The Texas State Board of Education voted on a new set of social studies materials on Friday. NPR reports:
That includes some 89 textbooks, workbooks and other classroom materials. The vote matters because, with about 5 million students, the state has a big impact on the national textbook market.
Well it also matters because 5 million students are a lot of students, and they need good textbooks too.
We know how the Texas Board of Ed is. It’s been colonized by Christian Nationalists, who want to teach Christian Nationalist things to captive students.
Consider one high school government textbook. It lists four thinkers who influenced the Founding Fathers.
“Three of those on the list make a lot of sense: John Locke, Montesquieu and Blackstone. Those are all either British philosophers or Enlightenment thinkers,” says Jennifer Graber, a professor at the University of Texas, Austin.
She says that these three thinkers are all quoted in America’s founding documents. But, for Graber, the fourth person on the list raised a red flag: Moses.
Moses for fuck’s sake. Because of the 10 commandments, no doubt – and how incredibly stupid is that. It’s a jejune little list of the obvious at best and a theocratic list of commands to grovel to god at worst. Don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t lie – yeah the people who wrote the US constitution didn’t need Moses to tell them that; it’s an obvious part of any workable social contract. Worship god, take the day off to worship god, don’t throw god’s name around – those are items that are not in the US constitution, and shouldn’t be.
Moses is, however, mentioned explicitly in Texas learning standards, which is why the publisher included him in its textbook (and this is not the publisher’s only textbook to include him).
The standards are called the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and were created in 2010. They state that high school students in U.S. government are expected to “identify the individuals, whose principles of laws and government institutions informed the American founding documents, including those of Moses, William Blackstone, John Locke, and Charles de Montesquieu.”
The majority Republican, 15-member Texas Board of Educationdefended the standards during meetings this week.
“Moses was not a Founding Father. However, I believe he did influence our Founding Fathers,” says Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio.
Piffle. Achilles and Hector, Lear and Hamlet probably influenced Jefferson and Adams and the gang a great deal more than Moses did.
“The standards suggest that slavery was only the third most important contributing factor to the Civil War, which we all know is ridiculous,” says Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, a left-leaning watchdog group. It contracted scholars at various universities to review the books.
The review found that at first, some publishers followed Texas’ lead, downplaying slavery’s role in the Civil War and emphasizing states’ rights. But, after a long public review process and many complaints, they made changes.
“Publishers have improved their books and made clear that slavery was the driving force behind the separation between the North and the South and the Civil War, so we’re pleased about that,” Miller says.
Typical frightened NPR, to pretend it’s “left-leaning” to prefer truth to bullshit. I think the Texas Freedom Network is secular rather than left-leaning, but I suppose in Texas secularism is automatically left-wing. Plus of course that whole pesky idea that slavery was a bad thing and we shouldn’t pretend it was never really an issue.