December 2012

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          

Blogs & Sites We Read

Blog powered by Typepad

Search Site

  • Search Site



  • Counter

Become a Fan

Cat Quote

  • "He who dislikes the cat, was in his former life, a rat."

« A Paradise Of The Infidels | Main | Get to know your primate »

March 15, 2010


"Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president during the US Civil War gets equal time as Abraham Lincoln."

It would be bad enough if they were "normal" revisionists, and just wanted to erase him from their history books. That they want to give him more prominence, celebrating him as an equal of Lincoln...

Ahhh, Joseph McCarthy and Phyllis Schlafly, my heroes.

Thanks for the summary of this slowly unfolding travesty of education.

The proposals are not now open to public comment. From the TEA site: "A document containing the extensive revisions will be posted on the Texas Education Agency website and posted in the Texas register by mid-April. Once posted, the official 30-day public comment period will begin."

Shortly after I first read this story, I fired this off to Ruchira:

If there's anything to the story--if it's not just a journalistic jumble of stuff that happened--then this is both bad news and a big yawn. Obviously, these are a bunch of dimwits behaving like little kids trying to pick a name for a new pet: "I want Scruffy!" "No-o-o-o! It has to be Noodles!" I don't quite get what an "originalist" take on separation of church and state has to do with history, anyway. It's constitutional interpretation, which no school kid should ever have to be exposed to. But some of the choices are really innocuous. Go ahead and add Phyllis Schlalfly. Kids ought to learn about her. Same for the Black Panthers. I'm all for marginalizing the Founding Fathers. They've had their due. Aquinas, Calvin, and Blackstone are cool. Jefferson's a dork. The only line that worries me is this comment from one of the conservative proponents: "The topic of sociology tends to blame society for everything." I mean, it's fine to note, as one other member does, that capitalism has a bad reputation. It does, and it should. But I wasn't aware that the "topic of sociology" blamed anybody for anything. What is she talking about? Sociology examines the configurations and dynamics of...society. Of course causes and effects will emerge out of it, rather than out of, I dunno, industrial engineering?

I guess I'm also worried about the lawyer who "thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs." On its face--the reading a strict constitutionalist would make--this is a perfectly bland remark. Of course at least some of the founders held Christian beliefs. But I gather this strict textualist doesn't utter strictly her meaning. She means the nation was affirmatively designed to follow Christian dogma. (Why doesn't she just say so?)

All in all, though, I don't see these developments, per se, as significantly damaging to a curriculum.

I'm not really as cocky about this as my knee-jerk response a couple days ago sounds, but I still wonder how much more damaging this will prove to be than the status quo. A curriculum is not a popularity contest. Equal time isn't equal honor. If we crafted curricula exclusively to include our heroes, we'd stand to miss out on quite a bit of history. I'm just saying that the response to the Texans' packing of the court shouldn't necessarily be our own.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative mentioned by Ruchira and produced "on behalf of 48 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia," has to do with English and math, not social studies. Different kettle of fish.

BB,BB,WDYS? is a lovely book and, as you note, Ruchira, it's completely inappropriate for third grade! Our kid stopped "reading" it two years ago, and he just turned four a week ago. See what I mean about the status quo?

The status quo is probably not very good, if the third grade reading list contains Bill Martin's Bear books. But that's not the point here. Rather than taking this once-every-decade opportunity to overhaul the curriculum to something better (include the Black Panthers by all means, but don't photo shop the sheet wearing KKK), the board decided to act on ideology. And I doubt that the content is any more worthy. I would have had as many problems with a left leaning, anti-white, anti-Christian, touchy feely, watered down curriculum.

My own experience with history (I studied it only up to 8th grade. After that it was all science and math) in the Indian school system was pathetic - a princely tale of hero worship of various monarchs through the ages - the British viceroys and early independence era Indian leaders included. There was hardly anything about the common people's lives, rural society or the status of the numerous tribes of India. I am finding out much about Indian history at this late age that I never knew. (BTW, for those who may be interested, Ramachandra Guha's India after Gandhi is an excellent book if you have the patience to plow through 750 pages of fact filled account. I am only up to page 200 or so and have already learnt much that I didn't know before) Then there were several attempts by Hindu chauvinists to rewrite history by eliminating all references to Muslim contributions to India's culture, of which there is much in almost all spheres including language, literature, art, music, architecture and food. I call it ill-education.

The Texas revisions are troubling on many fronts. When my children attended a suburban, mostly white school system, I heard many parents and children complain, "We don't have any blacks in our schools. Why do we have to have a holiday for MLK's birthday?" The biases that the Texas SBOE is trying to foster will surely give the impression that Texas is or was white-bread country. The truth is that it never was.

The Common Core curriculum may be a different kettle of fish from social studies. But early education's relation with young minds is akin to water and sponge. You teach a youngster to think sharply and rise to challenges in any field and you are fine tuning their all round BS detector. After solving a particularly vexing math problem, believe me, they will ask questions in the social studies class. The subject matter may be disparate but the ability to think is not compartmentalized.

After reading the initial articles about the points of contention, I thought maybe the (D) school board members were protesting too much. But after following the links in the article, I see the outrage isn't unjustified.
After all, who particularly cares to learn the names of the Tejanos who fought and died at the Alamo alongside Davy Crockett and other more famous gringos. Names like Juan Nepomuceno Seguín would be too taxing for the likes of SBOE member Barbara Cargill to impose on her 'precious' and 'blessed' children's minds. Note that this lady was/is a science educator, primarily of very young kids (i.e. before they need explanations of Evolution), but chooses to opine on the teaching of sociology:
"In the field of sociology, another conservative member, Barbara Cargill, won passage of an amendment requiring the teaching of “the importance of personal responsibility for life choices” in a section on teenage suicide, dating violence, sexuality, drug use and eating disorders. "

Also, what's it with conservative dentists who take up school board positions to ruin the curriculum and foist their views upon our children's futures? We had a couple of those types on our school board, which is now mercifully composed of saner elements (still conservative, but not Taliban-crazy.)

If it's true that as Texas textbooks go, so go the nation's textbooks, this would be a major problem. Unless the digital age of publishing textbooks makes it less likely that one state's curriculum would unduly influence that of other states.

Don't Mess With Textbooks

Jon Stewart's skewering of the SBOE. What a pity that they have managed to still ram these changes through!


The early years of the Cold War saw the United States facing a hostile Soviet Union, the "loss" of China to communism, and war in Korea.

In this politically charged atmosphere, fears of Communist influence over American institutions spread easily.

On February 9, 1950, Joseph McCarthy, a Republican senator from Wisconsin, claimed that he had a list of 205 State Department employees who were Communists.

I wonder if Joe was about 60 years to early?

How many "Socialist Commie" Czars are in the WH in 2010? Go Figure....


Hoffnung auf etwas Unterstützung von Ihnen erhalten, wenn ich Fragen haben.

Aber nicht in Deutsch, bitte.

The comments to this entry are closed.