Monday, March 15, 2010

Jefferson On The Outs In Texas Right-Wing Curriculum

Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase "separation between church and state." He has therefore been cut from a list of writers who inspired revolutions in the late 18th and 19th century. The Texas Board of Education, which approved a right-wing social studies curriculum, revised his standing in history. Hispanics are on the outs, too:

Efforts by Hispanic board members to include more Latino figures as role models for the state’s large Hispanic population were consistently defeated, prompting one member, Mary Helen Berlanga, to storm out of a meeting late Thursday night, saying, “They can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist.”

“They are going overboard, they are not experts, they are not historians,” she said. “They are rewriting history, not only of Texas but of the United States and the world.”

Civil rights legislation, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and McCarthyism are also being rewritten: amendment [stated that] students should study “the unintended consequences” of the Great Society legislation, affirmative action and Title IX legislation. amendment [was approved] stressing that Germans and Italians as well as Japanese were interned in the United States during World War II, to counter the idea that the internment of Japanese was motivated by racism.

Other changes seem aimed at tamping down criticism of the right. Conservatives passed one amendment, for instance, requiring that the history of McCarthyism include “how the later release of the Venona papers confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government.”

How about an amendment on religious freedom?

Mavis B. Knight, a Democrat from Dallas, introduced an amendment requiring that students study the reasons “the founding fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring the government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others.”

It was defeated on a party-line vote.

So with which historians, sociologists and economists did the conservative bloc consult?

There are seven members of the conservative bloc on the board, but they are often joined by one of the other three Republicans on crucial votes. There were no historians, sociologists or economists consulted at the meetings, though some members of the conservative bloc held themselves out as experts on certain topics.

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