If Texas rewrites history, do we all need to read the book?

The national furor created by the curriculum changes approved by the social conservatives on the Texas State Board of Education shows no sign of easing.

Now, the Interfaith Alliance has sent a protest to the top publishing companies. Because Texas is such a behemoth among textbook purchasers, many people fear that its constrained world view will show up in textbooks used in other states.

In its release, the Alliance said:

“We do not take lightly the changes approved by the Texas SBOE, and at this point we are working to ensure that other children across the country are not taught an inaccurate history of our country,” said Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance and author of the letter sent to the publishing companies.

A Christian conservative bloc of the board voted to incorporate the study of the right to bear arms (the Second Amendment) in the curriculum on First Amendment rights and free expression, and to remove Thomas Jefferson from the curriculum that covers the Enlightenment period.  Equally as important as these votes, the Texas SBOE also struck down an amendment that articulated “the reasons the Founding Fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others.”  The Texas SBOE felt that the Founders did not intend for the nation to have separation of church and state.

“The Texas SBOE members certainly are entitled to believe whatever they want about our country and its history,” Gaddy continued.  “The problem arises when their religious beliefs begin to essentially rewrite history for our children.  Separation of church and state was a core tenet of our nation’s founding.  Whether you like him or not, Thomas Jefferson was a leading thinker during the Enlightenment.  It’s almost unfathomable to think that Texas schoolchildren won’t learn these basic facts now. We urge the publishers to ensure that other children still will.”

Update Friday: Please note that the Interfaith Alliance released the following statement clarifying its original statement:

The proposed social studies standards from the Texas State Board of Education have sparked a national debate, and raised many concerns for those of us committed to protecting the boundaries between religion and government. Based on news reports, Interfaith Alliance issued a press release that implied that the term “Christian Nation” would be included in the new standards; it is now clear that this term is not to appear in the new standards. What is clear, however, is that the amendments proposed to the standards would have the net effect of incorrectly teaching our children that our nation’s founding documents and Constitution were derived from the bible or intended to privilege one religion over another.

Following conversations with Texas State Board of Education member Don McLeroy and others, it is clear that we have differences of opinion about the proposed Texas standards.  That is no surprise.  We remain committed to advocating for standards that are based on history rather than ideology. We will continue our conversations with Mr. McLeroy and other interested parties in an effort to ensure attention is given to our concerns.  Too much is at stake to not challenge indoctrination perpetrated under the guise of education.

152 comments Add your comment

LM Hansen

March 25th, 2010
4:17 am

This is so depressing–it’s like Americans have been so successfully distracted into looking for terrorists under the bed, that they’ve completely missed the fascists hiding in the closet. And the problem with we ‘live and let live’ types is we’d rather be doing ANYTHING else, than having to spend our time trying to stop the crazy people from turning this country into a religious police state. Sigh. I really hope that people who believe in separation of church and state make some noise over this. It’s not just Texas, it’s happening everywhere.

Lee

March 25th, 2010
5:20 am

Oh good grief, the politically correct pathogens in New York and California have been re-writing textbooks, especially history, for decades.

DeborahinAthens

March 25th, 2010
6:19 am

This has been going on for decades, but it has spiked during the last Republican “Reformation” when the Republican party decided that it no longer could accommodate people that were not pro-life, anti-stem cell research– rational humans. That was when I became a Democrat. Bush and Cheney were masters of the “if we say it over and over it has to become the truth”. Witness the Weapons of Mass Destruction that some of their ilk still think are buried under the sand somewhere. Witness the dingbats that insisted Terry Schiavo was going to wake up and walk and talk, in spite of the fact that her autopsy showed that she was in a vegetative state. Witness the building, by religious nuts, of a museum that shows dinosaurs living with humans, when science clearly tells us that this is not possible. In their narrow-minded world, the Earth has existed for only six thousand years, so to support that stupidity, they have to cram everything in at once. No matter that it is proven that the Earth has been around for millions and millions of years. These religious nut jobs take their children to see this travesty, and I am sure, since it is a museum, they come away thinking that it is fact instead of fiction. The danger of allowing these people to have the power to re-write history is that we are dumbing down our children to the extent that we are already decades behind the rest of the world in science. It is tragic that they have hijacked our country by making their own definitions of what constitutes a “patriot”. Thomas Jefferson was always worried about the influence of religion on our country, that is why they want to write him out of the books, because his rational thinking doesn’t jibe with their religious, narrow-minded view of our country. It would make our founding fathers–true patriots–roll over in their graves. I have seen a video of the board that was making these decisions, and one of the women, the one that seemed to have the most clout, clearly was very stupid, yet the rest of the board deferred to her. We have to wonder what political power she had over the others. The only way to stop them is to be vocal and stop putting these people into positions of power. It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

bootney farnsworth

March 25th, 2010
6:52 am

Deborah

two words: global warming.
two more words: Leonard Jefferies

the left has been rewriting history and science to suit its agenda for well over 40 years.

for someone so outraged by the abuses of history, learn some first.

bootney farnsworth

March 25th, 2010
6:54 am

I wonder how long the left will continue to blame Bush 43 for everything? somehow its gonna be his fault when Obamacare starts killing folks via rationing.

grow up folks.

Philosopher

March 25th, 2010
7:00 am

Yes, this stuff is VERY disturbing and discouraging. Even Jesus who tried to stand up against the religious zealots and show us a better way, was killed. He was killed because he made the people see the truth and that threatened the religious leaders’ hold over the people (allowing them great political and financial power). Over and over in history, you seee the same thing. People using religion to control the masses. It has little to do with the leaders actual religious beliefs, but rather their power over the sheeple and consequently, their MONEY. Eventually, people who can think for themselves, stand up and fight against the tyranny and the cycle begins again. Will we NEVER learn?!

LSH

March 25th, 2010
7:11 am

As a social studies teacher for years- I can tell everyone to chill out. Fact #1 even when assigned, the kids don’t actually READ the textbooks. Fact #2 it’s the teacher in the classroom doing the teaching- not the book. Fact #3 most kids come to class (high school) with their own opinions already formed about a lot of things. As a teacher I know that I can expose them to some different ideas- but I don’t MAKE them have ideas- those come from home.

ABC

March 25th, 2010
7:14 am

Much like the hate-spewing tea baggers hurling racial and other insults at our members of Congress…and possibly conducting acts of violence against them…this is domestic terrorism pure and simple. There are many good, reasonable and enlightened people in Texas. Their voices need to be heard, otherwise our own kids here in Georgia could be subjected to this rewriting of history.

@bootney

March 25th, 2010
7:17 am

What the heck does that have to do with anything? I think you have posted on these forums that you teach college? God help us all if that is true.

The Texas BOE has lost its collective mind. Though, other posters are right – this has happened before. I mean, Thomas Paine has already been pretty much written out of history. In fact, many of our more secular founding fathers have been. I’m sure John Adams is next for his part in the Treaty of Tripoli, in which appears the following:

Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

This article, as part of the treaty, was voted and approved unanimously by Congress in 1797. It was also printed in national newspaper. Guess what, no one raised a fuss. Imagine if such a thing appeared today – there would be a conservative upheaval the likes of which we have never seen. But, there it is. A historical document. Approved by our founding fathers in 1797, to ensure peace with a Muslim territory. Yet, these zealots in Texas want to indoctrinate their students with the idea that men like Adams, Washington, Franklin, et al were “good, church-going folk.” This is scary, people.

joe

March 25th, 2010
7:17 am

If we think our kids learn through textbooks, then that’s a bigger problem.

@bootney

March 25th, 2010
7:31 am

stuck in filter purgatory …

TBALL

March 25th, 2010
7:40 am

The beauty of this is that Texas is exercising its 10th Amendment rights under our trampled Constitution.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Despite Washington’s “good intentions”, they have no business or Constitutional authority in education. Education should be a state and local matter. Washington dangles the financial carrots and everyone dances like puppets trying to get the latest grants and accepting the attached, liberal, unfunded mandates. More states need to assert their 10th Amendment rights over education and all other areas where the Constitution does NOT delegate powers to the federal government in Washington!

Amos Anders

March 25th, 2010
7:45 am

California & New York are just jealous because Texas is doing a better, yet LESS left-wing, revision of American history than those states have been doing for decades.

When California falls off into the Pacific and New York sinks into the lower ring of H E LL, this will be a better country for all of us.

Same old

March 25th, 2010
7:46 am

Sample math problem:
There are 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats in the room. How many people are in the room? 3

Amos Anders, JR.

March 25th, 2010
7:47 am

California & New York are just jealous because Texas is doing a better, yet LESS left-wing, revision of American history than those states have been doing for decades.

When California falls off into the Pacific and New York sinks into the lower ring of H E LL, this will be a better country for all of us.

Philosopher

March 25th, 2010
7:47 am

TBALL: and our constitution allows us freedom from religious tyranny. Personally, I consider writing American History in a fashion that suits one group’s religious agendas, and then forcing the children to study that, to be religious tyranny.

Just Saying...

March 25th, 2010
7:47 am

@Philosopher … IMO, We will learn if and only if the later generations remember the importance fights that has been won to prevent the downward spiral that eventually leads back to the starting point. “History forgotten is history repeated.”

The first amendment states we have freedom of religion, press, and expression. If the USA was built only of Christians views, the writers of the constitution would not have written freedom of religion, but freedom to practice ONLY Christianity.

just me

March 25th, 2010
7:52 am

@bootney farnsworth I still here the right blaming Clinton for many things (the housing bubble, the bank problems, even letting 911) so don’t sing that sad song about Bush 43. He was a poor excuse of human flesh

FLAWoodLayer

March 25th, 2010
7:53 am

Really? What did Leonard Jefferies get put into any history standards? That is just a blatanlt false statement. The histroy standards are always whitewashed and STILL do not include much of anything else besides WASP,East Coast, elite history. Good job fighting this in that bastion of intellectualism that is Texas.

Dr. M

March 25th, 2010
7:55 am

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1879 was asked if it was possible to separate Christianity from the Government. After careful deliberation and seiting 87 presedents, they ruled that because the country was founded on Christianity, it was impossible to separate Christianity from the government. They also said that they could have seited more presedents but they felt that 87 were sufficient.

The only document that I know of that mentions Seperation of Church and State is the old USSR constitution. I don’t think that is us. At least not yet.

Attentive Parent

March 25th, 2010
7:57 am

So you have metro Atlanta high schools using James W Loewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me as the required summer reading in an Honors English class and nobody worries about it.

More than one apparently uses Howard Zinn without comment.

But we’re doing multiple one-sided stories about the Texas school board and its presumed effect on Georgia.

We have propaganda problems much closer to home.

Plus weren’t we told repeatedly during the math debacle that good textbooks aren’t necessary anyway to solid instruction?

Ann

March 25th, 2010
7:57 am

I would like to see a list of the liberal talking points that are false contained in today’s text books. Apparently there are a lot, and they have been there for years. Let’s see them.

Terry

March 25th, 2010
8:01 am

Anyone who thinks we were intended to be a christian nation obviously knows little to nothinh about our founding fathers. The saddest part is that people believe this crap to be true, just like the literal interpetation of the bible. We live in an America filled with ignorance, hate, and stupidity and the south leads the way proudly; and I am a Georgia native and descended from families who have been in North America thousands of years and the white part 400

@DrM

March 25th, 2010
8:01 am

And you have proof of this? If so, it would be nice for you to share because from where I sit that sounds like one of those half-truths that conservatives like to through at people (see WMDs, Taliban=Iraq, Yellow Cake Uranium, et al)…

T-Steel

March 25th, 2010
8:02 am

I’m not overly concerned with Texas rewriting history simply because there are too many sources of information available outside of textbooks. As a parent with two middle school aged daughters, I make it a point to ask what they are learning. And I always point them directions to expand their knowledge. ‘Nuff said on that.

About the separation of church and state, I’m going to be very direct: I’m not religious but I respect those that are. Don’t tread on me and we’ll be fine.

two points

March 25th, 2010
8:05 am

1. It’s sad that a large state like Texas (and Florida and California) has so much influence in the content of textbooks sold in the US. Even though education is supposed to be a state issue, not a federal, those few large states basically set the defacto national standards. Maybe it is a good thing that there is a movement to have a common core standard – even though Texas hasn’t signed on.

2. Although it is true that teachers teach, not textbooks, I’m sure that the state of Texas gets to test their students. And, we know what impact testing has on teachers.

Amos Anders

March 25th, 2010
8:07 am

RE: Terry @ 8:01 am – “We live in an America filled with ignorance, hate, and stupidity and the south leads the way proudly;”

Terry, you are an EXCELLENT representative and consummate example of both America and the South.

Self-Righteous Nutjob.

Lt Col

March 25th, 2010
8:08 am

WASP,East Coast,elite history? I haven’t seen us celebrating “White History Month” lately, only Black. The playing field is certainly not a level one, it tilts dramatically to the left.

Commonsenseagitator

March 25th, 2010
8:09 am

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” In case you have trouble reading, this means that the government cannot establish any religion, that religion and the government are separate.

Commonsenseagitator

March 25th, 2010
8:11 am

Ninth Amendment – Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights.

Dr. M

March 25th, 2010
8:12 am

Terry
I guess the US Supreme Court know little or nothing about our founding fathers? You have been systematically lied to and brainwashed like many Americans for the last 50 years at least. If you look at Supreme Court rulings from the founding of the country to 1946, you will find consistant ruling on this, that this is a Christian country. In 1962 when prayer was thrown out of school, the Supreme Court seited (0) ZERO presedents. They made it up!

Terry

March 25th, 2010
8:15 am

Did I offend a yankee? I’m sorry ignorance and hate are not restricted to the south we see plenty of it from the nutjobs up north and those that have moved here from the north

Terry

March 25th, 2010
8:16 am

DR M. show me where the founding fathers wrote that we are a christian nation. Just show me one quote, one item written that supports that ignorant view

RGB

March 25th, 2010
8:17 am

I enjoyed the comment that mentioned both “Clinton” and “human flesh”.

Eventually people self-reveal.

Clinton did have a focus on human flesh while in the Oval Office.

Enlightened

March 25th, 2010
8:18 am

No where in any document does it say that there should be a separation of Church and State. Article 1 of the Constitution does state that the Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist is where the phrase separation of church and state originated. That letter spoke of the separation of keeping the state out of the church. In other words the state should not be telling the church what to do. This has been perverted to claim that anyone who prays at a school or leads a prayer at a school means that the state is establishing a religion by allowing that prayer. Nonsense. That is actually prohibiting the free exercise of said religion.

Again the goal was to keep the state out of church matters not the other way around. This nation was founded on Christian principles. That does not mean all the founders were Christian just that they used Christian principles and morals. That is undeniable. The vast majority of people that founded this country and moved here were fleeing religious persecution. They intended for anyone to practice any religion they wanted without the government interfering. Now only Christians can’t practice freely in a public space (school).

What the Texas SBOE is doing is what the rest of the country should be doing. Teaching what really happened.

Terry

March 25th, 2010
8:19 am

BTW its “cited” and “precedent”

Commonsenseagitator

March 25th, 2010
8:21 am

The ignorance of the far right never ceases to amaze

Swede Atlanta

March 25th, 2010
8:22 am

Another “brilliant” idea emanating from Texas. Not!!!!

I doubt these changes will have little effect on what Texas students know about these issues. Texas is free to make these changes unless they are deemed to be a state “establishment” (or promotion) of religion. It will be interesting to see if these changes are challenged in court.

I for one would be happy if Texas seceded from the Union. We would then erect a fence along the border and place armed guards to kill anyone trying to cross the border. We would have no diplomatic or commercial relations with Texas. We would use the same policies toward Texas as we have with Cuba. Family members could have limited contact. We might even agree to establish postal ties with them in about 25 years. No more American or Continental Airlines flights to the U.S.

They would be very thirsty to sell their petroleum. We would not have to pay more than the global market so that is no leverage over us.

Gee, the more I think about it this would be a terrific thing!!!!

Ginger

March 25th, 2010
8:22 am

Dr. M, how many precedents does the Supreme Court need to look at to see that prayer in public schools is a clear government endorsement of religion and therefore a violation of the First Amendment?

A Different Opinion

March 25th, 2010
8:24 am

Ah, the “Rise and Fall of the American Empire”……In one hundred years, this will be the biggest chapter in American History Books taught to children in our, er…their country. Muslims and Hispanics will have an equally large chapter because of their part in bringing about our downfall. Folks, it’s happening right now before our very eyes…..pay attention!!!!!

I_Teach

March 25th, 2010
8:26 am

This goes beyond rewriting TEXTBOOKS, folks. They have revised history. Critical elements have been deleted, because it does not suit the far-right’s religious agenda. Folks like Jefferson are being downplayed….but Gingrich and Reagan are elevated. Separation of Church and State isn’t going to be taught. Mexican-Americans’ contributions were also slashed. If you really research the changes the Texas BOE made, you would be HORRIFIED.

Forget the ‘textbook’ issue.

Additionally, the Texas Miracle has been debunked. They showed “amazing progress” by playing with numbers, and not allowing students they knew wouldn’t pass their benchmark tests to advance to the grade where they would, obstensibly, take and fail it.

Texas has NOT been an educational leader.

Big picture: beware of people with serious clout and scary agendas…I have well-educated professional friends in Texas who are pulling their kids out of public schools and finding private schools with a reality-based curriculum-rather than subject their children to the revisionist history that is going on.

And, while ALL history curriculum is biased in some way, the changes made are truly…..disgusting, is the word that comes to mind.

RGB

March 25th, 2010
8:27 am

ABC @ 7:14 unfortunately perpetuated the lie that members of the Tea Party yelled racial epithets against black congressmen.

This assertion is a lie. As the link states, “This one [McClatchy newspaper] headline contains one perilously uncorroborated accusation and three conscious fabrications.”
http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/03/anatomy_of_a_racial_smear_1.html

The left has to fabricate racial slurs to provide cover for bad health care policy. This reeks of desperation on the part of the statist Democrat party.

Shame on you.

Enlightened

March 25th, 2010
8:28 am

Allowing prayer in school is not a state endorsement of religion but rather prohibiting the free exercise thereof. If you don’t believe that way then don’t participate. If you are not a Catholic then don’t pray the rosary or go to confession, if you are not muslim then you don’t have to pray 5 times a day to Mecca. On both of those just seeing others practicing their religions does not equate to the state establishing a religion by allowing the free exercise of that religion.

V for Vendetta

March 25th, 2010
8:29 am

Wow . . . just wow . . .

Although many of you are correct in saying that this sort of thing has been happening for years, it does not in any way justify the actions of the Texas SBOE (Taliban). The simple fact that they recognized the intellectual danger of a man such as Thomas Jefferson is proof enough. Jefferson was at most a deist, and he purposely left Christian terminology out of our most cherished documents in order to preserve the secularism intended by the Founding Fathers. (Dr. M, you can quote any one-hundred-years-later court cases you want, but it is quite obvious that the Founding Fathers intended the United States’ government to remain secular. The “Separation of Church and State” quote appears in multiple letters from both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.)

Jefferson probably receives the majority of their ire because of his attempt to reconcile his belief in a god with the predominating viewpoint of the colonies (Christianity). I’m sure the Jeffersonian Bible rubbed a few of those Texas conservatives the wrong way. (Jefferson purposely took out Jesus’s miracles because he didn’t believe in his divinity; he saw Jesus as a philosopher and moral teacher.) However, it is interesting that they make no mention of Benjamin Franklin, the most agnostic of all the Founding Fathers. Franklin was open in his criticism of organized religion. I suppose they’ll have to attribute the discovery of electricity, creation of bifocals, etc. to Jesus, too.

I’ve long had a problem with liberal anti-intellectualism when it comes to the teaching of History: they want to promote primitive cultures who remained mired in barbarism even after the industrialized world had passed them by–and somehow justify such ignorance as deserving of respect and admiration. I do not respect anti-intellectualism in any form, but it is interesting to note the similarities between the liberal agenda and the conservative one: in the end, they are both promoting ignorance, which is, by its very nature, anti-life.

Though I hope people in Texas aren’t ignorant enough to allow such a travesty to take place, I am seriously afraid they are. The Founding Fathers were wise in their promotion of secularism: only a truly secular country can secure the individual rights of its citizens. But this concept has eroded over time, and there are some people today who still have their individual rights violated by the majority opinion (gays’ rights to marry), which is why the Founding Fathers set up this country as a Republic–not a Democracy.

It is time we stop recognizing and giving attention to the anti-intellectuals in this country. They have done enough damage already.

I_Teach

March 25th, 2010
8:29 am

“Enlightened?” You have NOT studied the changes they made. They are NOT teaching “what happened.” They have elevated people and events that fit THEIR beliefs.

The teaching of history should be unbiased. According to the new curriculum, we “won” the Vietnam War; we “won” the war in the Mid-East (really? the jury’s still out on that one, since we are STILL THERE.) If you read the changes, you will see, that they have NO interest in covering American history as it was. Rather, American history as they want it.

Dr. M

March 25th, 2010
8:31 am

Terry
I am seiting US Supreme Court rulings. The Court ruled that we are a Christian nation on multiple occasions. I don’t have the exact case studies at my finger tips this morning but I can get them. It will take a few days which I guess we don’t have. There was another case in 1811 in which a man was arrested for handing out flyers defaming the name of Jesus Christ. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that because the the country was founded on Christianity that an attack on Jesus Christ was an attack on the United States of America. The man was given 6 months in jail and find over $1000 (I can’t remember the exact amount).

I_Teach

March 25th, 2010
8:32 am

RGB: Congressman Lewis was on the news-and said he WAS, in fact, called the dreaded ‘n-word.’ And, he said, “it wasn’t the first time, and I’ve been called worse.” Barney Frank was called a “faggot.” Yes, saw those words coming out of his mouth, too. Forget second-hand accounts. Listen to what the people said were yelled at them.

So, the rage that the far right is displaying, really has nothing to do with healthcare reform, now, does it?

Enlightened

March 25th, 2010
8:33 am

I see no one has challenged the facts as I have laid them out. Allowing prayer in schools is not establishing a state religion. If a Christian group wants to meet guess what – they can’t at a public school. I know because when I was in high school we could not meet on school property. Any other group could but if you had a group that wanted to have a Bible study before school in a classroom – no way. By doing that the “state” is prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

jconservative

March 25th, 2010
8:34 am

Fact: The Constitution of the United States of America is the most religion neutral constitution on the planet. Read it sometimes. All of it, every word. Religion neutral.

Fact: Part of Jefferson’s original Declaration was changed because it was too religious. How did Franklin put it, “smacks of the pulpit”?

Fact: The US was founded by christians, jews, agnostics and atheists.

Some US history needs to be changed and some has. In the 1950’s I was taught the Washington cherry tree story, the Gettysburg address was written by Lincoln on the back of an envelope & that the “War Between the States” was not about slavery. All hogwash but taught to every kid in Georgia. It is gone and high time.

Ezra

March 25th, 2010
8:36 am

Enlightened

March 25th, 2010
8:18 am
Great comment! The left seems to not to read the second statement “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. I guess we have a different meaning of “free”. Keep the common sense coming!