Tea Party history, Texas textbook version

July 21, 2010

A mostly historically accurate view of history of Tea Party-like movements:

Tip of the old scrub brush to Unreasonable Faith and earthaid.

Republicans snub Vietnam vet (again – Connecticut this time)

May 29, 2010

Details here, with Gail Collins.

Texas education: Social studies on the gallows today

May 18, 2010

Social studies curricula climb the scaffold to the gallows set by the “conservative” majority of the Texas State Board of Education today.  If they get their way — and signs are they will — they will hobble social studies education for at least a half generation.

As The Dallas Morning News explains this morning, lame-duck board members fully intend to change Texas and American culture with their rewriting of history, de-emphasis of traditional history education, and insertion of what they consider pro-patriotic ideas in social studies.

AUSTIN – When social conservatives on the State Board of Education put the final touches on social studies curriculum standards this week, it will be a significant victory in their years-long push to imprint their beliefs upon what Texas students learn.

We in the part-time blogosphere can’t cover the meeting as it deserves — nor have we been able to mobilize pro-education forces to do what was needed to stop the board — yet.

McLeroy will make the most of his remaining time on the panel. He proposed several additions to the social studies standards for the board to consider this week. One would require students to “contrast” the legal doctrine of separation of church and state with the actual wording in the Bill of Rights that bars a state-established religion.

McLeroy has resurrected the old Cleon Skousen/David Barton/White Supremecist argument that “separation of church and state” does not appear in the Constitution, disregarding what the document and its amendments actually say.  Jefferson warned that such discussions poison children’s education, coming prematurely as this one would be as McLeroy wants it.

Watch that space.  Tony Whitson at Curricublog will cover it well, and probably timely — read his stuff.  Steve Shafersman’s work will be informative.  The Texas Tribune offered great coverage in the past.  Stay tuned.  And the Texas Freedom Network carries the flag and works hard to recruit the troops and keep up morale.

People for the American Way and the American Civil Liberties Union have already chimed in.

It is discouraging.  Under current history standards, Texas kids should know the phrase “shot heard ’round the world,” but they do not get exposure to the poem from which the phrase comes, nor to the poet (Emerson), nor exposure to Paul Revere whose ride inspired Longfellow later to write a poem that children have read ever since — except in Texas.

But under the new standards, Texas children will learn who Phyllis Schlafly is.  Patriots are out; hypocrites and demagogues are in.

But it could always be worse: Maine Republicans trash classroom for teaching the Constitution

May 15, 2010

You couldn’t get fiction like this published.

Republicans in Maine voted to scrap the Republican platform and write a new one — not enough unholy discrimination in the old one, too much Eisenhower, too much Lincoln, or something like that.  The convention spilled out into a local middle school for some of the platform writing shenanigans.

In one 8th grade classroom, the Maine Republicans found something they objected to, something they don’t want taught to 8th graders:  The U.S. Constitution.

Pharyngula has the story and comments here.  ThinkProgress has more gory details here. Portland (Maine) Press-Herald story here. Bangor Daily News story here.

The Republicans were particularly incensed by a poster showing a collage used to open a project assigned to the Portland 8th graders.  The 8th graders make poster collages elaborating on the Four Freedoms speech of Franklin Roosevelt, and the accompanying posters by Norman Rockwell.  Norman Rockwell.  You know.  The guy who started his professional career as art director for the Boy Scouts of America . . .

“Brainwashing” the Republicans called U.S. history.  Brainwashing.

Speaking of the children, they got into the act Tuesday after a note from “a Republican” was found in Clifford’s classroom. “A Republican was here,” it read. “What gives you the right to propagandize impressionable kids?”

Responded eighth-grader Lilly O’Leary, one of several students who sent e-mails to this newspaper decrying the behavior of their weekend guests, “I am not being brainwashed in his class under any circumstances. I am being told that I have the right to my own opinion.”

She added, “These people were adults and they were acting very immaturely.”

Remember when Republicans used to complain that we can’t jail flag-burning protesters?  When did those guys get kicked out of the party, and who are these new thugs?

When did it become the Re-Poe-blican Party?  When did they take up the Blackshirt tactics?

C’mon, Republicans.  Come back to America.  Repent now.

And — as for us Texans?  This is the stuff Don McLeroy wants to see happen in Texas social studies standards — vandalism of the U.S. Constitution and American law and tradition.

As a Scouter, as a teacher, as a fan of the U.S. Constitution, I’m concerned.  Should I be scared?

“I saw nothing in the room — and nobody pointed out anything in the room — that appeared to give a more balanced view,” [Knox County Republican Party Chairman William] Chapman said.

[Teacher Paul] Clifford and the school’s principal, Mike McCarthy, pointed out in media accounts that the posters were part of projects on freedom and free expression. [Bangor Daily News]

Maybe everyone should be scared.


Hmmmmm.  Ken County, Maine, Republicans offer rewards to people who rat out others who vandalize campaign signs.  How about they extend that to rat out the Republicans who vandalized Paul Clifford’s classroom?  You know, in the interest of free speech and all . . .


Norman Rockwell, poster of his paintings on the Four Freedoms (Library of Congress image)

Norman Rockwell, poster of his paintings on the Four Freedoms (Library of Congress image). This is part of what the Maine Tea Party Republicans objected to.

Exercise your right to stand up for freedom and educationspread the word:

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Especially Texans: Please stand up for high-quality, non-political education

May 13, 2010

I get e-mail, this time from the Texas Freedom Network:

The State Board of Education meeting is next week, and we need YOU to make a difference.

“Am I a religious fanatic? Absolutely. You’d have to be to do what I do.”
– State Board of Education member Don McLeroy

Don't White Out our education - Texas Freedom Network

Don't White Out Our History! - Texas Freedom Network

Is this who you want to decide what Texas schoolchildren learn? Or would you rather entrust that task to someone who believes public education is a “tool of perversion,” as board member Cynthia Dunbar believes? Or maybe any one of the board members who believe the separation of church and state is a myth?

If this is not what you want for Texas children, NOW is the critical time to take a stand.

The controversial social studies curriculum process is coming to an end. Public testimony will be heard at the State Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, May 19, and we expect a vote on these standards to take place the following day. We need you to stand up to the State Board of Education by attending our rally on Wednesday, May 19. Or testifying in front of the board. Or both!

“Don’t White-Out Our History”  Rally
Wednesday, May 19 at 1:00 p.m.
William B. Travis building (where the state board meets).
Click here to sign up to attend the rally

Also on Wednesday, the State Board of Education will hear public testimony on the social studies curriculum standards. Since you are already planning to be at the William B. Travis building for the rally, you can also sign up to testify! Read below for more information on registering to testify with the Texas Education Agency. (Testimony will begin in the morning and likely stretch into the evening — so if you wish to testify, be prepared for a long day.)

We look forward to seeing you next week. If you have any questions, e-mail Judie or call us at 512-322-0545.

SBOE dare not say his name: “Obama”

May 3, 2010

What?  The Texas State Board of Education is doing such a shoddy job of writing social studies standards that they don’t even name the current president of the U.S.?

It’s a cautionary tale of overprescribing, and of looking at everything as if it has some ulterior motive.  But is there any rational reason why the SBOE refuses to utter the name “Obama?”

President Barack Obama

Who is this man? Texas social studies standards let his identity remain a mystery, despite the historical significance of his election.

SBOE should stop gutting social studies standards and vote to simply accept the updates provided by teachers, historians, economists and geographers.  The process is out of control, embarrassing to Texas, and damaging to education.

Grading Texas has the story (from TSTA), here in its entirety (but go check out that blog):

April 28, 2010

The president has a name: it’s Barack Obama

TSTA President Rita Haecker created a stir among legislators today when she testified, at a hearing hosted by the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, that the State Board of Education, in its recent rewrite of social studies curriculum standards, had refused to name President Barack Obama.

That bit of news seemed to catch several lawmakers by surprise. They already knew that the right-wing bloc on the board had attempted to rewrite history. But to go so far as to omit the name of the historic, first African American president of the United States seemed preposterous, even by conservative leader Don (the Earth is 5,000 years old) McLeroy’s standards.

Haecker was correct. Barack Obama’s name, so far, has not been included in the history curriculum standards on which the SBOE is scheduled to take a final vote next month. The standards do note the “election of first black president” as a significant event of 2008, but they don’t say who that black president is.

Haecker urged legislators to make changes, if necessary, to the curriculum setting process to protect educator input and ensure that “scholarly, academic research and findings aren’t dismissed or diminished at the whim of a board member’s own political or religious view of the world.”

State Education Commissioner Robert Scott accepted the caucus’ invitation to voluntarily testify on the curriculum adoption process. He said his and the Texas Education Agency’s role was mostly in technical support of the SBOE.

Board Chairwoman Gail Lowe of Lampasas, who also had been invited, declined to attend, even though the caucus had offered to pay her travel expenses.

Predictably, Lowe was skewered for her failure to show up by the mostly Democratic legislators who attended the caucus hearing. Lowe must have figured it was better to be skewered in absentia than in person.

You can read Rita Haecker’s prepared testimony here:


Oh, go on — you can say it — tell your friends:

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Education board shames Texas: Ben Sargent and Texas education follies, part B

March 31, 2010

Ben Sargent, Austin American-Statesman, on Rick Perry and Texas social studies standards

Ben Sargent, Austin American-Statesman (GoComics) March 17, 2010

(I first saw a Ben Sargent cartoon published in the Daily Utah Chronicle in about 1974.  35 years of great stuff from that guy.  He officially retired from the Austin American-Statesman in 2009, running one cartoon a week now.)

Tip of the old scrub brush, again, to Steven Schafersman and What Would Jack Do.

Also note this January cartoon from Sargent:

Ben Sargent, Austin American-Statesman, January 24, 2010

Texas State Board of Education social studies curricula - Ben Sargent, Austin American-Statesman, January 24, 2010

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