Feature

Texas textbooks: A new version of history

The Texas Board of Education has approved a new curriculum that firmly puts a “conservative stamp” on American history.

Darwin was just the beginning, said James McKinley in The New York Times. Last week, the Texas Board of Education, long known for its skepticism of evolution, approved a new curriculum that firmly puts a “conservative stamp” on American history. Henceforth, textbooks will say that America is an “exceptional nation” founded on explicitly Christian values with a “republican” (not democratic) system of government and a “free-enterprise system” (not capitalism—too pejorative). The “separation of church and state,” textbooks will say, is not part of the Constitution. In more recent history, textbooks will teach that Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society initiatives had “unintended consequences,” and will celebrate the impact of the Reagan Revolution, anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly, the Moral Majority, and the National Rifle Association. “This would be funny if it weren’t so sad,” said Ta-Nehisi Coates in TheAtlantic.com. Texas buys so many textbooks that its school board has a huge influence on publishers around the nation, allowing a handful of ideologues to turn the textbook industry “into an arm of the radical right.”

Now you know how conservatives feel, said Phyllis Schlafly in Townhall.com. Generations of Americans have been raised on textbooks with a “virulent left-wing bias,” courtesy of the “liberal education establishment” that sets the curriculum in most states. The difference in Texas is that the school board is elected directly by the people, who are tired of their children getting daily lessons in “what’s wrong with America.” What really distresses liberals, said Chuck Norris in WorldNetDaily.com, is the prospect of children being taught that our nation was founded by men with strong “Judeo-Christian convictions.” Now, millions of children will understand the vital, shaping role that religion has played in the nation’s history.

Religion is indeed what this is about, said The Austin American-Statesman in an editorial. So determined was the board’s “radical majority” to advance a Christian agenda, they even excised Thomas Jefferson from a list of Enlightenment thinkers who inspired democratic revolutions. Jefferson may have written the Declaration of Independence, said The New York Times, but the board couldn’t forgive him for questioning the divinity of Christ, and for originating the phrase “separation of church and state.” The real victims of this pettiness are the students of Texas, who deserve a curriculum “chosen for its educational value, not politics or ideology.”

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