I think most Progressives, Liberals or any other stripe of DFH’s often despair at how seemingly clueless the majority of our nation is. After all, there are things the political Right spouts, which are clearly crazy. Many of us have decried the ideas of the United States being a “Christian country” or any of the kind of revisionist history that the Right continually spouts, yet it seems to find fertile ground with many Americans. Where does this kind of thinking seep into our national consciousness?
One of the places is where you would least expect it, in public schools. There is a dirty little secret in the text book publishing trade, two states California and Texas pretty much have all the say in what goes into all the books in the nation, since they are the ones who make the biggest buys of these books.
Right now the ultra conservative Texas Board of Education is writing the standards for their text books. The board has a 2-to-1 Republican split. Over at Washington Monthly Mariah Blake has a great article about this fight.
Here are some of the things a Board member had to say about picking this years textbook standards;
With childlike glee, McLeroy flipped through the pages and explained what he saw as the gaping holes in Darwin’s theory. “I don’t care what the educational political lobby and their allies on the left say,” he declared at one point. “Evolution is hooey.” This bled into a rant about American history. “The secular humanists may argue that we are a secular nation,” McLeroy said, jabbing his finger in the air for emphasis. “But we are a Christian nation founded on Christian principals. 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.”
Views like these are relatively common in East Texas, a region that prides itself on being the buckle of the Bible Belt. But McLeroy is no ordinary citizen. The jovial creationist sits on the Texas State Board of Education, where he is one of the leaders of an activist bloc that holds enormous sway over the body’s decisions. As the state goes through the once-in-a-decade process of rewriting the standards for its textbooks, the faction is using its clout to infuse them with ultraconservative ideals. Among other things, they aim to rehabilitate Joseph McCarthy, bring global-warming denial into science class, and downplay the contributions of the civil rights movement.
This is a real problem this time as the state of California is not going to balance out the text book battle, since they will not have the money to buy new books until at least 2014. All of this means there is good chance that for the next few years kids in schools nation wide will be learning their history from books that try to make one of the most heinous Senators ever a good man. It is from these kinds of facts taught to school kids that keep the this nation from completely disavowing the teachings of the Right, since it requires a lot of thinking and intellectual curiosity to overcome what you are taught in grade school.
The floor is yours.