People for the American Way have joined the fight for good education in Texas, pushing better social studies education standards. The Texas State Board of Education will conduct final votes on social studies standards in May.
Grotesque slashes damaged social studies standards in the last round of amendments. Conservatives will probably try to keep secret their proposed changes, offering a flurry of last-minute amendments carefully designed to gut serious education and make the standards work as indoctrination for young conservatives instead.
PFAW has good reason to fear. Here’s their letter. from PFAW President Michael Keegan:
Dear People For Supporter,
Thomas Jefferson banned in Texas schools? Maybe… if the Right has its way. The fight is still on to keep absurd changes out of the Texas social studies textbook standards, with the final standards set to be adopted by the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) on May 21.
Right-wing members of the SBOE are using the textbook standards in Texas to rewrite history in a way that could impact students across the U.S., tossing out facts in favor of propaganda like:
- America is a Christian country, founded on “Biblical principles.”
- Conservative icons from Ronald Reagan to Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly, the Moral Majority and even Sen. Joseph McCarthy are history’s “good guys,” but progressives and progressive values are at odds with what it means to be “American.”
- Words like “democracy” (sounds like “Democrat!”) have nothing to do with America — we’re a Republic — In fact, “capitalism” has sort of a negative connotation to some, so they want that word to be universally replaced with “free market.”
- Some of the major contributions of Thomas Jefferson — arguably America’s greatest thinker — are on the chopping block, as are the contributions of other important figures not favored by the zealots on the Texas State Board of Education, like Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall. (Who’s next? Martin Luther King? FDR?)
Texas is just ground zero for what is clearly a national effort. We need to make sure that whatever standards are adopted in Texas, they do not affect the social studies textbooks used by students in other states.
The Texas State Board of Education traditionally has tremendous power in determining the content of textbooks not only for Texas students but for students across the U.S. Texas reviews and adapts textbook standards for the major subjects every six years, and because of the size of the state’s market, textbook publishers often print books consistent with the Texas standards. Last year, they attracted national ridicule for trying to inject creationism into science textbooks. This year, they’re voting on social studies standards.
The right-wing majority on the State Board wants indoctrinate Texas students into this new perverse revisionist history. PFAW is supporting our allies on the ground in Texas who are working to make sure students have the chance to learn history as it occurred, not how the Far Right wish it had happened. But we need to do all we can to make sure this is not exported to other states and school districts as well. Help us take extremism out of textbook decision making and let our children learn the truth in the classroom.
Thank you for your activism and for your continued support of PFAW.
– Michael B. Keegan, President
Pass the word, will you?