I started this alternate blog with the intent of avoiding controversial topics. However, I don’t think that I can let this subject go.
Texas is a very important state when it comes to what is in textbooks. Not only in Texas, but around the country. Unlike most states, where local school districts decide which books to use, books in Texas must be approved at the state level. Being such a huge consumer of books, Texas is much-sought by text book publishers. Therefore, books are often skewed toward appealing to the Texas State Board of Education.
That, frankly, should scare you in light of just how that is done and who’s doing it.
Recently, for example, they banned the children’s picture book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? because one member mistakenly thought that the author of the picture book was also the author of a book called Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperitive of Liberation. Bill Martin, Jr., the author of Brown Bear, died in 2004. Prof. Bill Martin, who wrote Ethical Marxism, published his tome in 2008.
How did this come about? Apparently the web site book-selling web site borders.com listed the two Bill Martins as the same person.
Borders. Yes, folks. Not even looking at books, but taking a listing from a book store’s web site. How’s that for academic excellence?
That story alone should make one wonder whether these jokers have any business shaping the education (and critical thinking skills, research habits, etc.) of children.
However, this board is far more powerful than that.
Mariah Blake recently wrote an article for Washington Monthly that takes a look at just how the board works.
The way I evaluate history textbooks is first I see how they cover Christianity and Israel. Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan—he needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes.
That’s from Don McLeroy, who helps determine what text books will be allowed in Texas, and therefore what publishers will offer to the rest of the nation. So, those are his priorities. Not honesty, balance, critical thinking, etc.. He wants to make sure that the book presents his opinion as fact.
That isn’t education, people … that’s brainwashing.
A lot of noise is made about the alleged left-wing bias of school text books and public schools in general. This, though, is worse than bias. This is flagrant denial of the possibility of an alternate view.
Blake’s article is well worth taking the time to read. The Texas Right is going far beyond defending any realistic view of history, and simply rewriting it for their views. Civil rights leaders aren’t important, the New Deal isn’t a major event in US history, and you’d better not call the US a democratic nation. It’s a republican one.
Also from that article:
The ultraconservatives argued that they were too light on basics like grammar and too heavy on reading comprehension and critical thinking. “This critical-thinking stuff is gobbledygook,” grumbled David Bradley, an insurance salesman with no college degree, who often acts as the faction’s enforcer.
Indeed, they seem not to have any use for reading comprehension (or even picking up the book) or critical thinking. Simply reinforce their prejudices, that’s what the Texas Board wants.