I’ve been involved in textbook battles for decades — conservatives/creationists have been smart, and worked to undermine elementary school education, and it’s been effective. The Texas Board of Education has been a running sore on science education for years. Check out the NCSE!
I’ve mainly been focused on science textbooks, but the rot goes all the way through to everything. To show that, Michael Harriot did something absolutely brilliant: he looked into the educational background of those prominent Republican opponents of critical race theory, and asked what these people were actually taught as kids. There’s a lot of work here, but it’s all public information. He just looked up where and when certain Republicans went to school, and then looked up what textbooks were in use, and read how they treated race in America.
Read it if you really want to know what kind of crap poisoned the young minds of Marsha Blackburn, Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham, John Kennedy, Mitch McConnell, Tommy Tuberville, and Tim Scott. The Daughters of the Confederacy were busy shaping children’s plastic little brains. Here, for example, is what Moscow Mitch was taught.
After moving to Louisville, Ky., and attending duPont Manual High School, McConnell would have learned from an education department that provides grants to Kentucky Educational Television for Kentucky’s Story, which still teaches this about slavery in Kentucky:
Because many owners and servants worked side by side or had frequent contact, the bond between them was more patriarchal than was the relationship shared by slaves and masters in other states. While exceptions can be noted, it is generally believed that Kentucky’s slaves experienced a less harsh life than did those living elsewhere…
Many aspects of the slaves’ lives resembled those of white laborers…In addition to these evening and Sunday activities, masters encouraged their chattels to engage in recreational activities, such as dancing and singing, that provided emotional release; happy slaves worked better than did discontented ones.
Religion also played an important role in the slaves’ existence. Churches encouraged masters to treat their people kindly and urged slaves to be good Christians, to serve their earthly masters as they would their heavenly father and to look for rewards in the hereafter for services rendered on earth.
It’s weird. There’s also this strange vibe where each state, in addition to claiming that they really treated slaves nicely, has to explain they were really so much better than those other Confederate, slave-holding states. They all had happy slaves, but our slaves were the happiest.
Unfortunately, Harriott doesn’t get around to analyzing Yankee textbooks — but there’s a fair amount of work in what he did cover, so I understand. I was educated in Washington state, a part of the country that wasn’t even a state at the time of the Civil War, and I have no recollection of learning anything about black people or civil rights. We sure learned about Lewis and Clark and the Whitman Massacre and Chief Joseph, though, which meant we were inculcated with the idea of the Noble Indian who had to fade away to make room for the heroic white destiny. There was also some mention of the Japanese internment, but, you know, we had to win the war. It was such a shock to learn that Jimi Hendrix was from Seattle. There are black people in Seattle? They didn’t teach us that, I had to find out for myself!
In my education, the schools committed the sin of omission, but at least my teachers skipped over the dancing, singing slaves and their kindly masters.
We also didn’t do horrifying in-class exercises like these:
Slavery was just like being denied recess!