May Be Forced to Learn About Right Wing Politics
Submitted by Southern Dave <http://www.thesouthernshift.com/users/southern-dave> on Fri, 2009-08-21 15:25 Authored by Gary Scharrer –
Express-News Original Article
As you read the following article about the outlandish draft of new standards being put forth by the Texas State Board of Education, keep in mind the importance o the age old ‘political commandment’ - Every seat counts. I recall being in Washington DC a few years ago and Howard Dean who was then governor of Vermont and contemplating running for President spoke in earnest about everyone getting involved with politics. He said it's not enough for activists to simply protest or ‘agitate' from the outside. He insisted that more activists run for office. He said all politics are local and because each seat won or lost can have direct impact on our day to day lives people should be running for everything on the ballot. He said run for Mayor, run for city council and run for dog catcher. Dean also noted that we should be paying close attention to all the seats that are up for grabs when we go to vote. I know for myself, I have often looked at the top of the ballot, punched the button for mayor and city council and paid little mind to who was running for school board, tax assessor, judge etc. I learned over time those seemingly small seats can make a huge difference in all sorts of areas. As I’m peeping this article, I’m shocked to read how the 15 member Texas State Board of Education put forth a proposal for a required history curriculum that would have our children learning about right wing conservatives like Newt Ginchrich and the Moral Majority headed up by the late Jerry Falwell. And if that’s not crazy enough this same Texas State Board has also proposed to remove Thurgood Marshall and Cesar Chavez from the text books. Yep, you read that right...They wanna remove them...
Just the other night I was at a well attended community forum put on by Southwest Keys in Austin. The topic of discussion was how to bridge the disparity gap in education that has so many Black and Brown kids dropping out or not doing as well as they could in school. Over and over we heard speakers citing studies, recounting their personal experience as educators and quoting from students that they wish to have lessons be more relevant. Black and Brown kids want to hear and read more about their history and heroes and sheroes, many of whom have been omitted from current texts in Texas schools. Many want to see how they have contributed to this great state. It's a shame the 15 TSBE members weren’t in attendance when they put forth their proposal to have little Johnny, or Jose learn all about right wing political people like Newt Grinchrich and not about our own political heroes like Mickey Leland, Barbara Jordan, Gus Garcia or Ciro Rodriguez… My guess is TSBE which has 10 Republicans and 5 Democrats realize the state is set to change and hence they are taken desperate measures. People stay alert and watch this Education board closely - indoctrination of our kids is in full effect.
AUSTIN- Texas high school students would learn about such significant individuals and milestones of conservative politics as Newt Gingrich and the rise of the Moral Majority — but nothing about liberals — under the first draft of new standards for public school history textbooks.
If everything goes as proposed Texas School kids will be required to learn about former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich
And the side that got left out is very unhappy. As it stands, students would get “one-sided, right wing ideology,” said Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, chairman of the House Mexican American Caucus.
“We ought to be focusing on historical significance and historical figures. It’s important that whatever course they take, that it portray a complete view of our history and not a jaded view to suit one’s partisan agenda or one’s partisan philosophy,” he said.
The State Board of Education has appointed “review committees” made up largely of active and retired school teachers to draft new social studies curriculum standards as well as six “expert reviewers” to help shape the final document.
The standards, which the board will decide next spring, will influence new history, civics and geography textbooks. The first draft for proposed standards in “United States History Studies Since Reconstruction” says students should be expected “to identify significant conservative advocacy organizations and individuals, such as Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly and the Moral Majority.”
Gingrich helped lead House Republicans to their 1994 takeover of Congress and became House Speaker. Schlafly founded the conservative Eagle Forum and became a leading opponent of the Equal Rights Amendment aimed at formalizing women’s equality with men. The Moral Majority formed in the late 1970s as an evangelical Christian organization that influenced politics and public policy for decades.
Whether students will also be exposed to liberal examples from the ebb and flow of American politics is hard to predict. Conservatives form the largest bloc on the 15-member State Board of Education, whose partisan makeup is 10 Republicans and 5 Democrats. David Bradley, R-Beaumont, one of the conservative leaders, figures the current draft will pass a preliminary vote along party lines “once the napalm and smoke clear the room.” But not all conservative board members share that view.
“It is hard to believe that a majority of the writing team would approve of such wording. It’s not even a representative selection of the conservative movement, and it is inappropriate,” Terri Leo, R-Spring, said. “I don’t think either side should be presented under outside labels.”
Another board conservative, Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, thinks students should study both sides to “see what the differences are and be able to define those differences.” He would add James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, conservative talk show host Sean Hannity and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to the list of conservatives. Others have proposed adding talk show host Rush Limbaugh and the National Rifle Association. “I think, at the end of the day, we will want the young students to be able to identify what’s conservative, what’s their advocacy and who are the conservative groups, individuals and leaders. And what is liberal in contrast,” Mercer said.
Among liberals to include, Mercer would nominate the National Education Association, MoveOn.org, Planned Parenthood and the Texas Freedom Network — a group that says it promotes “religious freedom and individual liberties to counter the radical right.” “We don’t think it’s appropriate to be listing groups and people in the standards just because they’re conservatives or liberals,” said Kathy Miller, the group’s president. “The state board should simply stop putting politics ahead of our kids’ education and putting teachers in the position of indoctrinating students with political agendas.”
The debate over new social studies curriculum standards will likely intensify in coming months. Two of the reviewers have recommended that César Chávez, the late farm workers union leader, be removed from school history books because they deem him an unworthy role model.
Board members appoint the review committees and typically choose people who share their philosophies. Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, was not sure about one prospective appointee — so she asked.
“Would you consider yourself a conservative when it comes to patriotism, the constitution, the heritage of our forefathers, etc?” Cargill wrote last year in an e-mail to Rhonda Williams, an education coordinator at Stephen F. Austin State University.
Cargill appointed Williams to one of the social studies review committees. The Texas Freedom Network obtained the e-mail exchanges under the Texas Public Information Act. “The majority of the constituents in my 24 counties tend to have conservative views, especially about how history is taught to our students,” Cargill said, explaining her inquiry. Cargill said she expects the review committees will “work toward a fair and balanced approach on this topic when they meet a final time in October.”
Miller remains worried about the outcome because conservatives dominate the State Board of Education.
“When the far-right faction of the board disagreed with the writing teams on language arts, they simply drafted a new document in the dead of night and slid it under board members’ hotel room doors prior to the vote. Shenanigans like that are simply unacceptable,” she said.
Bradley pointed out that critics howled when conservative board members made changes to the recommendations to writing team proposals for English language arts and reading standards and also for the science standards.
“Will the liberals try to defend substituting last minute revisions without adequate time to get expert reviews and evaluation? The shoe is on the other foot,” he said.