Texas has been all over the news lately for their latest decision to make major cuts and odd additions to their public education curriculum.  From the Huffington Post article, here are a few of the proposed changes:

  • Thomas Jefferson? Who’s that? The Board removed Thomas Jefferson from the Texas curriculum’s world history standards on Enlightenment thinking, “replacing him with religious right icon, John Calvin.”From the Texas Freedom Network’s live-blog of the board hearing:Board member Cynthia Dunbar wants to change a standard having students study the impact of Enlightenment ideas on political revolutions from 1750 to the present. She wants to drop the reference to Enlightenment ideas (replacing with “the writings of”) and to Thomas Jefferson. She adds Thomas Aquinas and others. Jefferson’s ideas, she argues, were based on other political philosophers listed in the standards. We don’t buy her argument at all. Board member Bob Craig of Lubbock points out that the curriculum writers clearly wanted to students to study Enlightenment ideas and Jefferson. Could Dunbar’s problem be that Jefferson was a Deist? The board approves the amendment, taking Thomas Jefferson OUT of the world history standards.We’re just picking ourselves up off the floor. The board’s far-right faction has spent months now proclaiming the importance of emphasizing America’s exceptionalism in social studies classrooms. But today they voted to remove one of the greatest of America’s Founders, Thomas Jefferson, from a standard about the influence of great political philosophers on political revolutions from 1750 to today.
  • No Church-State Separation – “Teachers in Texas will be required to cover the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation’s Founding Fathers, but not highlight the philosophical rationale for the separation of church and state.” “I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”
  • U.S. not ‘democratic’ – Curriculum standards also will describe the U.S. government as a “constitutional republic,”rather than democratic” and students will be required to study the decline in value of the U.S. dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard.
  • Hip-hop not culturally significant – Conservatives beat back multiple attempts to include hip-hop as an example of a significant cultural movement.
  • All religions equal under Constitution? – The Board refused to require that “students learn that the Constitution prevents the U.S. government from promoting one religion over all others.”
  • Preserving McCarthy’s legacy – “Other changes seem aimed at tamping down criticism of the right. Conservatives passed one amendment, for instance, requiring that the history of McCarthyism include ‘how the later release of the Venona papers confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government.’ The Venona papers were transcripts of some 3,000 communications between the Soviet Union and its agents in the United States.”
  • ‘Conservative resurgence’ – “They also included a plank to ensure that students learn aboutthe 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.'” The Dallas Morning News noted that “high school students will learn about leading conservative groups from the 1980s and 1990s – but not about liberal or minority rights groups.”
  • ‘Transexuals and who knows what else’ – “Board member Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, objected to a standard for a high school sociology course that addressed the difference between sex and gender. It was eliminated in a 9-to-6 vote. She worried that a discussion of that issue would lead students into the world of ‘transvestites, transsexuals and who knows what else.'”
  • ‘Capitalism’ becomes ‘free-enterprise system’ – “Members voted to polish up references to the American ‘free enterprise’ economic system and removed most mentions of ‘capitalism,’ a word that board member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, said has a negative connotation.”
  • Reagan yes, Kennedy no – “Board members also rejected requiring history teachers and textbooks to provide coverage on the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy and new Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, while the late President Ronald Reagan was elevated to more prominent coverage.”
  • Hispanics died at the Alamo? – With all five minority members dissenting, the conservative-dominated panel voted 10-5 to endorse the proposed standards after rejecting an effort to specifically mention that Tejanos were among the fallen heroes of the Alamo. “I am very distressed,” said Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi, who sponsored the unsuccessful amendment. “Until we are ready to tell the truth about history, we don’t have a good history or social studies textbook.”

All of this heavy editing can only have a negative effect on students in Texas.  These kids are going to go to college completely unaware of what their history really means.  I wonder if the school board is familiar with that saying “If you don’t know your history, you are doomed to repeat it.”  Aside from that, I would like to know what the Texas BOE is afraid of?  What really happened in the past isn’t so bad.  What’s so dangerous about history?

If this catches on we’re gonna need another Brain Drain.