Tread On Me – Please! Black Hats Win in Texas!

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

We are discussing altered history textbooks. These are books that are changed to teach history in a biased manner that somehow serves an ideology or the state, but which has little to do with truth. In the last post, we discussed what has been done along these lines recently by China, Iran and Russia.

Let’s move closer to home. Let’s talk about Texas.

The yellow rose has wilted. The Bad Guys won the shoot out. Texas, once a land fabled for open spaces and for being a tower of freedom, his becoming the land of ideological indoctrination and petty-minded educational bias. (The following is based on an article found in The Week, October 1 issue, and is my response.)

If you’re a school kid in Texas, thanks to the intrepid work done by a group of zealots elected to the Texas Board of Education, here’s what you’re going to start learning from your textbooks in 2012:

- Thomas Jefferson was NOT an important founding father. He’s a “minor figure”. This because he authored the idea of separation of Church and State, so the zealots on the School Board are going to get back at old Tom. And he really wasn’t important to American History, now, was he? He was only our second Vice President, our third President. Tom and Ben Franklin brought France into our Revolutionary War which was instrumental in winning that war and our freedom. Oh, and he did write an unimportant document that barely deserves to be discussed, the Declaration of Independence. You know, “When in the course of human events blah blah blah”?

Oh, and by the way, nearly ALL of the founding fathers supported separation of Church and State. They and their immediate ancestors had fled a Europe dominated by nations controlled by churches. Remember the Inquisitions? The Thirty Years’ War? Our founding fathers wanted to build a nation where anyone could worship or not in freedom and as they saw fit. So maybe they were ALL unimportant? George Washington, John Adams, the whole lot of them? They wanted separation of Church and State. Washington insisted on it as he did not want to be like Henry VIII, the head of state and of the state church. I guess George wasn’t very important either. Man, those are going to be very thin textbooks!

But let’s not allow facts to get in the way of a well-slanted history textbook. At least, not in Texas. Thomas Jefferson, a minor figure indeed. But Texas school children, thanks to an incredible degree of blind zealotry, will be taught this lesson. It is so “mandated”, and major publishers greedy for educational dollars are rewriting textbooks as we speak to satisfy this bizarre set of demands. There’s more.

- Cesar Chavez is no longer to appear in history at all. Thousands of immigrant farm workers whose lives were drastically improved through his efforts are going to be very sorry to learn that there really was no Cesar Chavez, not so far as history is concerned. Their cause was never represented. They have no place in history. At least, not in Texas.

- I know many people in our Southern States will approve of this change in history. America never indulged in slavery. Nope, there was no slavery here! In the new Texas textbooks, there was only “the Atlantic Triangular Trade”…and that form of enforced servitude (let’s not call it by the impolite term “slavery”, let’s maintain our manners and sip our mint juleps) was all the fault of the British! (I know that they will be horrified to discover this in Britain, but then, history textbooks are never wrong. Bad, British! Bad! To bed, and no supper for you!)

Congratulations, Jefferson Davis, you won the PR war after all! And Lincoln and the North, well, what DID they fight that Civil War thing over? If there was no slavery, why the war? It’s going to be fascinating to see how the Texas textbooks spin that little war, isn’t it!

I actually am having a very hard time deciding whether the Texas School Board is insane, utterly dishonest, just plain stupid or all of the above. What I do know is that by indoctrinating children in such an appalling and dishonest manner, they are guaranteeing an end result of mis-educated children who will have little or no actual understanding of history or of the nation they are a part of. They will, however, be well-indoctrinated ideologues who will cause endless problems with abiding by the mistaken and frighteningly ignorant ideas they will have acquired in school. Of course, there can be little doubt that ideologically brainwashed children is the goal of such a “Board of Education”. And the Inquisition has finally made it to America!

Folks, I am not a Texas hater. I’ve spent a fair amount of time there. My wife was born and raised there. A University Grad (University of Texas Austin) with a Masters Degree, she would have been SICK to see what’s happening in Texas, if she had not passed away in 2001. Her mother was a librarian, her father a scientist. They would have been equally disgusted. I like a lot of Texas and a lot of the people there. But I have to tell you that if you support such a bastardization of history textbooks, if you support the acts of such a “school board”, then you are profoundly participating in the dumbing-down of education, and doing a disastrous disservice to your children. And shame on you!

If you live in Texas and were unaware of these activities, get active. It’s your school board. Do something about it! Remove the ideologues from office and get some school board members who actually care about children and not about re-creating the world in their own image. Believe it or not, there is a substantial difference between education and indoctrination. It’s time that your school board learned the difference. If they can’t serve their children more honorably, they really need to catch the next stagecoach out of San Antonio.
_____

As you probably know, I am an advocate for homeschooling. It’s my belief that homeschooling potentially provides a student with a vastly superior education than schooling in any form. This is backed up by a lot of numbers and research. I’ve taught for public and private schools, at the University level, as a private instructor in thousands of workshops, and as a homeschool dad running a homeschool group. Homeschooling by far works best for most students- and most families.

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15 comments on “Tread On Me – Please! Black Hats Win in Texas!”

  1. Thanks for bringing this to the attention of those who don’t live in this area. I have forwarded it to a bunch of folks. This issue made the news last year, but things have been “surprisingly” quiet in recent months. I am not from TX, we have just ‘landed’ here. Perhaps these changes go hand & hand with the governor’s desire to succeed from the union when President Obama was elected? Okay, TX folks, throw rocks at me if you must – but the proof is in the textbook. — Ruthanne

  2. This is supposed to be a homeschool site? If you don’t like public school textbooks, why not homeschool? You can teach history from the actual documents instead of get tiny regurgitated blurbs about what someone else’s opinion of history happens to be. The question here is WHY USE A TEXTBOOK? Go to the original sources. That’s where history is always TRUE and you can make your OWN mind up about what to think about it.

  3. Yes, this is a homeschool site, but sadly, the world hasn’t yet arrived at your idea of history and how to teach it. if you’ll read any number of articles here, you’ll see that this is a most adamant homeschool site, so I’m going to sort of ignore your half-handed insult. You’re right to this degree, ONE of the best ways to teach history is to examine original documentation – which is why a lot of my own history courses revolve around exactly that exercise. But not everyone is equipped to teach or learn that way – there are MANY ways to successfully teach, and homeschool is largely about having the right and the freedom to discover what works best for each child, something I’d ask you to consider before you comment again. I think a text of any kind, including a historical document, has value only in so far as the student is able to understand it, evaluate it, and apply what he has learned. I’ve seen some great textbooks for all kinds of subjects, and I’ve seen a lot of lousy ones. They are tools, nothing more or less, and their value is determined solely by what the student can accomplish with them – in schools, or as homeschoolers.


  4. Raul Ybarra says:

    Do you have a source reference for this one? It’s so crazy that I’d just love to read the standards and regs this is based on. Might be useful here in IL, as well.

  5. Sorry, I wrote this a while ago, but the info was all over the Internet and TV news at the time.


  6. Sharon Ferguson says:

    Thomas Jefferson NEVER wrote the DoI or the Constitution (his contribution to it at any rate) with the express purpose of separating the church from the state. Im frankly shocked that a homeschool supporter like yourself is not aware that the whole “concept” of “separation of church and state” is actually from a LETTER that Jefferson wrote to ministers in New England who were asking how the new Constitution would affect religious freedom. He wrote a LETTER – NOT LAW – interpreting what the new Constitution actually meant for them, and the statement that there would be separation of church and state was to reassure the ministers that they would never have to fear that the new government would try to impose restrictions.

    Shame on you for not actually looking into this. The downplay of Jefferson’s role in the book was probably done so there could be focus on other important figures in early American history…like George Washington, John Adams etc. Jefferson was NOT the be all and end all of early American history.

    As for the slave trade, there WERE other things being traded. I think it important to point that out to students.

    Id be more concerned if the books still upheld the idea that Anglos merely moved to Texas so they could ‘steal’ land from those poor widdle ol’ Mexicans who were just minding their own business. If you were any kinds of aware of the real story of Texas history, you’d want them to know about the Mexican Constitution of 1824…

  7. Hi Sharon;

    1) Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence nearly alone, and then it was rewritten by Congress during a long series of discussion and debate. Madison authored the Constitution.

    2) I’m WELL aware of when Jefferson commented on separation of Church and State – and he made the same reference in numerous writings, not just one. It is not “law” as to the letter of the law – but it was clearly Jefferson’s intent, along with other several other founding fathers who feared what had occurred in Europe (religious wars, kings) and were doing everything in their power to avoid a repeat. American History 101, Sharon, do some homework before spewing again, please.

    3) The article I authored above was written as a response to what the Texas school board actually declared as their intent, and you should be going after them, not me. But then…you’re a teacher, aren’t you, Sharon? And you’re just trying to protect your job. At least, that’s what your response reads like. They made it clear they intend to control the IDEOLOGY taught to children, manipulating history to do it. You’re just wrong, madame.

    4) I AM concerned about the entire sweep of American history, and how the land was stolen from those who were here first. I cover this extensively in my history courses – something the Texas School Board (are you a member?) is unlikely to want to concern itself with. And I find it fascinating that you think Jefferson’s contribution to what is called a Jeffersonian Democracy should be minimized for ANY reason. You’re good school board material, lady.

  8. I’d like to see your sources on this. As a history teacher in TX who has studied these new standards and has helped develop curriculum based on them, I see a lot of misinformation here. Even in the small details — it’s not the “Texas School Board.” I admire your passion about the subject, but, unfortunately, this is the kind of post that gives homeschoolers a bad name.

    You can see the actual standards (which, by the way, went into effect this year) at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=3643. And before you try to accuse me of trying to protect my job, I left the school system to stay home with my baby this year. And I’m also a former homeschooler, who is considering homeschooling my children… but not because of what the TEA has recommended in their standards.

  9. Hi Shelby,

    Well, thanks for fessing up right away about being a teacher. Good choice, homeschooling your own child – given the miserable quality of TX schools. But of course, that’s likely why you’re considering homeschooling! Who would know better than a teacher in their system how bad and dangerous their schools are!

    For your info, the story was EVERYWHERE at that time (over a year ago), on broadcast TV and all over the Internet, there are hundreds of sources. Other parents have looked at the same standards and pulled their children from TX schools. And homeschoolers DON’T HAVE A BAD NAME, teachers do. They’ve failed generations of children and are the main reason our country is in the mess it’s in. Homeschoolers are a huge success story per colleges, test scores, any measurement you’d like to pull up and look at. And look at you, a teacher walking out of the schools to homeschool your own child. I guess you’ve elected to join those of us with “a bad name”, as you just put it? ‘Nough said on that one.

    Thanks for admiring my passion – it’s focused on putting schools out to pasture – and you know that if you read any of the articles here. I don’t believe you favor that move much, based on the overall sentiment expressed here.

  10. People can look up “2010 Texas changes history books” or other similar search items to see news articles about the changes that were approved. Cheers.

  11. Thanks, Kneyda, exactly right. The first one that came up on the search was from Huffington Post:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/13/texas-textbook-massacre-u_n_498003.html#s73765&title=Thomas_Jefferson_Whos

    This one alone tells the miserable tale.


  12. Pamela Krumvieda says:

    Whether Texas has the worst or best public schools in the country means nothing because even the best smelling poop is still poop. Texas buys such a huge number of text books that the decisions of those on this board influence much of the country. I know not the specifics regarding the history books. What I do know is that our public schools are failing our children. They graduate with less skills, less maturity and more indoctrination every year.

    A monopoly can only be fixed by breaking it up either from the outside (consumer) or the inside (government). Good luck with the later.

  13. Hi Pamela,

    Yup, I couldn’t agree with you more. Poop is poop, and our public schools are poop. And as for the government’s involvement in education – WHY? They’ve demonstrated that they can do education with greater expense and worse results by far than any other form of education. Expertise my eye, they need to get out of the very big business of public ed (over $550 BILLION a year) and families need to take full responsibility for their children’s education – or be willing to accept the consequences.

  14. I am putting 4 kids through public schools in TX and I can tell you that while you are right about the TX school board being a bunch of bozos, and I have read many stories about their revisionist history, etc., that the teachers in the schools do not actually use those books. Sure, the schools buy the books, and the kids have the books, but they never actually open them. Teachers teach to the TEKS, not the books. Our main problem here is the local school board,who decides how our tax dollars are spent – and you’re right, we should all pay attention to those decisions that are so often overlooked.

  15. Hi Lisa,

    Wow, I don’t know whether to applaud or cry. So they dumb down the books, spend money to buy them – and then they don’t use them because why? The books aren’t dumb enough to meet the TX school board’s standards? Makes me sad. And it seems very apparent that people with kids in public schools must start paying real attention to not only the safety issues, to teachers who abuse children, to all the many ways that schools fail kids and families – but also, their standards in terms of curriculum and methodology. Disgusting. Thanks, Lisa! You might want to homeschool…

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