Even as a panel of educators laid out a vision Wednesday for national standards for public schools, the Texas school board was going in a different direction, holding hearings on changes to its social studies curriculum that would portray conservatives in a more positive light, emphasize the role of Christianity in American history and include Republican political philosophies in textbooks.
One guideline requires publishers to include a section on “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract with America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association
What Texas will possibly teach on civil rights and minorities:
There have also been efforts among conservatives on the board to tweak the history of the civil rights movement. One amendment states that the movement created “unrealistic expectations of equal outcomes” among minorities. Another proposed change removes any reference to race, sex or religion in talking about how different groups have contributed to the national identity.
And the rest of the proposed brainwashing curriculum:
** The amendments are also intended to emphasize the unalloyed superiority of the “free-enterprise system” over others and the desirability of limited government.
** One says publishers should “describe the effects of increasing government regulation and taxation on economic development and business planning.” (I bet there will be no mention of Enron or the affects of deregulation on the current market crash)
** Throughout the standards, the conservatives have pushed to drop references to American “imperialism,” preferring to call it expansionism.
** “Country and western music” has been added to the list of cultural movements to be studied.
** References to Ralph Nader and Ross Perot are proposed to be removed, while Stonewall Jackson, the Confederate general, is to be listed as a role model for effective leadership, and the ideas in Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address are to be laid side by side with Abraham Lincoln‘ speeches. (Somehow we knew that whole obsession with losing the Civil War would pop up)
** The board made it clear they would offer still more planks to highlight what they see as the Christian roots of the Constitution and other founding documents.
If this insanity just affected Texas it would be troubling. But, the size of this state’s market influences what appears in textbooks across the entire nation. Worse, once the history materials are printed, they remain in classrooms for a decade, essentially poisoning the minds of an entire generation.
In my view, the major publishers ought to refuse to print textbooks that are pure, unadulterated right wing propaganda. Unlike other books, which people can choose to read, students are forced to read these materials. No publisher is obligated to print religious dogma in the guise of history and they ought to stand on principle and decline participating in this religious brainwashing exercise.
Certainly, the Jewish, Muslim, moderate Christian, atheist etc., employees at such publishing houses ought to opt out of taking part in this dangerous process. While there may be money to be made up front, to print this garbage is to profit by selling the future. The question these employees should ask is this: Will teaching that America is a fundamentalist Christian nation make life better or worse for their children and grandchildren?
The answer to this is quite clear. We’ve worked hard as a nation to limit overt bigotry based on race, religion, sex and sexual orientation. Publishers should make the wise decision – for the good of the country – not to print propaganda, religious dogma and historical revisionism.