Opinion: The Texas Board of Education = Historical Revisionists
Filed under: Opinions
On Friday March 12, the Texas Board of Education voted along party lines to make changes to its school curriculum that will reflect conservative values. The problem is that these 10 individuals in Texas are attempting to insert their personal beliefs into what should be a value neutral setting -- the American classroom.
Whether or not you hold the same beliefs as these individuals is irrelevant. Forcing a religious or political agenda onto the teaching of history and economics is not about "adding balance", as board member Dr. Don McLeroy, a dentist, put it. It is an attempt to establish an educational system where students learn what a small group of people want them to learn.
That's not balance.
The changes proposed by the Board are slanted in troubling ways. Even a seemingly simple edit can have a chilling effect. This is illustrated by just one of the proposed alterations reported by The New York Times. In a high school history class, students are currently asked to "describe Richard M. Nixon's role in the normalization of relations with China." The Board prefers the phrase "Richard M. Nixon's leadership." One word, and the tenor of the topic is distorted.
Some of these changes stem from the religious beliefs of the people on the Board who believe that America is a Christian nation, and that the lessons taught in our public schools should reflect that. Much has been written about what the Founding Fathers meant by certain passages of the Constitution, especially the idea of the separation of church and state. These are interesting and valid debates to have. In fact, they would be welcome topics in a classroom.
Sadly, these are debates that a majority of the Board -- let's call them The Texas Ten -- do not want to occur. They would like to remove Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers and our third President, from the curriculum, simply because he coined the phrase "separation of church and state."
How does that encourage freedom?
A free exchange of ideas is absolutely necessary for a free society to flourish. The individuals on the Texas Board of Education who want to ensure that children learn only a history that supports their beliefs are not interested in hearing what anyone else has to say. If you need further evidence of the biased views being touted, one need only read the words of Dr. McLeroy, who told Washington Monthly that he evaluates history textbooks based on their coverage of three topics -- Christianity, Israel and Ronald Reagan, "because he lowered taxes." In fact, Reagan raised taxes more than once; one can only imagine how that fact will be glossed over in Texas schools.
Even if these views represented a majority viewpoints of the United States of America, that wouldn't matter. History may be written by the winners, but it is still an academic discipline meant to study what happened. The notion of a group of people conspiring to present historical events so that they favor one side is something that one might have expected to see in tyrannical countries in decades gone by.
Except that it happened on Friday, in America.
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