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.”

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Showing 5 comments
  • Katie D.

    Isn’t my home state ridiculous?? I usually don’t even claim Texas – just Austin. I intern at the Texas Education Agency, and I have been watching all the news trucks come and go. SO SAD this is what they have to report on. Great post, Arielle.

  • Gunter

    According to Mike Papantiono of Ring of Fire, Florida is trying to deal with its budget deficit by cutting out all political government classes in the schools. I hate to see some kid become a cop or a district attorney in Florida, and his/her cases get thrown out of court because he/she were never taught about the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights with regards to double jeoporady, illegal gathering evidence without suffficient probable cause, an illegal search without a warrant, etc.

    In the last 30 years, you have people saying that presidents have unlimited when they forget that there is a constitution that clearly spells out what a president can do and can’t do. The same thing for Congress.

  • Ben A.

    The idiots and idealogues are winning.

  • F. T.

    Textbook publishers have funds for research to determine not only accurate content, but also match content with appropriate grade levels and methods. However, it appears they rely on a small number of board of education members in states that make the largest textbook purchases to have input and determine specific textbook content. The largest example involves the Texas Board of Education. Why aren’t professors of graduate schools of education from varied universities requested to offer input and make recommendations? Is it only our children, who have no voice and no vote, to be subjected to well intentioned citizens with opinions but no specific knowledge in age appropriate and accurate textbook content? Perhaps we might have well meaning people with heart, diabetes, or cancer conditions serve on boards to determine specific contents to be included in our medications. Children are deserving of the very best, those without the greatest profit margin in mind. Then again, aren’t we all?

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