Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Texas scores again, and not in a good way.

You might remember all the rough and tumble politics the past few years in Texas and how the vocal minority failed to achieve all their goals to gut science education. Well in addition to attacking science education, they were also doing their best to re-write history. I commented on it in May 0f 2009 with "Social Studies Next on the Firing Line".

Well yesterday one of my favorite folks, Lauri Lebo, has a terrific post about it. It seems the Texas Social Studies curriculum received a 'D' from the conservative Thomas Fordham Institute. You really have to read it for yourself. "Fundamentalist-Led Texas History Standards Get ‘D’ from Conservative Think Tank". Some choice quotes include:

  • "Complex historical issues are obscured with blatant politicizing throughout the document"
  • "Native peoples are missing until brief references to nineteenth-century events. Slavery, too, is largely missing."
  • "Incredibly, racial segregation is only mentioned in a passing reference to the 1948 integration of the armed forces."
  • "The conservative majority on the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) has openly sought to use the state curriculum to promote its political priorities, molding the telling of the past to justify its current views and aims." [Italics added]
Ouch! Can it get much worse for the students in Texas? At least Texas voters had the sense to vote out some of the more overt Creationists, like Don McLeroy. But his influence will be hurting Texas for a while. I can't call it a legacy, because you normally think of a legacy as something positive. I don't believe Don McLeroy was anything positive when it came to Texas schoolchildren. His specific narrow religious viewpoint and politics were much more important to him than the education of the next generation.

Of course the report is fired upon by Conservative Texas-based Liberty Institute, an arm of Focus on the Family. But like most of their comments, it's a dud. Trying to paint the Thomas Fordham Institute as "elitist ‘think tank’, with left-wing funding and an agenda"
is just absurd, especially for anyone who knows anything about them. Lauri talks about that as well!

Thanks Lauri for another insightful column! So when is the next book coming out? :-)

In case you don't remember, Lauri is the author of the excellent book "The Devil in Dover: Dogma v. Darwin in Small-Town America", a book about the 2005 trial of Kitzmiller v. Dover in which intelligent design was ruled creationism by a conservative judge.

You know, maybe folks like the Liberty Institute and the Discovery Institute should try and appeal to more Liberal organizations. They sure aren't having much luck with Conservative ones. I mean the Thomas Fordham Institute and Judge Jones are both Conservatives. Just a fun thought.

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