At least we can agree on one thing: let’s not rewrite history.
But that appears to be all that the right-wing members on the Texas
State Board of Education want to do. We’ve already been through this
once with the Texas science standards last year, and now they want to
use our social studies classes as the newest platform to push their
It all began when the board selected well-known Religious Right
activists to sit on the six-member social studies curriculum review
panel: David Barton of Wallbuilders and Peter Marshall of Peter
Marshall Ministries. Barton, who has no credentials as a historian,
runs a propaganda organization that issues a steady stream of books,
videos, DVDs, pamphlets and other materials designed to “prove” the
United States was founded to be Christian country.
Marshall is a traveling evangelist who authored The Light and the
Glory, a book used to teach history to home-schoolers in which he
claims America has been a Christian nation since colonial days.
Both claim church-state separation does not exist in America and now
they have recommended that their version of American history – which
teaches that America is a Christian nation — be taught to Texas
I don’t think that’s a good idea, and neither do most historians.
Yet this week, several members of the board continue to push this
agenda. Yesterday, the board voted not to teach our Founding Fathers’
true thoughts on religious liberty.
The Texas Freedom Network, which has been live blogging from the board meetings in Texas, reported this:
“Today, the Texas State Board of Education voted to reject an amendment
to social studies curriculum standards that would require students to
learn that the nation’s Founders “protected religious freedom by
barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular
religion over all others.” The party-line vote — 10 Republicans against
and 5 Democrats in favor of the amendment — strips away any pretense
that this board respects one of the most important freedoms enshrined
in the U.S. Constitution.”
Talk about revisionist history! Now our students won’t even know where
the First Amendment came from and why it is so important to protect the
beliefs – and nonbeliefs – of ALL Americans.
And let’s not forget that the same board members also want to rewrite
the civil rights movement and minimize its importance in American
history. There have been proposed changes that would minimize efforts
by ethnic minorities and women to win economic opportunities and
In fact, one board member, Don McLeroy, gave instruction to curriculum
writing teams to make it clear that “it wasn’t minorities that got the
Civil Rights Act; it was the majority that did it.”
If it were up to this board, they would leave out the part where
minority groups put pressure on Congress and the President to pass this
act – including the March on Washington. Several civil rights groups in
Texas have written to the Texas State Board of Education to not ignore
the role minorities played in securing civil rights for all.
It’s really a shame that all this is even being considered. I just hope
when all is said and done, the Board members do the right thing. They
are scheduled to adopt the final standards by May 21, so there is still
time. By the end of this week, though, the side of real history is obviously going to have an uphill battle.