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Texas Education Far Right Conservative Textbooks Slant

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In The News

A far-right faction of the Texas State Board of Education succeeded Friday in injecting conservative ideals into education subjects of social studies, history and economics to be taught to millions of students over the next 10 years.

Teachers in Texas will be required to cover the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers. Texas teachers will not, however, highlight philosophical rationale for separation of church and state. New educational curriculum standards will also describe the U.S. government as a "constitutional republic," instead of "democratic." Future students will also be required to study the decline in value of the U.S. dollar as well as abandonment of the gold standard.

Board decisions are powerful. A Board which includes attorneys, a dentist and a weekly newspaper publisher among others, can affect textbook content across the entire nation because Texas is one of the publishers' biggest clients.

Ultra-conservatives wielded power over hundreds of textbook subjects this week, introducing and rejecting amendments on subjects including the civil rights movement and global politics. Mary Helen Berlanga of Corpus Christi, Texas, accused colleagues of "whitewashing" curriculum standards and walked out.

By late Thursday, three other Democrats left, allowing Republicans to easily push through amendments heralding "American exceptionalism" and the U.S. free enterprise system and the idea that it thrives best absent excessive government intervention.

"We have been about conservatism versus liberalism," said Democrat Mavis Knight of Dallas, explaining her vote against the standards. "We have manipulated strands to insert what we want it to be in the document, regardless as to whether or not it's appropriate."

"Some board members themselves acknowledged this morning that the process for revising curriculum standards in Texas is seriously broken, with politics and personal agendas dominating just about every decision," said President of the Texas Freedom Network, Kathy Miller, advocate for religious freedom.

Republican Terri Leo, a member of the powerful Christian conservative voting bloc, called the standards "world class" and "exceptional."

Board members argued about the classification of historic periods (still B.C. and A.D., rather than B.C.E. and C.E.); whether students should be required to explain the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its impact on global politics (they will); and whether former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir should be required learning (she will).

In addition to students learning the Bill of Rights, the board specified a reference to the Second Amendment right to bear arms in a section regarding citizenship in a U.S. government class. Conservatives ensured that future students learn about “the conservative resurgence of the 80s and 90s in schools. Education topics include Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association,” The New York Times reported.

Don McLeroy, leader of the conservative faction, pushed through a major change to the teaching of the civil rights movement in America. McLeroy's change will ensure future students study what has been deemed the violent philosophy of the Black Panthers as well as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s non-violent methods. He also ensured that student textbooks will mention the votes in Congress on civil rights legislation that Republicans supported.

The board replaced the word “capitalism” throughout textbooks with the term “free-enterprise system.” Conservatives refused inclusion of hip-hop as an example of a significant cultural movement.

Repeated attempts to add names or references to important Hispanics throughout history were denied, while separate amendment deleted a requirement that sociology students "explain how institutional racism is evident in American society."

The only notch for Democrats: deletion of a portion of an amendment by Conservative leader McLeroy which suggests that the civil rights movement led to "unrealistic expectations for equal outcomes."


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