Mike the Mad Biologist

Thankfully, in principle, it’s reversible. The Texas State Board of Education has approved new history standards. Because Texas is a major book buyer, this will have far-reaching effects on the curricula of other states (I haven’t been able to find out if this will affect Massachusetts. Intelligent Designer, I hope not). The proposed changes (pdf) are farcial to anyone in the Coalition of the Sane–which, unfortunately, excludes the majority of the Board of Education. While they haven’t released the final adoptions, what the Board sent for review is absurd. You can’t read a single page without encountering far-right lunacy. Others have noted that the new standards whitewash slavery:

Several changes include 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.

And my favorite:

The education board has dropped references to the slave trade in favour of calling it the more innocuous “Atlantic triangular trade”…

The entire document is Orwellian. Here are some selections from the 11th grade curriculum, which is from 1877 to the present (and, yes, “post-Reconstruction” was removed). From the economics portion on p. 72:

(2) Citizenship. The student understands the rights and responsibilities of businesses in the U.S. free enterprise system. The student is expected to:
(B) analyze the consequences of an economic decision made by a business;
(C) analyze the ethics policy of a selected business;

Wait! That sounds good! Erm, they cut that section. Moving along to page 74 for all you goldbugs (this was added):

(D) analyze the decline in value of the U.S. dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard.

This is insane. But even better, the Uruk-hai also crap all over science by removing all of this–Science we just can’t quit you (p. 78):

Science, technology, and society. The student understands the effects of science and technology on an economy. The student is expected to:

(A) analyze the effect of technology on productivity;
(B) analyze the economic effects of the development of communication and transportation systems in the United States;
(C) analyze the economic impact of obsolescence created by technological innovations; and
(D) analyze how technological innovations change the way goods are manufactured, marketed, and distributed.

(27) Science, technology, and society. The student understands the economic effects of scientific discoveries and technological innovations on households, businesses, and government. The student is expected to:

(A) give examples of types of economic information available as a result of technological innovations; and
(B) explain how scientific discoveries and technological innovations create the need for rules and regulations to protect individuals and businesses.

In fact, most economic history is removed, and replaced with “personal finance”, except for adding Hayek. Of course, the labor movement is purged from the document. Also, here’s just a little taste of the subtle historical revisionism that permeates the document (p. 5):

The student is expected to:

analyze causes and effects of events and social issues , including such as immigration, Social Darwinism, race relations, nativism, the Red Scare, Prohibition, and the changing role of women.

I wrote “subtle” because this is a downgrade: “including” means it must be covered, while “such as” are only potential examples. Let’s be frank: these ‘standards’ are Lynne Cheney’s wet dream.

Check them out (pdf), and then help elect some sane people to the Texas State Board of Education–because this could also make your kids stupid too.

Comments

  1. #1 Laurent Weppe
    May 20, 2010

    MMM, I’ve been looking around, but there is a piece of info I cannot get: the board members are elected officials, right? So what is the turnout of those elections: are the insane members elected thanks to a low turnout that allow the most extremist voters to decide who gets elected, or are they elected with a high turnout?

  2. #2 mxh
    May 20, 2010

    I keep on saying this, we can’t easily change Texas, but we can boycott the publishers who give in to the crazies of Texas. Losing millions of dollars in college textbook sales may make them seriously reconsider rewriting history.

  3. #3 BaldApe
    May 20, 2010

    What if major universities boycotted Texas high school graduates? Didn’t a number of universities say that they would seriously question the credentials of someone with a Kansas diploma after evolution was removed from their curriculum standards?

  4. #4 dean
    May 20, 2010

    @#2: I think I read that there is a proposal in California to do something similar: not use any textbook that meets Texas’ so-called “standards”. I have no idea how feasible, or possible, that would be.

  5. #5 mxh
    May 20, 2010

    #3, yeah that’s another idea, but unfair to the students (who knows, some of them could actually learn real history and science on their own).

    #4, boycotting the textbook is not good enough, other states and colleges should boycott the publishers so that they lose a lot of money if they actually make the textbook in the first place… I’m sure Texas can find some company to make textbooks for them, but it’ll cost the state more and they’ll lose out on high-quality textbooks, in addition other states won’t get hurt by it.

  6. #6 John Sanders
    May 21, 2010

    Perhaps they will also mandate showing that excelent docmentery on slavery, The Song Of The South.

  7. #7 Rebecca Bell-Metereau
    May 21, 2010

    There was a large demonstration and a press conference on Wednesday and everyone is asking the board to delay approval of the revisions and turn it back to experts and the original review committee. It is clear that the board should “take a step back, take a deep breath, and try to pick up the pieces,” according to Representative Martinez Fisher, Chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus. We need to send this document back to the curriculum committees and craft the best curriculum we can create. We need a change, which is why I’m running for SBOE in District 5 against Ken Mercer, a man who is almost as conservative as creationist dentist Don McLeroy.

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