You just can’t make this stuff up. Today, the Texas State Board of Education voted on a variety of amendments to the state social studies and U.S. government curricula. Get ready to be appalled at the outcomes. As reported by the Texas Freedom Network, the Board voted to
1) remove Thomas Jefferson from world history curriculum on the impact of Enlightenment thinkers
2) include discussion of the right to bear arms in curriculum on First Amendment rights and free expression
3) strike down an amendment that would have required students to “examine the reasons the Founding Fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others.”
What is most unbelievable and emblematic of the Board’s far-right majority’s (lack of) understanding of the separation between religion and government in America is the third item in this litany of woes. According to Cynthia Dunbar (one of the more prominent conservatives on the Board), the separation of religion and government wasn’t actually the Founders’ intent— they wanted to promote religion. Therefore, said Dunbar, the proposed amendment was “not historically accurate.”
While (luckily), Thomas Jefferson isn’t out of Texas education curricula as a whole, there is no doubt that he is one of the preeminent American scholars of the Enlightenment era and it is a shame students will not learn that. Also, last time I checked, the right to bear arms had its own section of the Bill of Rights, you know, the Second Amendment.
What’s more unfortunate is that such a narrow minded group of individuals have such power over what children learn across the country, that these are “guidelines that will affect students around the country, from kindergarten to 12th grade, for the next 10 years.” Why? Because the state of Texas buys or distributes “a staggering 48 million textbooks annually,” which leads “educational publishers to tailor their products to fit the standards dictated by the Lone Star State.”
To quote our friends at the Texas Freedom Network: “Let the word go out here: The Texas State Board of Education today refused to require that students learn that the Constitution prevents the U.S. government from promoting one religion over all others. They voted to lie to students by omission.”