Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Texas Debacle

(Please note: this blog uses a lot of four letter words. Because when I'm angry and writing, I don't monitor the amount of cursing I do. So if it offends you, either don't read it or replace the words with something more tolerable in your head. Whatev.)

Today is one of those days where I feel like I'm losing faith in the people of America.

Understand that I am pretty patriotic. I believe that this is, inherently, a pretty amazing country. I think we have a lot of wonderful things in place, especially since, comparatively, we're really, really young. I think that most people who live here are good, decent people. I feel like a lot of our "differences" are really small things that have just been blown up by people who take advantage of them to exploit their own agenda. For instance, guns. Such a huge hot button issue. Except that most people I know can agree that guns themselves aren't the end of civilization, that, yeah, certain people really don't need to be able to buy them, but that they are able to be owned and used safely and responsibly. Right? Except you NEVER hear that. You hear that conservatives want to hand a gun to everyone anytime and liberals hate them all and want everyone with a gun to hand them in. Then no one can have them EVER. The end. But even though there are extremists, for sure, on both sides, most of us meet somewhere in the middle ground. Too bad the people who want to get your vote are determined to hide that from you.

But that's a rant for another day.

Today, the state of Texas has given me a multitude of emotions...and none of them are good.

Last week, I have discovered, the Texas state board of education made a bunch of changes to its social studies curriculum. Changes that will utterly reshape the way Texas children learn about things like history and economics.

I first read about this in the Bad Astronomy blog (which I highly recommend to everyone, by the way.) And what I read, I couldn't quite believe. So I dug deeper. And grew more disturbed.

First of all, the Board originally used teachers and professors. But when they found out that the people who, you know, teach and presumably know these subjects well balked completely at many of the preposterous ideas, they threw it all out and brought in experts. Whew, you think, experts. Thank god. Well, think again. These experts were anyone that two of the (incredibly conservative) board could agree on. Like, oh, Peter Marshall. Peter Marshall, ladies and gentlemen, believes that Hurricane Katrina and the wildfires in California are punishments from God since we tolerate gays. You know, because Jesus was all about hanging out with only good, just people and never ever kicked it with, say, whores or lepers or anything. Nope, he pretty much added the 11th commandment about judging the fuck out of everyone and being a dick to everyone who wasn't up to par, God-wise. That totally happened. Or something not at all like that. But whatever. No matter what you believe about God, that person probably isn't someone you want setting up shit for impressionable young children.

So, you may be wondering what they did to make me so annoyed, right? Like, what *are* these crazy curriculum changes?

Well, here are just a few:
-Slavery was totally a remnant of British rule, and the Americans *tried* to cast it off FROM DAY ONE.
-They want to show that McCarthyism was totally right and just.
-Newt Gingrich is an important historical figure.
-Ronald Regan singlehandedly saved the entire world from communism.
-Martin Luther King Jr is a historical figure...BUT he shouldn't be credited with anything too huge in the fight for minority rights.
-The Black Panthers are being added to "balance" the Civil Rights movement.
-This was inherently intended to be a Christian nation and the whole "separation of church and state" thing is a big myth.
-Hispanics and their contributions are pretty much ignored completely.

But most of you don't live in Texas, so why is this a big deal anyways?

Well, folks, Texas is the largest shaping force in textbooks that are sold in this country. Which was once a pretty decent thing. Texas has, in the past, enacted a lot of pretty decent educational standards that lots of other states modeled themselves after. So now, even though the Texas Board has lost their damn minds, textbook companies will still be catering to them. Meaning that YOUR kids could have textbooks teaching all this nonsense.

Now, I'm not Christian...and I'm not conservative. But I spent a lot of time thinking about it this morning, and, quite frankly, this shit would piss me off even if I was. Who the fuck are these people to promote this kind of agenda in a children's textbook? As a parent, it's *my* job to teach my child about religion and or politics. It's *not* a public school's. If I wanted my girls bombarded with shit advancing a certain agenda, I'd put them in a private school that complied with *my* specific way of thinking. I understand that with history and social studies there is always a slightly skewed view...the winner of any skirmish, after all, shapes how things are perceived. But this isn't skewing like that. This is basically turning the textbooks of our children into conservative Christian tracts. And that just isn't right.

I want my child to learn facts at school. Facts that will prepare her for higher education, for making her way in the world. If she wants to search further for a spiritual meaning, or look into the religious exploits of the founding fathers, or cast a closer eye at what political ideology shaped certain things, then we can research it, and we can look at the conflicting sources and viewpoints, and she can draw a conclusion on her own. She can learn to explore further, become a critical thinker, and form her own beliefs that way. She'll learn to sort through propaganda and be a better person for it.

Forcing kids to parrot back the agenda you support isn't teaching. It's dictating.

Shame on you, Texas Board of Education.

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