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Texas Schools Board Rewriting US History 1238

Posted by kdawson
from the nation-chosen-by-god dept.
suraj.sun picked up a Guardian (UK) piece on the Texas school board and their quest to remake US education in a pro-American, Christian, free enterprise mode. We've been keeping an eye on this story for some time, as it will have an impact far beyond Texas. From the Guardian: "The board is to vote on a sweeping purge of alleged liberal bias in Texas school textbooks in favor of what Dunbar says really matters: a belief in America as a nation chosen by God as a beacon to the world, and free enterprise as the cornerstone of liberty and democracy. ... Those corrections have prompted a blizzard of accusations of rewriting history and indoctrinating children by promoting right-wing views on religion, economics, and guns while diminishing the science of evolution, the civil rights movement, and the horrors of slavery. ... Several changes include sidelining Thomas Jefferson, who favored separation of church and state, while introducing a new focus on the 'significant contributions' of pro-slavery Confederate leaders during the Civil War. ... Study of Sir Isaac Newton is dropped in favor of examining scientific advances through military technology."
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Texas Schools Board Rewriting US History

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  • 1984 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by emperortux (1503859) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @05:25PM (#32230166)
    "He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future."
  • WTF (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wisnoskij (1206448) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @05:32PM (#32230226) Homepage

    They can do that?
    They are not even trying to cover up that they are trying to indoctrinate everyone: "Dunbar says really matters: a belief in America as a nation chosen by God as a beacon to the world, and free enterprise as the cornerstone of liberty and democracy."

    • Two words ... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Evil Pete (73279) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @10:09PM (#32232212) Homepage

      Manifest Destiny ... look it up. Think of it as a democratic jihad. Not a good idea. The British had a similar notion: The White Man's Burden. Well meaning ideas that just result in a lot misfortune.

    • by SlappyBastard (961143) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @10:30PM (#32232340) Homepage
      Why do you think the GOP is tearing itself apart? Free enterprise is an entirely different religion than Jesusitude. Seriously, read Ayn Rand.
  • by Inbred_Weasel (1007819) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @05:33PM (#32230236)

    Of course it is absurd that the Texas school board is even considering such changes, but it really is up to the people of Texas to fix their school board.

    On the other hand, if an education in Texas gets bad enough, universities and employers might start to pass over applicants from Texas because they are under qualified. This seems like a good thing as it is basically the free market sorting out the educated from the ignorant.

  • FrostPeas (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @05:41PM (#32230294)

    Zero comments after most of a day? Really?

    Okay, I'll throw one down. Probably a bit OT, but WTF.

    I live in Arizona, ground zero for this crap. I had an interesting conversation about Our State Issues this week.

    And I left there thinking:

    The problem is not the 25% hardcore dipshits who will always lean this way. Nothing can be done to help them.

    The problem is the 30% of otherwise kind, intelligent, educated people who because of some flaw in their heads find themselves thinking things like: "Hmmm, that Glenn Beck fella makes some good points."

    I wish there were more I could do to reach them, beyond conversing with them delicately and providing an alternative example by what I say and how I live my life. It will never be enough to turn the tide in the nation, or this state. Maybe not even enough to turn it in this town. But it's what I have. And hoping against hope, I'll keep going with it, and just pray to a god who doesn't exist that power ends up in the hands of better people.

    • Re:FrostPeas (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lucm (889690) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @06:59PM (#32230966)

      > The problem is not the 25% hardcore dipshits who will always lean this way. Nothing can be done to help them.

      In my opinion, the actual problem is that kind of statement. How come someone that does not agree with you should need help? What help? Letting them know that they are wrong and you are right? Don't you see that to them, you are the one that needs help?

      The purpose of democracy is not to be right or wrong. The purpose of democracy is to let people decide for themselves. And everywhere it works in the same way: a minority of people is leading the way while the majority is silently following. This is still consent, like it or not.

      Freedom is freedom. That includes freedom to choose God, Science, or both, and to influence public policy. If you want to impose your views without having other people trying to do the same, then what you need is not democracy, you need dictatorship.

      • Re:FrostPeas (Score:4, Insightful)

        by zaffir (546764) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @09:20PM (#32231898)

        This isn't about opinion. This is about facts. You are entitled to your own opinion, but YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO YOUR OWN FACTS.

        Calling the United States a "Christian" nation is demonstrably false. You may "believe" otherwise, but you are still WRONG.

        • Re:FrostPeas (Score:5, Insightful)

          by hedwards (940851) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @10:26PM (#32232312)
          That's the thing if you're delusional enough just about any opinion can become indistinguishable from fact. Such as death panels in the health care bill or Iraq being a war about terrorism, both are demonstrably false, but a bunch of nut jobs hang to it anyways to the bitter end.
          • Re:FrostPeas (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Phroggy (441) <{moc.yggorhp} {ta} {3todhsals}> on Sunday May 16, 2010 @11:06PM (#32232726) Homepage

            That's the thing if you're delusional enough just about any opinion can become indistinguishable from fact.

            If you're poorly educated and don't know how to think and apply critical reasoning, which describes a large percentage of the US population, then you probably have a poor grasp of the difference between opinion and fact, and can easily confuse the two.

            Such as death panels in the health care bill or Iraq being a war about terrorism, both are demonstrably false, but a bunch of nut jobs hang to it anyways to the bitter end.

            Once again, THESE ARE NOT OPINIONS.

            Would it be a good idea to set up government-run committees charged with rationing health care coverage to save money ("death panels")? Some people think it would; if we're to offer universal coverage, then without some restrictions in place, costs could easily explode and bankrupt the system. Other people think it wouldn't; there are other ways of effectively controlling costs without the government deciding when to pull the plug on Grandma. THESE ARE OPINIONS.

            Did any version of the health care reform bill recently passed by Congress and signed by President Obama call for establishing these "death panels"? Some people think so; several prominent politicians tried to warn the public that the bill contained such a provision. Other people don't think so; there was a section of the bill dealing with end-of-life care, but it was about conversations between doctors, patients and patients' families about what options are available, not about a government-run panel and there was nothing about encouraging euthanasia. THESE ARE NOT OPINIONS.

        • Re:FrostPeas (Score:4, Insightful)

          by geoffrobinson (109879) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @10:56PM (#32232632) Homepage

          Given the fact that our federal system of government was heavily influenced by Presbyterian form of church government, I would say that depends on what you mean by "Christian nation."

          Theocracy? No. Heavily influenced by Christian values and thought? Yes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @05:42PM (#32230310)

    "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion..."

    --Treaty of Tripoly [wikipedia.org]

    Ratified by the Senate, signed by President John Adams in 1797.

    I hope that clears things up for these right wing wackos who are confused about our founding fathers' intentions. I hope to see this quote up on a sidebar in the next issue of their books.

    • by spartacus_prime (861925) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @08:08PM (#32231418) Homepage
      John Adams? What did he do, he was only President for one term! He didn't write the Declaration of Independence, or go overseas as one of our first major diplomats. That was Jesus, all Jesus!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @09:31PM (#32231986)

      No it doesn't clear anything up but your misinterpretation of the Treaty. If you actually read all of the wikipedia information you would have seen this too.

      ("According to Frank Lambert, Professor of History at Purdue University, the assurances in Article 11 were "intended to allay the fears of the Muslim state by insisting that religion would not govern how the treaty was interpreted and enforced. John Adams and the Senate made clear that the pact was between two sovereign states, not between two religious powers.)

      If you actually were taught your history correctly all our founding fathers were religious men. Some deeply religious (Samuel Adams for one.) But they believed all religions should be allowed to be practiced without persecution. (Constitution of the US 1st Amendment.) Since history is not your strong suit let me help you with this. The pilgrims came over here because of religious persecution from the Church of England. When the founding fathers wrote all of our laws they made sure this could not happen again, as well as, made sure we would not be ruled over again.
      Our country is based on the people voting for who they believe will do what they want to be accomplished. We don't work for the government they work for us.

      But most of America has forgotten all of the above and are no longer being taught it in school. Instead they say how they were all slave owners (Again not true), and they were all agnostics. In fact the original Declaration of Independence stated the following. "Life, Liberty, and Property" but it was changed to "the Pursuit of Happiness" because they didn't want the southern slave owners to argue that the slaves were property. In fact, I believe it was John Adams that said (roughly) if we do not fight this battle now (In regards to slavery) we will fight it again in 100 yrs.
      Funny enough he was right and we fought the civil war under Lincoln (He was an evil republican by the way. lol)

      Thomas Jefferson was not religious but he did believe in a Creator. He is the writer of the Declaration of Independence. You know that paper that says,
      "We hold these truths to be self evident. That all men are created equal and endowed by their CREATOR with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

      As for the other comments about gun control do you know why each amendment was written exactly how they are? Apparently not.

      The 2nd Amendment was to ensure we as a people would never again be ruled over, or invaded by another country.

      I could go on and on as to the true reason all the 1st 10 amendments of the constitution were written, but if you aren't interested in it why should I bother. It seems to me everyone wants to "Interpret" the amendments to what suits them, when the original writers themselves wrote what they meant them to be.

      The founding fathers weren't these career politicians we have now that write laws that they can't even understand. The Bill of Rights was written in plain English so NO ONE could misinterpret it! Just like John Hancock's signature on the Declaration of Independence was to ensure King George was able to read his signature without his glasses on.

      We may need to interpret the laws created since the original Constitution was written, but the Bill of Rights is not up for interpretation it just is. They are rights given to us from above not from man.

      We do not give rights to each other. We are born with those rights and no one has the right to take them from us.

      I'm merely a history buff tired of hearing all this BS about what the founding fathers were, what they meant when they wrote our country's most important documents, etc,etc, etc...

      This is from wikipedia in regards to the Bill of Rights.

      Thomas Jefferson, at the time serving as Ambassador to France, wrote to Madison advocating a Bill of Rights: "Half a loaf is better than no bread. If we cannot secure all our rights, let us secure what we can."[12] George Mason refused to sign the proposed Constitution, in part to protest its lack of a Bill of Rights.[13]

      See the full write up here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Bill_of_Rights

      • by Cassius Corodes (1084513) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @10:52PM (#32232586)

        We may need to interpret the laws created since the original Constitution was written, but the Bill of Rights is not up for interpretation it just is. They are rights given to us from above not from man. We do not give rights to each other. We are born with those rights and no one has the right to take them from us.

        I'm sure you are taking a bit of artistic licence when you say this - but I think it disservice to the great achievement that man really did give each other these rights (not anyone above). This is an incredibly important point that we should be very much proud of. Secondly its unrealistic to expect the applications of the bill of rights to be obvious in all situations, which is why they are interpreted by the courts. Note that many things we take for granted about them (such as them applying to states as well as federal Govt.) were not originally intended.

        It seems to me everyone wants to "Interpret" the amendments to what suits them, when the original writers themselves wrote what they meant them to be.

        And I assume you are the go-to man for this :P ? Everyone complains about judicial activism only when it goes against their ideas, but in reality because the bill of rights is not 3000 pages long and list every possible situation any adaptation to a novel situation will be an interpretation. Given that the constitution itself specifies for this to occur I cannot imagine that it goes against any founding father intent.

      • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Monday May 17, 2010 @02:23AM (#32234030)

        If you actually were taught your history correctly all our founding fathers were religious men. Some deeply religious

        How is that relevant? Are you one of those people who talks about "Jew-movies"?

        Or, to put it a different way, even if the entirety of the creation team of a "X" are Wiccans, does that make X Wiccan automatically? Wouldn't it need to relate to Wicca in some way first?

        ) Since history is not your strong suit let me help you with this. The pilgrims came over here because of religious persecution from the Church of England. When the founding fathers wrote all of our laws they made sure this could not happen again, as well as, made sure we would not be ruled over again.

        The Pilgrams came over here because they didn't want to live in Amsterdam... the reason they went from England to Amsterdam was to avoid the CoE's persecution. They then enacted laws requiring relgious conformity that went orders of magnitude further than the CoE's did, eventually driving people to "Rogue's Island" (Now Rhodes Island).

        In other words, hardly the best role models. They did a good job protecting us from witches however.

        . In fact the original Declaration of Independence stated the following. "Life, Liberty, and Property" but it was changed to "the Pursuit of Happiness" because they didn't want the southern slave owners to argue that the slaves were property. In fact, I believe it was John Adams that said (roughly) if we do not fight this battle now (In regards to slavery) we will fight it again in 100 yrs.

        Locke wrote "property". When the Founding Fathers cribbed him, they used "Pursuit of Happiness". Slavery was explicitly tabled for some number of years, a strategic decision without which there would be no USA now... maybe morally dubious, but the country needed to be cohesive before it could address the situation.

        I could go on and on as to the true reason all the 1st 10 amendments of the constitution were written, but if you aren't interested in it why should I bother. It seems to me everyone wants to "Interpret" the amendments to what suits them, when the original writers themselves wrote what they meant them to be... The Bill of Rights was written in plain English so NO ONE could misinterpret it!

        The Bill of Rights is vague, and requires interpretation. How do you define a "reasonable" search? What makes a punishment "cruel"? "unusual"? To what type of council are you entitled? What does it mean to "establish religion"? What type of arms can be born and how regulated must the militia be?

        And, I fail to see the "misinterpretation" you purport to concerning the treaty.

  • Why omit Newton? (Score:5, Informative)

    by izomiac (815208) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @05:46PM (#32230340) Homepage
    I'm wondering why omit Newton, he was a very devout Christian. One of his greatest regrets was not making a theological breakthrough that matched his scientific discoveries. Heck, he was also a strong advocate of maintaining virginity (perhaps too strongly, he died a virgin and reputedly call that his greatest accomplishment).
  • by six11 (579) <johnsogg.cmu@edu> on Sunday May 16, 2010 @07:21PM (#32231124) Homepage

    No slashdot discussion of the stupidity of textbooks would be complete without a reference to Richard Feynman's little thing on the horribleness of how textbooks get approved [textbookleague.org]. Spoilers: it involves sex, lies, bribery, political cronyism, plagiarism, and other delicious things.

  • by drfireman (101623) <dan AT kimberg DOT com> on Sunday May 16, 2010 @07:22PM (#32231140) Homepage

    Is there an easy way to find schools with curricula that are less dependent on what happens in Texas? I mean, without having to read hundreds of textbooks and do lots of gruesomely painful research on my own (I get enough of that in my day job).

  • No Effect (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OrangeTide (124937) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @09:15PM (#32231848) Homepage Journal

    I was indoctrinated with a liberal public education full of PC bullshit. And the only effect it had on me was a contempt for those who would push their agendas onto me. I ended up being somewhere between libertarian and conservative, with a strong feeling that the state should neither support nor suppress religious beliefs. I'm an atheist myself, but realize that religion is very important to many people. And atheist conservative, I suppose I challenge the narrow view political labels has taken in the last few decades. But I suggest that perhaps it was the Christian Right that made state religion part of a "conservative" platform.

    If Texas wants to eliminate liberal bias and insert some neoconservative/christian right bias then so be it. The ideals of neocons and christian right are generally incompatible and it has fractured the Republican Party for many decades. Likely students will see the contradictions and the hypocrisy and make their own choices. With the wild Internet providing easy access to information, and the culture of this new generation being very open and honest about their beliefs (even though they are often outlandishly liberal) I have little doubt in my mind that students will overcome this minor obstacle in propaganda tainted education. The kids who aren't critical thinkers and fall prey to such propaganda would have fallen anyways, to the Church or to social pressures. They are the causalities of our society, and will be integrated into society as taxpayers and ineffective voters.

    It's not like Americans haven't had to face insane propaganda mixed in their education. From Commies to Political Correctness, we over came the bullshit.

    • Re:No Effect (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hedwards (940851) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @10:31PM (#32232366)
      Yes, but we're supposed to have learned something from it. Rather than repeat the same racist, bigoted bullshit that we supposedly over come. The whole war on terror thing is terrifyingly similar to things that were done only a few decades earlier. Perhaps not purposely constructing curriculum to convince people of things which are known to be wrong is a bad idea. There's enough BS in the coursework without doing so on purpose.

      The problem is that most Americans aren't critical thinkers, and it's up to those with some capacity to fix things so that the information is at least accurate and as balanced as possible.
    • Re:No Effect (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MightyMartian (840721) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @10:35PM (#32232406) Journal

      Tell me, is teaching biological evolution teaching liberal bias?

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @10:11PM (#32232218)

    You know, back when it was the US and the Republic of Texas?

  • Good, let them (Score:4, Interesting)

    by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy&tpno-co,org> on Sunday May 16, 2010 @10:25PM (#32232306) Homepage

    I'm all for this. If they want to diminish science and taint history, let 'em.

    That'll give my child that much bigger of an advantage in about 15 years when she's applying for jobs. She'll understand the scientific method. She'll know her history. She'll be well educated, while the children from texas will believe that there is no USSR/soviet union.

    This works for me.

    • by jeko (179919) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:35AM (#32233456)

      Grasshoppa,

      Where do you think your child will be living in 15 years? The problem with your "my-kid-will-be-one-eyed-in-the-land-of-the-blind" theory is that those blind people all get a vote on where to point the steering wheel. When they vote to drive the car off a cliff, your daughter and mine will be trapped in the car with them.

      Sure, maybe her superior education will make her captain of the ship, but that's not gonna help her much when the crew starts setting explosives against the hull down in the hold because "metal ships are not mentioned in the Bible and are therefore an abomination before the Lord..."

      You're arguing that an educated woman in Afghanistan is doing great because she's more employable than the Taliban.

  • by jeko (179919) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @10:32PM (#32232378)

    Reasonable discussion isn't going to cut it any more. A woman who home-schooled her children because, and I'm quoting exactly here, sending them to public education would be "throwing them into the enemy's flames," i.e. damning them to Hell, has gotten some control over the Texas Board of Education. It's time to unleash the awesome power of ridicule.

    Seriously. Look at the proposed changes from the article:

    • ...sidelining Thomas Jefferson, who favoured separation of church and state, while introducing a new focus on the "significant contributions" of pro-slavery Confederate leaders during the civil war.
    • Study of Sir Isaac Newton is dropped in favour of examining scientific advances through military technology.
    • a suggestion that the anti-communist witch-hunt by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s may have been justified.
    • One curriculum amendment describes the civil rights movement as creating "unrealistic expectations of equal outcomes" among minorities.
    • ...drop[ping] references to the slave trade in favour of calling it the more innocuous "Atlantic triangular trade"
    • Two years ago, [Dunbar] published a book, One Nation Under God, in which she argued that the United States was ultimately governed by the scriptures.
    • Dunbar says these are important steps to overturning what she believes is the myth of a separation between church and state in the US.
    • Among the advisers the board brought in to help rewrite the curriculum is David Barton, the leader of WallBuilders which seeks to promote religion in history. Barton has campaigned against the separation of church and state. He argues that income tax should be abolished because it contradicts the bible.

    These are not the crackpot fringe. These are people in charge of educating the children of one of the country's largest populations, and who influence education thoughout the country.

    We're beyond rational discussion here. Reasonable debate only works when both sides are intellectually honest. How about we begin with Harvard, Princeton, Caltech and MIT dropping all applications from students educated in Texas out of hand? I mean, surely no REAL American would want to send their kid to California or the bastions of the Liberal Elite to be educated?

  • by OutSourcingIsTreason (734571) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @10:33PM (#32232382)
    It's time for the US to give Texas back to Mexico. This will solve many problems, such as: (1) lying textbooks, (2) warmongering presidents, (3) Mexicans illegally streaming across the border for jobs, and (4) country and western music.
  • by dbIII (701233) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @10:34PM (#32232390)
    It wasn't just Jefferson that wanted to seperate Church and State, there was this guy called Jesus that said "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's".
    Then again, we're dealing with merchants in the temple here.
    A big clue about whether your Church is about worshipping money and power instead of anything else is their attitude to the poor and homeless. The ironic thing is such wide ranging heresy which could not exist without tolerance is incredibly intolerant.
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @10:38PM (#32232440) Homepage Journal

    Texas: "We must close the ignorance gap with Kansas!"

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Sunday May 16, 2010 @11:58PM (#32233174) Journal

    When you leave it up to the government to decide what to teach everybody's kids, sometimes the people who get to decide what to teach your kids are going to be wrong.

    -jcr

How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else. -- R. Buckminster Fuller

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