That Texas Board of Education action on Friday – that established curriculum demanding right wing views be taught in public schools – has formed a dramatically appropriate illustration of the reason that Thomas Jefferson supported the separation of church and state. By enacting ignorance into law for school students, the BOE gave memorable voice to standards that it opposes. Right wing views were set up as curriculum that would be taught to Texas schoolchildren instead of facts accepted by professional historians, and by the rest of the world. Would be, unless sanity prevails in the Texas legislature (stop that snickering) when it legislates actual funding of the new textbooks.

Entertaining the world, the faction of our political scene that calls physician conferences with patients on living wills ‘death panels’ is on stage and loving it in the Loan Star State. Cameras rolled in Austin last week, and the final day saw an opening prayer emblazoned with quotes from former Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren for the prayergiver’s diversion. Unfortunately for the actual spirit of Christianity invoked, board members played out their divisive intent with a majority dedicated to cutting off Texas students from factual history.

At issue: the inclusion of minorities, particularly Hispanics; the balance between liberal and conservative; the clash between “pro-America” proponents and those who accuse them of a historical “whitewash”; the concept of American exceptionalism; the proper role of religion; and, yes, even country music versus hip-hop.

The many changes adopted will be analyzed more thoroughly in many news outlets, but a brief synopsis this weekend came from the Examiner.com .

Board member Don McLeroy said in March, “What we have is the history profession, the experts, seem to have a left-wing tilt, so what we were doing is trying to restore some balance to the standards.”

According to CNN, the approved amendments include discussions of Social Security and Medicare and the solvency of such entitlements. The new curriculum will also include investigation into why the Founding Fathers protected religious freedoms in the U.S. and guaranteed it could be exercised freely by ensuring Congress could not create a law that would inhibit such practices, while comparing and contrasting the idea to the concept of separation of church and state.

Many of us got our history lessons from sweetly corrective schoolteachers who interjected their own official passages from the history texts with reference to that ‘war of northern aggression’ and the cause of southern subjugation as ‘buying high, selling low’ in the face of northern manufacturing dominance. At home we heard about the tragedy of ending the ‘darkies’ idyllic existence as wards of benevolent patrons, and sweet times of ‘pickaninnies’ singing along the river, cared for by the gentlefolk. I have particular memories from the banks of the Big Muddy under quietly swaying Spanish moss in the live oaks, of a schoolteacher aunt whose only profanity was ‘damnyankee’.

What the Texas Board of Education doesn’t appear to realize is that myth can be taught but it can’t be enacted into reality. History exists outside the powers of the BOE to affect it, and by imposing standards of the right wing onto what is taught in Texas schools the Board is only adding to a long history of wingnut attempts to change reality by its own wishes.

Democracy founders sometimes when the rabble gets hold of a gavel, but it has a core strength, the popular vote. Once again, it will take suffering the ill effects of factional domination that costs the public dearly to bring out that vote. This BOE has achieved that anyway.

Even in the editorially right wing Wall Street Journal a poll result of 90.9% so far this morning had opposed the BOE actions, when asked; "Do you support the Texas Board of Education’s plan for social studies curriculum changes that portray America as a nation rooted in Biblical values?"

That historical revisionism doesn’t seem to be working out so well for them.

Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.

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