Emily (foresthouse) wrote,

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Get Your Politics Out of Our Textbooks

At first I thought this was a joke or ridiculous rumor, but I should have known better. It turns out to be true.

NY Times: Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change

There is so much FAIL in this that I almost get incoherent thinking about it. However:

"@cleolinda RT @txvoodoo: Via @billwhitefortx - email Rick Perry to oppose TX horrible new textbook ideas: http://bit.ly/9mARZt"

Apparently at the very least it is easy to register one's negative opinion of such changes to someone who might be able to fix this ridiculous action on the part of some of our politicians and fellow citizens.

"But you don't live in Texas!" you say. "Why do you care?" Well, because:

a) My family is a family of teachers. I care, as truly good teachers do, about the education of all young people; I value their place in the world, and the choices they will eventually make, and think that it's important for them to receive the most balanced view of our history and political system that we can present, so that they can make their life choices based on understanding and thought, rather than on blind rhetoric. And:

b) I am an attorney. I fully believe in fairness and in knowing all sides of a case before making a decision. This doesn't stop when I'm not considering an actual case. I think it is important in any decision-making. I think it is important for each person. And I think this action of the Texas Board of Education will negatively affect the abilities of those educated with these textbooks to understand all sides of historical or economical events and make decisions accordingly. And:

c) "@cleolinda: Re: TX textbooks: my understanding is that those textbooks will also be used across the country. It does affect you if you're in the U.S." And:

d) Even if that's NOT the case, Texas folk don't STAY in Texas. And people visit Texas. And Texas is one of our 50 states, and a big one, with significant voting power. Each citizen of this country has the power to affect the life and experiences of others, and the power to affect our political future. Do you really want the next generation to go around replying to political discussion or debate with statements like, "Over 200 years of decision-making, beginning with the words of Thomas Jefferson? We don't believe that! Ignore it! Our textbooks tell us there shouldn't be a separation of church and state! So let's vote accordingly!" I mean, really. Our country deserves better than that.

Anyway. If you care about this issue, please do something about it before May, when the Board of Education will take a final vote. One way is to email Governor Perry about it. I did. It's easy. They even have the letter already written, although I added some things at the beginning of mine.

Here is what mine said:

Dear Governor Perry,

As an attorney, as one of a family of educators that has been teaching Americans throughout generations, and as a descendant of some of those who originally signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, I am appalled by the recent article I read in the New York Times regarding partisan changes to be made to history and economics textbooks in Texas.


While I have no objection to a balanced history being presented (e.g. positive and negative actions of both conservative and liberal political elements throughout the years) politicians have no business and no right to invade the proper sphere of educators and subject matter experts in order to change the curriculum that will affect future generations by injecting their own political views and angles into that curriculum.

Furthermore, although I myself am a Christian, I do not agree that it is the right of or the proper role for conservative politicians to alter teaching tools such as textbooks just because they, for instance, "reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state" (a quote from the article). Whether a politician or member of the community agrees with this "notion" or not, it is the law, upheld by the highest judicial institution in the country, our Supreme Court. If politicians want to see a change in the way the Constitution is applied, or in other policies they do not agree with, the proper sphere for instituting that change is the legal system - NOT school textbooks!

The idea that conservative politicians are ignoring over 200 years of our country's history in order to advance their political views to the younger generation, instead of responsibly presenting history and the state of the law as it is and as it happened, is ludicrous and un-American. One of the main purposes of the particular system of government that was devised by the founders of this country is that it is to act as a system of checks and balances against radical change, allowing for the development of our legal and political system of governance through debate, discussion, and the will of the people as represented by the President, Congress, the judiciary, etc. To represent history, the law, and the government in a way different than it is, just because a politician wants it to look a certain way to the younger generation (e.g. that there is no separation between church and state or shouldn't be) is dishonest, irresponsible to future generations, and not something that should be happening in our educational system. There should be no concern as to whether "Republicans need...credit" for things they've done historically. Teaching children isn't about making sure your political party looks good, it's about ensuring students learn a balanced account of how we got to where we are today, so that they can approach the world from a perspective of understanding how it functions, and then make their own decisions about the part they want to play in it.

The vote by the Texas State Board of Education to change Texas' curriculum standards, led by your appointee for Chair, Gail Lowe, injected politics into our schools. I'm writing to ask you to urge your appointee and the rest of the board to send the proposed changes back to the original curriculum review teams.

These teams -- made up of teachers and subject matter experts -- drafted the original standards, and should review the amendments from the SBOE.

Our childrens' education is not a political game to be influenced by ideologues and partisan politics.

Thank you for urging the chair you appointed to lead the SBOE in reining in the politicization of the curriculum by sending the recent curriculum changes back for review by teachers and subject matter experts.



First Amendment to Post from Texas gal dachelle: "The Texas Freedom Network is a political action group that's fighting the textbook changes. I've donated and signed their petitions."

Second Amendment to Post: Here are a few more articles on the subject:

The Associated Press report.

And Reuters.

And the Dallas Morning News, which Reuters cites as reporting "some fine stuff on this and related subjects."

Please read the "Lasting Impact" section of that last article to see why YOU SHOULD CARE even if you don't live in Texas.
Tags: books, dachelle, news, politics, teaching, the internet iz serius biznes

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