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Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

Old 03-14-10, 03:26 AM
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Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

AUSTIN, Tex. — After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.

The vote was 10 to 5 along party lines, with all the Republicans on the board voting for it.

The board, whose members are elected, has influence beyond Texas because the state is one of the largest buyers of textbooks. In the digital age, however, that influence has diminished as technological advances have made it possible for publishers to tailor books to individual states.

In recent years, board members have been locked in an ideological battle between a bloc of conservatives who question Darwin’s theory of evolution and believe the Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles, and a handful of Democrats and moderate Republicans who have fought to preserve the teaching of Darwinism and the separation of church and state.

Since January, Republicans on the board have passed more than 100 amendments to the 120-page curriculum standards affecting history, sociology and economics courses from elementary to high school. The standards were proposed by a panel of teachers.

“We are adding balance,” said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”

Battles over what to put in science and history books have taken place for years in the 20 states where state boards must adopt textbooks, most notably in California and Texas. But rarely in recent history has a group of conservative board members left such a mark on a social studies curriculum.

Efforts by Hispanic board members to include more Latino figures as role models for the state’s large Hispanic population were consistently defeated, prompting one member, Mary Helen Berlanga, to storm out of a meeting late Thursday night, saying, “They can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist.”

“They are going overboard, they are not experts, they are not historians,” she said. “They are rewriting history, not only of Texas but of the United States and the world.”

The curriculum standards will now be published in a state register, opening them up for 30 days of public comment. A final vote will be taken in May, but given the Republican dominance of the board, it is unlikely that many changes will be made.

The standards, reviewed every decade, serve as a template for textbook publishers, who must come before the board next year with drafts of their books. The board’s makeup will have changed by then because Dr. McLeroy lost in a primary this month to a more moderate Republican, and two others — one Democrat and one conservative Republican — announced they were not seeking re-election.

There are seven members of the conservative bloc on the board, but they are often joined by one of the other three Republicans on crucial votes. 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.

The conservative members maintain that they are trying to correct what they see as a liberal bias among the teachers who proposed the curriculum. To that end, they made dozens of minor changes aimed at calling into question, among other things, concepts like the separation of church and state and the secular nature of the American Revolution.

“I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”

They also included a plank to ensure that students learn about “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.”

Dr. McLeroy, a dentist by training, pushed through a change to the teaching of the civil rights movement to ensure that students study the violent philosophy of the Black Panthers in addition to the nonviolent approach of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He also made sure that textbooks would mention the votes in Congress on civil rights legislation, which Republicans supported.

“Republicans need a little credit for that,” he said. “I think it’s going to surprise some students.”

Mr. Bradley won approval for an amendment saying students should study “the unintended consequences” of the Great Society legislation, affirmative action and Title IX legislation. He also won approval for an amendment stressing that Germans and Italians as well as Japanese were interned in the United States during World War II, to counter the idea that the internment of Japanese was motivated by racism.

Other changes seem aimed at tamping down criticism of the right. Conservatives passed one amendment, for instance, requiring that the history of McCarthyism include “how the later release of the Venona papers confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government.” The Venona papers were transcripts of some 3,000 communications between the Soviet Union and its agents in the United States.

Mavis B. Knight, a Democrat from Dallas, introduced an amendment requiring that students study the reasons “the founding fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring the government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others.”

It was defeated on a party-line vote.

After the vote, Ms. Knight said, “The social conservatives have perverted accurate history to fulfill their own agenda.”

In economics, the revisions add Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek, two champions of free-market economic theory, among the usual list of economists to be studied, like Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes. They also replaced the word “capitalism” throughout their texts with the “free-enterprise system.”

“Let’s face it, capitalism does have a negative connotation,” said one conservative member, Terri Leo. “You know, ‘capitalist pig!’ ”

In the field of sociology, another conservative member, Barbara Cargill, won passage of an amendment requiring the teaching of “the importance of personal responsibility for life choices” in a section on teenage suicide, dating violence, sexuality, drug use and eating disorders.

“The topic of sociology tends to blame society for everything,” Ms. Cargill said.

Even the course on world history did not escape the board’s scalpel.

Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”)

“The Enlightenment was not the only philosophy on which these revolutions were based,” Ms. Dunbar said.
Article here but it's all over the net.

I've highlighted a few of what I think are the more choice comments and changes. I shudder to think of what a Texas schoolbook will look like in another 10 years if this kind of nonsense continues.

I'm all for updating outdated curriculum. Some of these changes are fine (like the "personal responsibility" part). But going back and altering just because of a small group's personal bias does not seem in the best interest of the students. Especially if NO ONE on the board appears to be an expert on these topics.
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Old 03-14-10, 06:58 AM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

Fascinating. And if colleges and universities in the US start admitting fewer and fewer Texans, they'll be up in arms about that too.
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Old 03-14-10, 07:38 AM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

Apparently Texans are idiots and want to ensure their children will be as well.
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Old 03-14-10, 08:27 AM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

I disagree.

Is this the same Thomas Jefferson who, when he was president, had the government pay for Christian missionaries? Is this the same Thomas Jefferson who held Christian church services in the capitol? Is this the same Thomas Jefferson who had the Marine Band play at those church services?

Who did Jefferson write that notable letter to?

I want people to know about the 'real Thomas Jefferson' and why he wrote that letter.

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Old 03-14-10, 08:56 AM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

History textbooks are a mess regardless of which side is controlling the bias. It is no better having a progressive slant than a conservative one. Until history textbooks are again written by historians, I don't imagine things will get any better, though.
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Old 03-14-10, 09:05 AM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

Historians distort things also - example - The Camelot Myth.
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Old 03-14-10, 09:27 AM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

Well... the fundamental concepts and many of the best known phrases and concepts of our Founding Documents and nation came directly from the pulpit of Christian ministers, from 'consent of the governed' to 'truths that are self evident', too many to list. John Adams said that Rev. Dr. Jonathan Mayhew and the Rev. Dr. Samuel Cooper were two of the individuals "most conspicuous, the most ardent, and influential" in the "awakening and revival of American principles and feelings" that led to American independence. The leader of the famous minutemen - Rev. Jonas Clark, was a Christian minister, and many of the minutemen were men who served in positions in his church. Rev. James Caldwell is no longer acknowledged as a key leader of the Colonial military forces in New Jersey, he's basically forgotten in history books. Rev. John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, who was one of Washington's foremost generals in the revolution, is virtually absent form the same 'history' books. I could go on a long time on that list of 'forgotten' Founder and Framers but I'll stop there. Jefferson used the state as the church every Sunday in his tenure as president. Unfortunately historical ignorance about Thomas Jefferson, namely people thinking the modern rewritten and bastardized 'history' that is taught in universities in any way accurately teaches the actual facts of the revolution, is what the poorly informed modern religious don't like about Thomas Jefferson. How about the supposedly 'secular' John Locke and his very influential work 'Two Treatises of Government'? The most cited source of Locke's political ideas, ideals, and theories was a British Christian theologian named Richard Hooker. In his landmark book, the 'secular' Locke states his overarching principles about law in a government that he describes: "The Law of Nature stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well as others. The rules that they make for other men's actions must . . . be conformable to the Law of Nature, i.e., to the will of God." or "Laws human must be made according to the general laws of Nature, and without contradiction to any positive law of Scripture, otherwise they are ill made. " This book and its ideas of laws of man being made on the laws of the Christian God is widely accepted as one the most influential on the American Revolution. Hence our Declaration of Independence and Constitution do just that. Parts of our 'secular' Constitution are lifted verbatim from the Christian Bible, many are directly inspired by it, and the debates at the Constitutional Convention make this point incontrovertible.

Hell I could go on for thousands of words on the 'revisionist' history that has convinced the poorly informed yet 'erudite scholar' of today of a 'secular', or at best 'deist' revolution. I always get a chuckle out of that nonsense. The lengths of revision that have occurred are mind boggling.

It goes directly against what James Madison wished on such a matter as to Christianity and our Founders, and men of note:

"A watchful eye must be kept on ourselves lest, while we are building ideal monuments of renown and bliss here, we neglect to have our names enrolled in the Annals of Heaven. ... I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ; and I wish you may give in your evidence in this way." - James Madison, in a letter encouraging William Bradford, the Attorney General in Washington's administration, to make his Christian beliefs known publicly and profess their influence on everything he did, as Madison so often did.

But the revisionists cite sections from letters of a Madison biographer 'discovered' in 1946, and similar sources, to try and paint a secular Madison in words. In those cases somehow... words always seem to speak louder than Madison's many actions and words from the period of the Revolution through his presidential administration. Madison too had church every Sunday in the state. Like Jefferson, the state literally WAS the church under Madison.

Anyway OP if you are so shocked!!! SHOCKED I tell you!!! 'shuddering' about meddling in text books by people with an agenda, where have you been for the last 40 years? It's been rampant. I would characterize the response to the media induced alarm about this stuff in Texas to someone turning on the news and being told to be outraged! that a tree was discovered in a forest that has some Christian traits to it, just ignore the other thousands of trees there in that forest and concentrate on this one. Just be more intellectually honest and say the media had an agenda in making sure the 'outrage' of this became nationally known, the 'anti Christian' agenda to be specific, and you agree with it.
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Old 03-14-10, 09:28 AM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

Originally Posted by SunMonkey View Post
History textbooks are a mess regardless of which side is controlling the bias. It is no better having a progressive slant than a conservative one. Until history textbooks are again written by historians, I don't imagine things will get any better, though.
Nice.
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Old 03-14-10, 11:03 AM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

The James Madison of 1816 was considerably different than the James Madison of 1789.
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Old 03-14-10, 05:38 PM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

I don't think that people with a biased agenda should be in charge of textbook alterations.

I don't know why people are bothered by separation of church and state. Do they want to take steps towards a theocracy like some places in the middle east have?

I think that's weak to change "capitalism" to "free market enterprise." The only time I've heard "capitalist pigs" was in the Austin Powers movie.

Some of the alterations seem okay like bringing up the Black Panthers and their methods during the Civil Rights movement. Growing we read about MLK and Rosa Parks but nothing about Malcom X, or the Black Panthers.
Of course, I would need to compare it to other movements documented in the textbooks and see if they make it a point to show other sides.


I'm sure I learned a white washed history in elementary but when I got to college my teacher made us read Lies My Teacher Told Me. Looking back she wasn't trying to make us objective, she was trying to push her beliefs on us. We never once learned about the wrongs that Cuba, China or the USSR did, but always how the Aztecs had a more harmonious lifestyle and how the US only makes up a small percentage of the world but controls half it's resources.
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Old 03-14-10, 06:56 PM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

Originally Posted by Dr Mabuse View Post
Like Jefferson, the state literally WAS the church under Madison.

Anyway OP if you are so shocked!!! SHOCKED I tell you!!! 'shuddering' about meddling in text books by people with an agenda, where have you been for the last 40 years?

...

Just be more intellectually honest and say the media had an agenda in making sure the 'outrage' of this became nationally known, the 'anti Christian' agenda to be specific, and you agree with it.
Okay. So does not listening to rap music mean you don't acknowledge the works of Frederick Douglass, Martin Luthor King Jr, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela and so on?
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Old 03-14-10, 07:00 PM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

This spells trouble for the 49 states with liberal curriculums!
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Old 03-14-10, 07:24 PM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

...managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone.
OK, here's the challenge. Ask 100 Texas high school students at the end of the year in which this adjusted history is presented the following question:

"Name one figure whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century?"

How many do you think would get it correct? It's not like they are writing Jefferson out of the history books.

This sort of ideological tampering of textbooks goes on in every state. Is it good? Of course not, but get 15 well-regarded college history professors in a room and try and get some semblance of agreement on the contents of a high school history text and see if there is less or more disagreement and controversy?
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Old 03-14-10, 09:42 PM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

Originally Posted by OldDude View Post
Apparently Texans are idiots and want to ensure their children will be as well.
That's fer damn sure!!
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Old 03-14-10, 10:20 PM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

Originally Posted by brayzie View Post
I think that's weak to change "capitalism" to "free market enterprise." The only time I've heard "capitalist pigs" was in the Austin Powers movie.
I'm confused by this one too. I thought capitalism was the bomb to these guys. Maybe they actually think that "Capitalism: A Love Story" isn't a toungue-in-cheek title or something.
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Old 03-15-10, 12:25 AM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

Perhaps they see it like the term "liberal." That's a dirty enough word that won't ever hear a president admit that he is one. Hell, most Democrats you meet will qualify it greatly.

This sounds like nothing to me, personally. My history book would give you the impression that Native Americans talked to the trees, lived in harmony with other tribes, etc. This stuff happens on both sides, and probably more on the other side.
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Old 03-15-10, 12:39 AM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

Who cares, it's not like any of the kids are going to remember this crap any way. If they are really interested, they can re-learn history again in college from real liberals.
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Old 03-15-10, 01:32 AM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

Isn't Texas going to secede from the United States?

Wish they'd hurry up and do it so we can put up that border fence.
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Old 03-15-10, 02:55 AM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

Let's compare Texas to California.
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Old 03-15-10, 09:01 AM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

"anti-Christian agenda"
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Old 03-15-10, 10:56 PM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

Texas does want you to know what a hero Joe McCarthy was:

<a href = "http://www.hnn.us/articles/124045.html">The Texas State Board of Education and the Vindication of Joe McCarthy</a>

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Old 03-15-10, 11:22 PM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

Page not found. But saying good things about McCarthy isn't hard. He is remembered for what he is remembered for just like Nixon is remembered for Watergate. But Nixon did some very good things. I don't think that is much different that books that want to tell you all the "bad" things the founding fathers did.
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Old 03-15-10, 11:28 PM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

I don't mind Texas. I don't mind Republicans. Its the interaction of the two that tends to make me stabby.

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Old 03-16-10, 10:57 AM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

Why not accommodate the governor and allow secession. What would it take?
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Old 03-16-10, 10:59 AM
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Re: Texas doesn't want you to know about Thomas Jefferson

I think Texas should exercise its option & divide up into 5 states.
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