Category Archives: Book

I hoped it would get better – but it didn’t.

Texas schoolchildren will be required to learn that the words “separation of church and state” aren’t in the Constitution and evaluate whether the United Nations undermines U.S. sovereignty under new social studies curriculum.

In final votes late Friday, conservatives on the State Board of Education strengthened

Don McLeroy

requirements on teaching the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation’s Founding Fathers and required that the U.S. government be referred to as a “constitutional republic” rather than “democratic.”

The board approved the new standards with two 9-5 votes along party lines after months of ideological haggling and debate that drew attention beyond Texas.

The guidelines will be used to teach some 4.8 million students for the next 10 years. They also will be used by textbook publishers who often develop materials for other states based on those approved in Texas, though Texas teachers have latitude in deciding how to teach the material.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said after the votes Friday that such decisions should be made at the local level and school officials “should keep politics out” of curriculum debates.

“Parents should be very wary of politicians designing curriculum,” Duncan said in a statement.

But Republican board member David Bradley said the curriculum revision process has always been political but the ruling faction had changed since the last time social studies standards were adopted.

“We took our licks, we got outvoted,” he said referring to the debate 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.”

GOP board member Geraldine Miller was absent during the votes.

The board attempted to make more than 200 amendments this week, reshaping draft standards that had been prepared over the last year and a half by expert groups of teachers and professors.

As new amendments were being presented just moments before the vote, Democrats bristled that the changes had not been vetted.

“I will not be part of the vote that’s going to support this kind of history,” said Mary Helen Berlanga, a Democrat.

At least one state lawmaker vowed legislative action to “rein in” the board.

“I am disturbed that a majority of the board decided their own political agendas were more important than the education of Texas children,” said Rep. Mike Villarreal, a San Antonio Democrat.

In one of the most significant curriculum changes, the board diluted the rationale for the separation of church and state in a high school government class, noting that the words were not in the Constitution and requiring students to compare and contrast the judicial language with the First Amendment’s wording.

Students also will be required to study the decline in the U.S. dollar’s value, including the abandonment of the gold standard.

The board rejected language to modernize the classification of historic periods to B.C.E. and C.E. from the traditional B.C. and A.D., and agreed to replace Thomas Jefferson as an example of an influential political philosopher in a world history class. They also required students to evaluate efforts by global organizations such as the United Nations to undermine U.S. sovereignty.

Former board chairman Don McLeroy, one of the board’s most outspoken conservatives, said the Texas history curriculum has been unfairly skewed to the left after years of Democrats controlling the board and he just wants to bring it back into balance.

Educators have blasted the curriculum proposals for politicizing education. Teachers also have said the document is too long and will force students to memorize lists of names rather than learning to critically think.

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UPDATE: Texas Rewriting School Books

This was written by Paul Krugman in the New York Times.

Original Here

Texas Textbooks

Oh, boy. Paul Samuelson famously declared, “I don’t care who writes a nation’s laws — or crafts its advanced treatises — if I can write its economics textbooks.” But guess who’s going to be writing our textbooks?

The conservative bloc on the Texas State Board of Education won a string of victories Friday, obtaining approval for an amendment requiring high school U.S. history students to know about Phyllis Schlafly and the Contract with America as well as inserting a clause that aims to justify McCarthyism.

Outspoken conservative board member Don McLeroy, who reportedly spent over three hours personally proposing changes to the textbook standards, even wanted to cut “hip-hop” in favor of “country” in a section about the impact of cultural movements. That amendment failed.

Actually, Samuelson’s remark had more resonance than most readers imagined. After World War II, there was actually a concerted attempt to prevent the teaching of Keynesian economics at American universities, as described by Collender and Landreth (pdf). This campaign killed the first US Keynesian text, by Lorie Tarshis, but Samuelson’s book — which he said he “wrote carefully and lawyer-like” — managed to make it through the hazing.

I do have some personal interest here, of course: I’m the co-author of two college textbooks, and royalties from the intro book are a large part of our family income. But the high-school level is really where you want to worry about politicization.

*HERE IS A LINK TO MY PREVIOUS POST CONCERNING TEXAS AND IT’S REWRITING TEXT BOOKS

Darwin was a liberal, communist, liar!

Charles Darwin

The title had me at “hello!”

“Revisionaries

How a group of Texas conservatives is rewriting your kids’ textbooks.”

What I read made me want to cry and cuss.

Two quotes from the article, just to wet your appetite, are:

“…but we are a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. The way I evaluate history textbooks is first I see how they cover Christianity and Israel. Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan—he needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes.”

and…

“This critical-thinking stuff is gobbledygook.”

The preceding nuggets of intellectual wisdom were from a man who actually selects textbooks for the state of Texas and a man who represents the “think tank” that influences the people who select the text books for the state of Texas. (I don’t feel an additional comment is needed due to the weight of that sentence.)

Go and read it for yourself.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2010/1001.blake.html

Be sure to comment on this, dear readers.  I can’t wait to read how you feel about this one.

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