most of the nation.

I’ve been trying to write something on this subject for a while, but…  At this point, I feel the need to simply aggregate what others have said out there into one big post.  These links will catalog for you what is going on.  Pick and choose as you want from the various sources.  Maybe I’ll come up with a good freethinker angle and write an essay.  For now, I’ll just give you the news articles and opinion pieces that I’ve found:

The details:  Texas has been rewriting history.

Watch video:  McLeroy on ABC (more video)

Harsh words from the blogosphere:

“What’s going on in Texas is a genuine outrage; a frightening example of what happens when religious fanatics get into positions of power.”  — Little Green Footballs

“It was no accident that he fixed on education as a central part of such a vision, and did so in a spirit totally antithetical to the actions of the Texas school board.  In an effort that warrants our remembrance and care more today than ever, Jefferson wanted education to foster critical attention to history and politics, so that in a true democracy we the people could prepare ourselves for our awesome responsibility.” —History News Network

ThinkProgress ; Science blogs ; Historians speak out ; Video on NYT

Fox News ; Chuck Norris:  Don’t Mess With Texas (but let Texas mess with you?)

Huffington Post breaks down the four major changes to history that Texas is about to make

This has happened before, where major errors (Sputnik = nuke) in Texan textbooks made it into textbooks throughout the country.

“How Christian Were the Founding Fathers,” a great article on NYT — long quote:

In the new guidelines, students taking classes in U.S. government are asked to identify traditions that informed America’s founding, “including Judeo-Christian (especially biblical law),” and to “identify the individuals whose principles of law and government institutions informed the American founding documents,” among whom they include Moses. The idea that the Bible and Mosaic law provided foundations for American law has taken root in Christian teaching about American history. So when Steven K. Green, director of the Center for Religion, Law and Democracy at Willamette University in Salem, Ore., testified at the board meeting last month in opposition to the board’s approach to bringing religion into history, warning that the Supreme Court has forbidden public schools from “seeking to impress upon students the importance of particular religious values through the curriculum,” and in the process said that the founders “did not draw on Mosaic law, as is mentioned in the standards,” several of the board members seemed dumbstruck. Don McLeroy insisted it was a legitimate claim, since the Enlightenment took place in Europe, in a Christian context. Green countered that the Enlightenment had in fact developed in opposition to reliance on biblical law and said he had done a lengthy study in search of American court cases that referenced Mosaic law. “The record is basically bereft,” he said. Nevertheless, biblical law and Moses remain in the TEKS.

In his recommendations to the Texas school board, Barton wrote that students should be taught the following principles which, in his reading, derive directly from the Declaration of Independence: “1. There is a fixed moral law derived from God and nature. 2. There is a Creator. 3. The Creator gives to man certain unalienable rights. 4. Government exists primarily to protect God-given rights to every individual. 5. Below God-given rights and moral laws, government is directed by the consent of the governed.”

After the book came out, Dunbar was derided in blogs and newspapers for a section in which she writes of “the inappropriateness of a state-created, taxpayer-supported school system” and likens sending children to public school to “throwing them into the enemy’s flames, even as the children of Israel threw their children to Moloch.”

Kathy Miller, the watchdog, who has been monitoring the board for 15 years, says, referring to Don McLeroy and another board member: “It is the most crazy-making thing to sit there and watch a dentist and an insurance salesman rewrite curriculum standards in science and history. Last year, Don McLeroy believed he was smarter than the National Academy of Sciences, and he now believes he’s smarter than professors of American history.”

Frankly, I’m all about teaching about religion in public schools.  Students need to know some of the awful things done in the name of God and His prophets, and how nations get in that mess to begin with.

Historians speak out, call the Texas board liars:

Fallout:  Mess used by Bill White (Democratic mayor of houston) to challenge Rick Perry (Republican Board president, dentist, asshat).  Read about it here.    And here.


3 Responses

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  1. Andy said, on March 29, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    What’s stopping the other states from banding together and creating a competing standard with commensurate purchasing power behind it? I wonder if we could lobby MD to lead the charge on something like that?

    • Dave said, on April 5, 2010 at 6:02 pm

      @Andy – Hooray for further polarization of our country!

      • Andy said, on April 7, 2010 at 5:17 pm

        @Dave, no state should be able to bias another’s education system, and right now Texas can. I’m just suggesting a market-based fix (as opposed to, say, national education standards, which would probably be even more polarizing).

        I’m not too worried about further polarization anyway, because I think we’re already past the point of no return. The right and left are so far apart ideologically, and so invested in conflict with each other, that I doubt they’ll be cooperative or civil with each other unless/until one side scores such a decisive victory that the other can’t survive without playing nice.

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