texas textbook massacre: as texas goes, so goes the nation

I've seen quite a few bloggers alerting people to the recent work of the Texas Board of "Education" - and if ever there was a need for scare quotes, this is it.

If you haven't heard, the radical right, radical white, faction of the Texas Board has succeeded in re-writing US history.

What many people may not realize is that the implications of this classroom coup reaches far beyond the Lone Star State. Because Texas is the second-largest buyer of textbooks in the US, and purchasing decisions are made at the state (not local) level, textbook publishers can't survive without the Texas seal of approval. To guarantee that approval, they adopt Texas Board of Ed standards as their own. In other words, what young Texans read, young people all over the country read, too.

In my freelancing days, I had some work editing textbooks. Copy-editors kept the Texas Board of Education requirements on-hand as a checklist, and everything we turned in had to meet that checklist. I haven't been able to find reliable figures on what percentage of US textbooks conform to Texas standards, but I recall it being greater than half.

So what will - and will not - be in these books?

From Think Progress: Thomas Jefferson is out, replaced by John Calvin and St. Thomas Aquinas. (Did I just write that? Did you just read that? Thomas Jefferson will not be included in US history textbooks.)

Freedom of religion is out, along with "transvestites, transsexuals and who knows what else"; that is, the concept of gender and race being social constructs.

The word "democratic" is out, replaced by "constitutional republic."

From HuffPo: Judeo-Christian influences of the Founding Fathers (minus Jefferson, that is), in. Separation of church and state, out.

From the New York Times: Hispanic Americans, out. All-white history, in.

Black Panthers, in. (To "balance" the view that the civil rights movement was non-violent.)

Supposed vindication of Marthyism, in.

The word "capitalism" is out, replaced by "free-enterprise system". Also in, Milton Friedman. Somehow I don't think children will read about his role in overthrowing democratically elected governments and subsequent torture and massacres.

Also in: Phyllis Schlafly, Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority, the NRA. (The NRA wasn't there already?)

Washington Monthly reminds us that "no historians, sociologists, or economists have been consulted. The ideologues simply decide what kind of "truths" they like best, and then shape the state's curriculum accordingly."

For details, the Times story is best.

Today I am really missing Howard Zinn.

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