Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thomas who?

It's a slippery slope my principal once said, glaring at me after I punched a classmate in the stomach for making fun of my nearly blind friend. Clearly, he was exaggerating. I am happy to say I haven't punched a kid in the stomach since that day.
After hearing what's been in the news the past week, I am left to wonder if that old saying doesn't carry some weight...
The big headline that stood out to me was the Texas Board of Education's ruling on the contents of history textbooks.
Here's why this really irks me. The Texas Board of Education is the nation's largest board and many textbook publishers and authors cater to their decisions and needs since they have such heavy buying power. Apparently, they have some guidelines for what their kids will be learning about regarding their own country's history.
For example:
Thomas Jefferson is to be entirely removed from textbooks. Apparently the whole separation of church and state doesn't sit well with the Texans, or maybe they have something against our founding fathers, or the third president, or...history in general.
The Civil Rights movement “unrealistic expectations of equal outcomes” among minorities. Yeah, why shouldn't you expect a person with a different skin color to have a separate drinking fountain? While we're at it, let's make boys and girls take different buses - they have coodies.
To avoid exposing students to “transvestites, transsexuals and who knows what else,” the Board will refer to “sex and gender as social constructs.”
Emphasize the superiorities of the “free-enterprise system” and the desirability of limited government.
"References to Ralph Nader and Ross Perot are proposed to be removed, while Stonewall Jackson, the Confederate general, is to be listed as a role model for effective leadership, and the ideas in Jefferson Davis’s inaugural address are to be laid side by side with Abraham Lincoln’s speeches." (quoted from the NY Times)

Sounds good huh? I discussed these decisions with my father who is a professor and also happens to write textbooks. He said that on the bright side, many teachers use the textbook as a guideline and teach what they want anyway. While this is somewhat reassuring, what happens when the kids who learned on these books get to teaching age? Or what happens when they read out of the book, which they're bound to do anyway? The slippery slope has these conservative Texans standing at the top of the hill with a garden hose, soaking our country's youth in the propaganda of right wing beliefs.
It seems odd to me that religious conservatives would backhand the monument of free will and forcibly push children towards ideologies while blatantly covering up the truth of history. "And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:32)
Oh, the sad irony that is religious conservatism...

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