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.