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.
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.