12 March 2010

Texas: Howard Zinn Not Welcome

Breaking news . . .


"After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday voted to approve a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the role of Christianity in American history . . ."

More here.

Hmmm . . . could their political philosophies and views on education have anything to do with their superior economic performance? Would anyone be want to argue that these two things are just coincidence?

This post will dovetail nicely with others that will follow soon on American Exceptionalism. Fascinating.

4 comments:

Michael Aubrecht said...

Adding balance is one thing but this is way overboard.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Michael:

I'd be careful about accepting the NYT's spin on this story. They are, after all, not the most reliable source for news and have their own cross to bear when it comes to bias. This whole issue is backlash and should come as no surprise. Regarding the NYT's reporting on the concern of some Hispanic board members, I wish they would have been more specific and cited examples. That being said, I would be opposed to any type of "affirmative action" history. (And I have 2 grandsons of Hispanic heritage - their mother is from the Dominican Republic) Individuals should be chosen for inclusion based on merit and importance, not because of their ethnicity - whether they are Irish, Hispanic, Welsh, or any other nationality or ethnicity.

Beyond that, I don't see any real issue here. These are duly elected officials and are simply carrying out their duties as they believed their constituents would want them to. As we well know, elections have consequences.

Was there something specific that bothered you about this?

Michael Aubrecht said...

Richard, I see your points but I think these people are abusing their power to push an ideology. No doubt there needs to be a more moderate, inclusive, and factual form of history being taught, but trying to insert a political or religious agenda into the classroom (whether the "other side" has tried to do the same) is wrong. I am a devout Christian and also a Libertarian. What that means is that I believe in God with all my heart, but I also agree that we all have an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as the Founders intended. This is not it.

YES they need to rewrite the books to some extent, but it must be balanced, moderate, and strictly factual. No historians or scientists were consulted on this from what I’ve read. How is that possible? And what have they chosen to do? Removing Jefferson in some instances and adding Calvin in others, while equating Lincoln and Davis is all opinion-driven. They are creating another form of the very bias that they brag to stand against. It’s a total hypocrisy in my opinion and not what America is about.

I wrote a religious bio on Stonewall Jackson that is used to teach bible study in churches from New England to Iraq. That said it is presented in the proper context of a religious book. I would not want it being used in the public classroom as secular curriculum. Simply put, two wrongs don’t make a right and there is a place for bias, opinionated, faith-based study and a place for straight history. They are mixing the two and that could be dangerous. (And the pendulum could swing the other way.)

Let the teachers stick to the cold, hard. facts and let me, my wife, and our church teach them the other stuff as we see fit. That's what the Founders wanted IMO.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Michael:

"strictly factual."

I agree, but I don't see anything being included that is not factual. Do you have a specific concern about something they've mentioned which is not factual?

It seems to me they are simply including facts and events in the new texts which, in the past, have been excluded.

"No historians or scientists were consulted on this from what I’ve read."

These folks are not actually writing the text books here, just making sure certain events and figures are included. That's what they were elected to do, not hand their duties off to unelected "experts." We have too much of that going on in government now. We elect someone to do a job and they appoint some "blue-ribbon panel of experts" and pass on the hard choices which they were elected to make. That's not what we elect these folks to do. Why don't we just elect "experts" and "blue-ribbon panels?" (See my latest post on that topic).

The NYT piece says:

"There were no historians, sociologists or economists consulted *at the meetings*, though some members of the conservative bloc held themselves out as experts on certain topics."

None at the meeting. It does not say these people have not, at some point, consulted and received input from others. But, again, the voters put them there to do what they are doing because they believe they were qualified to make these choices. That's democracy. As I said, elections have consequences.

"Removing Jefferson in some instances and adding Calvin in others" That is simply editing, in my opinion. Though I'm not a Calvinist, there is no question that he deserves a lot of attention due to his influence on the Founders.

"They are creating another form of the very bias that they brag to stand against. It’s a total hypocrisy in my opinion and not what America is about."

Again, it looks like to me they are simply including people and events that have been excluded before. I don't see that as the same form of bias as what we've seen evolve in public education over the last 40-50 years. And I believe changing references of "capitalism" to "free-enterprise system" is proper, since it was Karl Marx who coined the phrase "capitalism." Free-enterprise is what I was taught our economic system is. Though the other term has been accepted, FE is more historically accurate, isn't it?

I have a copy of my 7th grade public school history book which mentions church, Christianity, & faith in God and its impact on our Nation over 90 times throughout the text. 16 years later, I saw a copy of my sister's 7th grade history book. There were 3 mentions of the same subject matter, but several pages about Marylin Monroe.

My history book contains facts. So did my sister's, but which facts one chooses to emphasize is a legitimate point of argument and debate. These folks won that debate during the election and are now simply choosing the facts which they and their constituents believe to be the most important and relevant.

It is, in my opinion, EXACTLY how the Founders intended our Republic to function.

Sorry, my friend, but we'll have to disagree on this one.

15 March, 2010 08:39