Texas conservatives screw history

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March 14 2010 7:04 AM

Texas conservatives screw history

I recently posted that Don McLeroy, a Texas conservative creationist buffoon on the State School Board of Education, lost his re-election bid. That was good news, but I also warned that in his last months on the BoE, lots of damage could still be done.

Sometimes I hate being right.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  


In a 10-5 party line vote last week, the BoE rammed through a vast number of changes to the Texas state history standards, all of which conform to the über-far-right's twisted view of reality. In these new standards, Hispanics are ignored, Black Panthers are added to provide balance to the kids learning about Martin Luther King, Jr., and get this, Thomas Jefferson was removed*.

It's insanity, pure and simple. The absolute and utter denial of reality generally is.

In typical McLeroy nutball fashion, he said:

"We are adding balance," said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. "History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left."

"Balance". Feh. As Colbert once said, reality has a well-known liberal bias.

The problem here isn't one of balance, it's of revisionism. As one of the more reality-based members of the BoE said, "They are rewriting history, not only of Texas but of the United States and the world." As another example, the new history standards downplays and questions the separation of Church and State. And this was no accident by the religious zealots on the Board; when a more moderate Democrat tried to insert language about why the Establishment Clause was put in the Constitution, it was voted down by the Republicans.

There's tons more. And there's one that totally blows me away. I hope you're ready for this -- they added apologetics for the McCarthy hearings.

Yes, you read that right. They added to the standards that America was being infiltrated by Communists, and therefore McCarthy was right.

Holy crap.

So, is Texas doomed? Well, I can hope that teachers across the state will see through this sort of revisionist garbage, but I also know that bucking the standards is very difficult for educators, especially when those standards guide how tests are made, both in the schools and in statewide standardized testing.

And even worse, Texas has such a huge school system that textbook publishers will base their books in large part on the Texas standards, and these books will then be sold in other states. So these handful of ultra-conservative rabid far-right lunatics will actually be affecting the way children are taught all over the country. That means my kid. Your kids. All of them.

Congratulations, Texas State Board of Education. And thanks for dragging the rest of us down with your insanity.


My thank to everyone who sent me links about this.

[* Update: It was Jefferson's contribution to the Enlightenment that was removed, not Jefferson himself. Sorry for any confusion there.]



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