This story just popped up on the front page of NYT:


This is some scary shit.

Christian conservatives trying to legislate ignorance from the top down yet again.

The question is what can be done about this heinous warping of reality in education?


The article runs to 10 pages, but here is an exerpt:


When they proclaim that the United States is a “Christian nation,” they are not referring to the percentage of the population that ticks a certain box in a survey or census but to the country’s roots and the intent of the founders… some activists decided that the time was right to try to reshape the history that children in public schools study. Succeeding at this would help them toward their ultimate goal of reshaping American society. As Cynthia Dunbar, another Christian activist on the Texas board, put it, “The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next."


McLeroy (Chair of Texas School Board) is a robust, cheerful and inexorable man….“I consider myself a Christian fundamentalist,” he announced almost as soon as we sat down. He also identifies himself as a young-earth creationist who believes that the earth was created in six days, as the book of Genesis has it, less than 10,000 years ago. He went on to explain how his Christian perspective both governs his work on the state board and guides him in the current effort to adjust American-history textbooks to highlight the role of Christianity. “Textbooks are mostly the product of the liberal establishment, and they’re written with the idea that our religion and our liberty are in conflict,” he said. “But Christianity has had a deep impact on our system. The men who wrote the Constitution were Christians who knew the Bible. Our idea of individual rights comes from the Bible. The Western development of the free-market system owes a lot to biblical principles.”


For McLeroy, separation of church and state is a myth perpetrated by secular liberals. “There are two basic facts about man,” he said. “He was created in the image of God, and he is fallen. You can’t appreciate the founding of our country without realizing that the founders understood that. For our kids to not know our history, that could kill a society. That’s why to me this is a huge thing.”


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I was talking to a professor the other day about "liberal bias". Basically, conservatives think a student should swallow anything a teacher says--so if a teacher happens to have a liberal view, conservatives think that the students, if they're paying attention, will accept it at face value. It's one thing to have a teacher who has opinions, whether liberal or conservative. It's another to have them presented as fact.

I read about this and it's amazing how unabashedly racist the whole thing is. If these really are the next generation of textbooks, I imagine kids will be even more cynical of school, and pay less attention. It probably will cause more rebellion too.
I think you have a point here. Their implicit assumption is that whoever controls what is in the textbooks can shape the minds of young people. It is up to young people to show them they are wrong...
Here is an interview with McElroy done by the Toronto Globe and Mail. I am posting this in it's entirety because of the requirment for online registration etc. that may annoy some.

From Saturday's Globe and Mail Published on Friday, Mar. 26, 2010 7:43PM EDT Last updated on Friday, Mar. 26, 2010 8:15PM EDT

'They want to make it look like we are dumb morons'

The Texas Board of Education is adjusting its curriculum to reflect conservative values. How do they deal with backlash from those ‘dadgummit' leftists?
Speaking of Biblical principles, didn't your committee delete reference to Thomas Jefferson, who actually talked about the separation of church and state?
That's not true. Look, down here there are these groups from the far left. Whatever we do, they want to make it look like we are dumb morons. They're very effective, dadgummit. Jefferson's name was taken out of a list of Enlightenment philosophers in world history because he didn't fit the period of the Enlightenment.

Exuuuuse me?????!!!

Did you have trouble with Jefferson's views about the separation of church and state?
No, that's wrong. We're not against the separation of church and state. But now we've gone so far to the other side you can't even have a prayer at a football game. You know, some schools barred the use of red and green at Christmas time because they don't want to be promoting religion. You see how ridiculous this is.

There's so much contradiction here it's not even funny! Now I agree the whole red/green thing is a little silly, but for the most part..prayer at a football game...well if it's a public school, then of course there should be no prayer there, because it's a freakin' public, government sanctioned institution!

That's also where the word liberal comes from, meaning free man and free-thinking. But that's not a very popular word in Texas.
Well, I'm not so upset with liberals. But when you get way off to the left, that’s what I don't like.

And when you go even further right, it's just as bad!

Do you believe it's the role of schools to teach American pride or patriotism?
Well, we have added a statement about American exceptionalism. I think that's a good standard. United States values have made us different from most other countries. The American values I see in American exceptionalsim go back to the idea of limited government, importance of the individual, freedom of the individual and also just the sense of fair play. I think we've been very generous as a people. If we become like the rest of the world, and share the same world values, I think it would be a net loss to the world.

Individual freedoms and freedom of the individual...yeah...this Christian America loves to give those out like candy at halloween...Civil Rights Movement...In GOD We Trust...Gay rights...Reproduction Rights...Womens Rights...Stop me if you only end up with a few small pieces of candy!

Can you see it being a problem when Texas students go out into the world and meet people with a different understanding of your country?
No, no. If they're taught good accurate history, what difference will that make? But if you're talking about being taught socialist ideas versus free-enterprise ideas, then kids in Texas who are taught free-enterprise ideas will be better citizens. Then, when someone wants to nationalize health care, maybe they wouldn't vote for it.

If they're taught accurate history vs socialist ideas...As a victim graduate of the Texas public education system...gotta disagree there! I'm a pretty good citizen, even with my socialist ideals...cause anyone who thinks for themselves is a COMPLETE socialist..

You like to say that the United States is based on Judeo-Christian principles. But wouldn't Jesus have real problems with the free-enterprise system?
I think the key thing with Jesus in history is his idea to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's. There you've got separation of church and state.

In Dog We Trust and tax breaks for faith-based programs anyone?? Huge seperation there....

When I was a kid, I'd hear the statement by Jesus that it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. And I'd think, boy, are we in trouble.
Yeah, anyway, you know what I think's a useful standard we've put into world history that hasn't got a lot of attention? We have a standard that says students should explain the Arab rejection of Israel as a cause for ongoing conflict. I don't think you'd hear President Bush or President Obama make that statement. But it's an accurate statement. I mean Israel tried to recognize Palestinians, but you've never seen any serious statement about that by Palestinian groups.

Nice bullet dodge there senior rightwing...

Do you think there's been a pro-Arab bias by the teachers in the schools?
Absolutely. Yeah. I see a real bias in our country all the time. I'm really disappointed by how a lot of world-history books don't emphasize the importance of the rise of monotheism going back to Abraham 4,000 years ago.

Probably because it belongs (and is focused) in the mythology section....just sayin *angelic face*

Do you think the changes you've made will lead to a rise in educational performance in Texas schools?
I think the key for getting better education is to have good teachers in the classroom. Whatever we can do to get good teachers, the better.

An actual cirriculum wouldn't hurt either...taught by teachers who aren't rightwing nuts...

In the free-enterprise system, all you have to do is you pay them more. Is that going to happen?
I think that'd be good. But that's another conversation

In otherwords, probably not...

It's too early in the morning for me to tear this apart bit by bit, I'll let someone more daylight, and politically inclined to do that lol.
"Christian conservatives trying to legislate ignorance from the top down yet again."

There's no trying, it passed. This is sad for our country and it's children. There needs to be a large gathering of ideas and more people like us to get a ball rolling to stop this.

Cynthia Dunbar is right with one thing, today's classroom is tomorrow's government and tomorrow's voters. For them to turn the classroom into a propaganda machine to churn out more ignorant followers is not only wrong, but dangerous.

They can't just erase Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King Jr. and think they can get away with it.



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