Texas social studies curriculum panel reports: The Great Texas History Smackdown


Just when you thought it was safe to take a serious summer vacation, finish the latest Doris Kearns Goodwin, and catch up on a couple of novels . . .

The sharks of education policy are back.

Or the long knives are about to come out (vicious historical reference, of course, but I’m wagering the anti-education folks didn’t catch it).  Pick your metaphor.

Our friend Steve Schafersman sent out an e-mail alert this morning:

The Expert Reviews of the proposed Texas Social Studies curriculum are now available at

http://ritter. tea.state. tx.us/teks/ social/experts. html

Social Studies Expert Reviewers

  • David Barton, President, WallBuilders
    Review of Current Social Studies TEKS
  • Jesus Francisco de la Teja, Professor and Chair, Department of History, Texas State University
    Review of Current Social Studies TEKS
  • Daniel L. Dreisbach, Professor, American University
    Review of Current Social Studies TEKS
  • Lybeth Hodges, Professor, History, Texas Woman’s University
    Review of Current Social Studies TEKS
  • Jim Kracht, Associate Dean and Professor, College of Education and Human Development, Texas A&M University
    Review of Current Social Studies TEKS
  • Peter Marshall, President, Peter Marshall Ministries
    Review of Current Social Studies TEKS

You can download their review as a pdf file.

Three of these reviewers are legitimate, knowledgeable, and respected academics who undoubtedly did a fair, competent, and professional job. The other three are anti-church- state separation, anti-secular public government, and pseudoscholars and pseudohistorians. I expect their contributions to be biased, unprofessional, and pseudoscholarly. Here are the bad ones:

Barton may be the worst of the three. He founded Wallbuilders to deliberately destroy C-S separation and promote Fundamentalist Christianity in US government. Just about everything he has written is unhistorical and inaccurate. For example, Barton has published numerous “quotes” about C-S separation made by the Founding Fathers that upon investigation turned out to be hoaxes. Here’s what Senator Arlen Specter had to say about Barton:

Probably the best refutation of Barton’s argument simply is to quote his own exegesis of the First Amendment: “Today,” Barton says, “we would best understand the actual context of the First Amendment by saying, ‘Congress shall make no law establishing one Christian denomination as the national denomination. ‘ ” In keeping with Barton’s restated First Amendment, Congress could presumably make a law establishing all Christian denominations as the national religion, and each state could pass a law establishing a particular Christian church as its official religion.

All of this pseudoscholarship would hardly be worth discussing, let alone disproving, were it not for the fact that it is taken so very seriously by so many people.

I am sure these six will participate in a Great Texas History Smackdown before our crazy SBOE. Perhaps this will finally sicken enough citizens that they will finally vote to get rid of the SBOE, either directly or indirectly. Be sure to listen to this hearing on the web audio. Even better, the web video might be working so you can watch the SBOE Carnival Sideshow.

Steven Schafersman, Ph.D.
President, Texas Citizens for Science

The non-expert experts were appointed by Don McLeroy before the Texas Senate refused to confirm his temporary chairmanship of the State Board of Education.  The good McLeroy may have done as chairman is interred with his dead chairmanship; the evil he did lives on.  (Under McLeroy and Barton’s reading of history and literature, most students won’t catch the reference for the previous sentence.)

Tony Whitson at Curricublog posted information you need to readTexas Freedom Network’s Insider has a first pass analysis of the crank experts’ analyses — they want to make Texas’s social studies curriculum more sexist, more racist, more anti-Semitic, more anti-working man, and closer to Sunday school pseudo-history.  While Dallas prepares to name a major street in honor of Cesar Chavez, Barton and Marshall say he’s too Mexican and too close to Jews, and so should be de-emphasized in history books (a small picture of Chavez appears on one of the main U.S. history texts now).

That’s the stuff that jumps out at first.  What else will we find when we dig?

More to come; watch those spaces, and this one, too.

5 Responses to Texas social studies curriculum panel reports: The Great Texas History Smackdown

  1. […] posts featuring McLeroy at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub here, and here, and here, and here, and […]

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  2. […] “Texas social studies curriculum panel reports:  The Great Texas History Smackdown” Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Rick Perry’s education dilemmaMcLeroy’s appointment in trouble in the Texas lege?Texas Senate rejects creationist’s nominationFri, 03 Aug 2007 03:14:56 GMT […]

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  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Alberto, those two guys are 33% of the “expert” reviewers. No, there will not be more balance in the State Board of Education — less, if anything.

    It’s time to speak up, now.

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  4. Alberto Ruiz says:

    Thanks for the insight, I never knew Cesar Chavez was “emphasized” in history books. Why would Barton and Marshall create a hypothesis to wipe-out U.S. history- because Chavez “looks Mexican”? He was a U.S. born citizen who was awarded the Medal of Freedom.

    I certainly hope there is more balance at the table where curriculum is decided. All Americans deserve to know and understand their shared history. The world is getting smaller and it is not good for our children for us to insist on racism and division.

    “While Dallas prepares to name a major street in honor of Cesar Chavez, Barton and Marshall say he’s too Mexican and too close to Jews, and so should be de-emphasized in history books.”

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  5. Tony Whitson says:

    Thanks, Ed.

    I had read the Barton report, and marveled at the Alinsky swipe, but completely missed the anti-Semitism. I just thought it was a matter of guilt-by-association-with-“community organizers” (who as you know, unlike governors, don’t have “actual responsibilities”). Now that you point it out, though, I’m sure that anti-Semitism is also involved.

    We need to remember this generally unspoken tone in the chord of contempt for Barney Frank, Arlen Specter, Charles Shumer, Al Franken, etc.

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