Tag Archives: Texas Board of Education

The War On Education – Texas Style

We of Occupy World Writes share a lot of common goals and views. As is normal with any group of people though, each of us have subjects that fire us up more than others. One of the subjects that’s guaranteed to fire me up is the dumbing down and gutting of the public school system in America.

Back in April, we outlined the beginnings of what I referred to as the new idiocracy, and we’ve touched on the subject off and on since, most recently in regards to Jefferson County, Colorado and the school board’s attempt to make revisionist history the accepted curriculum. Today, we’ll take a look at what’s happening in a state well known for generating controversy over such matters; the great state of Texas.

TEAlogoTexas

Last Monday, petitions with more than 24,000 signatures from Texas residents were delivered to the Texas Board of Education and textbook publishing executives. The petitions call for the correction of errors in the way that climate change is covered in social studies textbooks presently under consideration. The errors include such things as claiming that scientists “do not agree” on the cause of climate change (97% of climate scientists agree that climate change is real, and that man is the major driver of such change), that there isn’t a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica caused by fossil fuel emissions (also false), and a quotation from a notorious climate change denial organization presented in rebuttal of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In a joint press release by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), the Texas Freedom Network and Climate Parents, NCSE’s Josh Rosenau said; “From the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters, teachers and school boards want textbooks that handle climate change  accurately, and they are watching to see which publishers fix these errors. These petitions show that parents, teachers, students, and voters across Texas will make sure the board doesn’t let these errors slip into their classrooms.”

Conservative groups, needless to say, are calling the NCSE and the others “activists” who want to censor the textbooks and stop healthy discussion on the issue. However, when I read through the articles promoting this point of view, I notice two things: 1) they’re all written by the same guy, H. Sterling Burnett, and 2) Mr. Burnett, among other things, is an advisor for the Energy, Natural Resources and Agricultural Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Yes- our supposed impartial op-ed writer works for our friends, the Koch brothers.

If these were the only issues with the books, it would be bad enough. However, they also have other “interesting” issues, such as questioning the separation of church and state, asserting that Moses was a major influence on the Constitution and our constitutional structure of government. and glossing over segregation and slavery, to name just a few.

Then, there’s the impact on other states. Texas has the largest public school system in the country and has strict standards for textbooks, so publishers tend to base their new textbooks around what Texas wants. Do we really want our children learning revisionist garbage?

The textbooks are given final consideration next month; up until then, the publishers can correct any errors pointed out to them. Hopefully, they’ll follow through and do so. Our children’s education depends on it.

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AP Hysteria

Picture by Rachel Zenzinger (@Zenzinger_AtoZ)

Picture by Rachel Zenzinger (@Zenzinger_AtoZ)

There’s a lot of things going on this country that bother us, as you’ve probably noticed by now. The defunding and dumbing down of the educational system by our conservative brethren has to be near the top of the list of things that get us going on a rant, though.  We did a piece on this earlier this year, as well as touched on it in numerous posts; it’s a subject we could probably write about every day.

The latest target of conservative activists is the new Advanced Placement U.S. history test and its 125-page “framework” of suggested classroom topics. Now, you’d think that this wouldn’t spark controversy; after all, the test and guidelines are produced by the College Board – a private company that produces the AP tests, the SAT and other standardized exams – and not some “big government” agency. So, why the outrage? Because, according to the critics, they aren’t teaching “American exceptionalism.”

The Republican National Committee denounced the new framework, claiming that the program depicts American colonists as “oppressors and exploiters while ignoring the dreamers and innovators who built our country.” Stanley Kurtz wrote in the National Review that the new curriculum “will effectively force American high schools to teach U.S. history from a leftist perspective.

“The origins of the new AP U.S. History framework are closely tied to a movement of left-leaning historians that aims to ‘internationalize’ the teaching of American history. The goal is to ‘end American history as we have known it’ by substituting a more ‘transnational’ narrative for the traditional account.”

The state of Texas, as is to be expected, agrees wholeheartedly with this position. Last week, the Texas Board of Education moved to ignore the AP’s new framework and continue teaching students as if they were taking the old test.

In Jefferson County, Colorado, the school district proposed setting up a curriculum review board. The proposal said that the committee would make sure that U.S. history materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights. Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law. Instructional materials should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage. Content pertaining to political and social movements in U.S. history should present balanced and factual treatments of the positions.”

This did not go over well with students and teachers at the district schools, who saw the proposal as an attempt to censor what was taught in school as well as teach revisionist history. Last Friday, teachers shut down two high schools for the day by calling in sick. On Monday, 250 students walked out of Evergreen High School. CBS Denver reported that yesterday, “approximately 500 students walked out at Arvada West High School and 400 at Arvada High School. Approximately 300 students walked out at Golden High School and about 200 students went to the school offices in connection with the protest.”

Occupy World Writes stands in solidarity with the students and teachers of Jefferson County. We have to wonder whether the people who are against the framework really think they’re doing our children a favor by having them learn revisionist history instead of what actually happened. A whitewashed version where our founding fathers were epitomes of perfection instead of the flawed human beings they actually were. Teaching about an imaginary dreamscape where free market economics and America are always right, instead of teaching about income inequality, slavery and the darker moments of America’s heritage.

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it…

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