Tuesday, May 25, 2010
A Brief History Of The Textbook Wars
Napoleon is quoted as saying, “History is written by the victors.
This was never truer than on March 12, 2010, when the Texas Board of Education voted 10 to 5 in favor of curriculum standards that would promote the conservative's take on controversial issues in the pages of the state’s textbooks. The changes were expected to win final approval in May, include an increased emphasis on and sympathetic treatment of such Republican touchstones as the National Rifle Association and the Moral Majority. They also tout the superiority of capitalism and the role of Christianity in the nation’s founding. Even Thomas Jefferson’s profile will be diminished; some board members were less than found of his ideas about the separation of church and state.
This is not Texans’ first such skirmish. Since the 1970’s, the state has tried to drop books that were seen as too liberal or anti-Christian, to omit passages on gay rights movement and to tone down global warming arguments.
But the nation’s battle over textbooks stretches back almost half a century earlier. Other states in the past have done much the same thing:
In 1924, North Carolina bans two textbooks that discuss Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
In 1925, Tennessee’s Butler Act, (which was repealed in 1967,) made it illegal to teach “Any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as told in the Bible.” The Scopes “Monkey Trial” famously followed.
In 1947 The University of Wyoming investigates some textbooks thoughts to contain communist messages.
In 1974, a clash erupted in Kanawha County, West Virginia, over the controversial writings of such authors as George Orwell, Arthur Miller and Allen Ginsberg. Opposition was so heated that some schools were firebombed with dynamite and Molotov cocktails.
Of course one of my favorites was in 1983 when concerned parents in Tennessee sued the Hawkins County school system for shelving the “Satan Oriented” stories such as, “The Three Little Pigs” and “Goldilocks And The Three Bears.” Yes thoughs two books were Devil Worshiping!!!
Even as recently in 2007 where Naperville, Ill., school district approves a controversial science textbook with inaccurate material on contraception.
This past weekend I was listening to a talk radio show that was interviewing one of these Texas Board of Education members. Below are a few of his statements made on the show:
“At the forming of our nation, our founding fathers wanted to invade and take over Texas by sea and add it as the 14th original colony and locate the nation’s capital in Texas.”
“The Texas Constitution is much better than the United States Constitution because when it was written; the founders of Texas had the benefit of hindsight.”
“Texas should return back to “Hanging to Death”, or the “Firing Squad” instead of the “Lethal Injection” method for carrying out a death sentence because the other two would be a better deterrent for such crimes that would receive the death sentence.”
“Sam Houston was a much better leader than George Washington because he was up against much bigger odds.”
This Texas Board of Education member went on and on with statements like the examples above and the radio interviewing host was stunned in amazement that this person, officially representing the Texas School Board, was making these so inaccurate statements as if they were undisputed facts on a national radio show.
As one of the America’s largest textbook buyers, the Longhorn State has a good deal of sway over what is peddled to other schools nationwide. There is hope that as the rest of the more sane States that make up the rest of our Union will review and find the blinding inaccurate faults in what the Texas Board of Education has promoted for their state. Maybe then their only accomplishments will be exposing the stupidity and ignorance that is within the members of the Texas Board of Education.