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Conservative Textbook Curriculum Passes Final Vote In Texas 895

Posted by Soulskill
from the maximum-truthiness dept.
suraj.sun sends in a followup to a story we've been following about the Texas Board of Education's efforts to put a more political spin on some of their state's textbooks. From the Dallas Morning News: "In a landmark move that will shape the future education of millions of Texas schoolchildren, the State Board of Education on Friday approved new curriculum standards for US history and other social studies courses that reflect a more conservative tone than in the past. Split along party lines, the board delivered a pair of 9-5 votes to adopt the new standards, which will dictate what is taught in all Texas schools and provide the basis for future textbooks and student achievement tests over the next decade. Texas standards often wind up being taught in other states because national publishers typically tailor their materials to Texas, one of the biggest textbook purchasers in the country. Approval came after the GOP-dominated board approved a new curriculum standard that would encourage high school students to question the legal doctrine of church-state separation — a sore point for social conservative groups who disagree with court decisions that have affirmed the doctrine, including the ban on school-sponsored prayer."
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Conservative Textbook Curriculum Passes Final Vote In Texas

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  • by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Saturday May 22, 2010 @01:24PM (#32306542) Homepage Journal

    We either need the DOE to take control of this kind of thing, or we need the other states to be willing to go through this process for themselves.

    • by j0nb0y (107699) <jonboy300&yahoo,com> on Saturday May 22, 2010 @01:51PM (#32306822) Homepage

      I'm a conservative. My real problem with this is that a strong central government (Texas) is making decisions that should be made at the local level.

      As such, having the DOE take control of educational standards is not a good solution. There's currently a Democrat in the White House, but how would you feel if a Republican took control and shoved Texas style standards through the DOE, having nation wide effect?

      These are decisions that should be made by communities and teachers, not bureaucrats.

      • by Surt (22457) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @02:01PM (#32306938) Homepage Journal

        The progressive side of the argument says: look at what happens in Kansas. Don't we have a responsibility to protect those children from what their community wants to teach them? Their community is going to render them unemployable and dirt poor.

        Maybe the best option is to have all of federal, state and local requirements, and to ensure that teaching to the federal/state standards requires no more than 1/3rd the total time for each.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Don't we have a responsibility to protect those children from what their community wants to teach them?

          No.

        • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @04:10PM (#32308104)

          Don't we have a responsibility to protect those children from what their community wants to teach them?

          I'll tell you what I told my ultra-religious grandmother. Don't set a precedent that you wouldn't want to follow when you aren't in power. Think having Christian laws is a good idea? What happens when you lose the majority and Muslims get a chance to write their own.

          As much as you might believe that what you know is best for everyone, you would be wrong. Who are you to decide what is best for a community? Who are they to decide what is best for your community? The best laws are those that allow the most local form of governance possible and ensure that those communities coexist peacefully and equitably.

          So in short, no.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by interkin3tic (1469267)

          The progressive side of the argument says: look at what happens in Kansas. Don't we have a responsibility to protect those children from what their community wants to teach them? Their community is going to render them unemployable and dirt poor.

          As a scientist who went to a Kansas high school during the controversy you're probably referring to, I have to say the biggest effect is other scientists asking if they taught me evolution in high school (they did, but that's beside the point). For most scientists, high school did nothing to encourage and interest in science regardless of a liberal/conservative bias.

          If the idiots on the school board decide not to require the teaching of evolution, your teacher in the classroom is probably going to teach it

      • by adamchou (993073) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @02:14PM (#32307038)
        Your ideas are fine and all but the real issue here isn't the fact that decisions were made at the wrong level. The problem here is that decisions are being made by a group of people with an agenda to pass that completely goes against our countries constitution. Even worse, they're trying to educate our future children concepts that are polar opposites of what our country was founded upon.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TopSpin (753)

      We either need the DOE to take control of this kind of thing, or we need the other states to be willing to go through this process for themselves.

      California is much larger than Texas in terms of education spending. Florida isn't far behind. You'll be surprised to learn that both of these states have school boards of their own that are highly unlikely to capitulate to the demands or agendas of Texas. Publishers are not so foolish as to believe they are going to sell whatever material TX comes up with in CA or elsewhere just because TX says so. In fact they will, in all likelihood, delight in the opportunity to reject and ridicule it. You may rest

  • I for one (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Herkum01 (592704) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @01:25PM (#32306554)

    Welcome to the new American Taliban.

    Finally they are no longer pretending to be like the rest of us.

  • Texas (Score:5, Funny)

    by crumbz (41803) <<remove_spam>jus ... o spam>gmail.com> on Saturday May 22, 2010 @01:25PM (#32306556) Homepage

    Still fighting the American Civil War in 2010.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ColdWetDog (752185)
      Save your Dixie cups! The South shall rise again!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ArsonSmith (13997)

      the desire to centralize government always comes in the guise of a hero on a white horse. The fight to keep or free slaves was not fought because of the slaves it was due to power grabs from the federal government. You could say that the Democrats really liked having their slaves and the Republicans were trying to free them, but in reality, the Republicans were just grabbing for power, like usual, while the Democrats where trying to keep their right to chose, slavery.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bugi (8479)

      Still fighting the crusades in 2010. They made a full frontal attack on 1st amendment. They only knocked the 13th amendment around a little. Don't worry though, you can be sure that's next.

      Note: I'm perfectly fine with teaching about the religious fundamentalism that was part of our early history. It's erasing the parts about how and why we have slowly overcome our collective bigotry to become the largely pluralistic society we are today that bugs me.

  • by Nakor BlueRider (1504491) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @01:26PM (#32306562)
    Setting aside questions about Texas itself for the moment, I wonder if this will cause other states to go to greater lengths to separate their curriculum from Texas's. The curriculum change got a lot of opposition in Texas, and I can only imagine it would get a far greater amount in many of the other states, especially the more liberal ones.
    • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Saturday May 22, 2010 @01:37PM (#32306680) Homepage Journal

      California is all over this already. They're pushing to ban all textbooks using Texas' information.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by phantomfive (622387)
        California legislature is anxious and eager to do anything that distracts them from the budget problem. Watching them is almost like watching little kids.

        Not that I disagree with them particularly in this case, but California already has its own textbook system, and if anything is more influential than Texas. And since I'm complaining, I would like to point out that the California textbook selection method isn't very good, and if the California legislature wanted to focus on textbooks, they should get aro
  • The conservatives often complain that we spend too much money on education costs. But yet they then want to rewrite all the textbooks to meet their own versions of history. In the end, aren't they just increasing the costs of education, by forcing schools to buy new textbooks that meet the new standards? This seems counter to the "free market", "don't tread on me" idealism that they were pushing not too long ago...
    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Saturday May 22, 2010 @02:06PM (#32306970) Homepage Journal

      They don't sound so "conservative" to me. Lies are conservative?

      Environmentalism=conservation, "conservatives"=anti-environmentalism.

      Constitution: separation of church and state (what could be more conservative than the basis of all US law?). "Conservatives": church in state=sponsored schools.

      The list goes on. The only thing they want to conserve is the rich's wealth. "Antiprogress" is a better label than "conservative".

      These "conservatives" are anti-American.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Surt (22457)

      You're assuming those are the same conservatives. In fact, you're almost certainly addressing two almost entirely different factions within the movement, the economic and social conservatives. They have only the thinnest of threads in common, but are allied because they would lose every election if they competed for votes.

    • social conservatism is all about a simplistic model of human behavior: teenagers, just don't have sex, homosexuals, just stop being homosexual, just say no to drugs, etc.

      ironically, social conservatives always wind up breaking their own principles. just examine the folly of anti-homosexual activists found in homosexual situations form throughout history, especially recent, for examples. and you can bet the daughters of politicians who rail against abortion are secretly flown to canada when a "problem" happens

      social conservatism is always "do as i say, not as i do". and there isn't really any malice in their simple-mindedness. most of them sincerely believe their own dunderheaded takes on human nature, and then wind up paying the price for their simpleminded edicts on human behavior

      human nature is complex, and when forced into simplistic models, you just wind up causing more suffering than you are attempting to stop. this isn't an attempt to excuse lack of responsibility or criminal activity, its a simple obvious statement that the real world is more complex than very simpleminded teachings

      social conservatives are not evil, they're just stupid

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @01:27PM (#32306582) Homepage Journal

    Those who control the present, control the past. Those who control the past, control the future.

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @01:33PM (#32306632)

    encourage high school students to question the legal doctrine of church-state separation -- a sore point for social conservative groups who disagree with court decisions that have affirmed the doctrine, including the ban on school-sponsored prayer.

    While there are numerous problems with the curriculum, isn't teaching students to be skeptical of government a good thing? If you blindly follow what the government says, democracy in a free society falls apart.

    A free thinking individual should be skeptical of all things the government has done, question the motives for various laws and if they believe they are unjust, vote against them or otherwise try to get them repealed.

    There are some good examples in this particular case. It just comes down to interpretation.

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Is the actual text, it says nowhere about "separation of church and state" it comes down to interpretation if school prayer is a violation of establishing a national religion.

    Really, out of all the things wrong in the Texas curriculum why does TFS point out something that could very well be a benefit. Teaching students to question government.

    • by Calydor (739835) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @01:37PM (#32306684)

      Because this isn't about questioning government per se.

      It's about questioning why America doesn't allow the church to create laws.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      encourage high school students to question the legal doctrine of church-state separation -- a sore point for social conservative groups who disagree with court decisions that have affirmed the doctrine, including the ban on school-sponsored prayer.

      While there are numerous problems with the curriculum, isn't teaching students to be skeptical of government a good thing?

      No. Teaching them to be skeptical of the government in general is a good thing. Teaching them to be skeptical about certain, well established, historical occurrences is not a good thing. They are not teaching kids to be skeptical of the government, but to question the history researched by many,many historians in favor of history as these politicians would like it to be.

      Is[sic] the actual text, it says nowhere about "separation of church and state" it comes down to interpretation if school prayer is a violation of establishing a national religion.

      No, which is why we have to read all the letters and essays written by the people who wrote that portion of the constitution. Clearly it wa

  • by starseeker (141897) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @01:38PM (#32306692) Homepage

    "We need to have students compare and contrast this current view of separation of church and state with the actual language in the First Amendment," said McLeroy, who like other social conservatives contends that separation of church and state was established in the law only by activist judges and not by the Constitution or Bill of Rights.

    I don't suppose this and statements like "Christian land governed by Christian principles" would provide ammunition for a lawsuit that the State Board of Education is itself guilty of a violation of the separation of church and state? It's not evolution, to be sure, but the motivation sounds, based on these accounts, to be highly suspect.

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @01:47PM (#32306780)
      Look at the constitution.

      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

      It is entirely up to interpretation if allowing prayer in schools constitutes an "establishment of religion" or whether it is "prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

      Nowhere in the constitution does it say that there is "separation of church and state" all that the constitution says it that congress can't pass any laws forbidding you from practicing your religion and from establishing a national religion. Such claims are, as rightfully stated, matters of interpretation.

      That isn't to say that I don't agree with the interpretation, but it is just that: an interpretation.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Sorry, but prayer led by state paid employees in a state-funded institution i.e. public school is obviously establishment of a state religion.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by El Cubano (631386)

          Sorry, but prayer led by state paid employees in a state-funded institution i.e. public school is obviously establishment of a state religion.

          Let's try a little word substitution:

          Sorry, but prayer led by state paid chaplain in a state-funded institution i.e. state penitentiary is obviously establishment of a state religion.

          Or how about this one:

          Sorry, but prayer led by military chaplain in a military-funded institution i.e. chapel is obviously establishment of a state religion.

          What about if the "employee" is not paid? What about when congress opens its session with a prayer? (That is done at the opening of every congress, IIRC.) What about

          • by jeff4747 (256583) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @09:48PM (#32310674)

            Sorry, but prayer led by state paid chaplain in a state-funded institution i.e. state penitentiary is obviously establishment of a state religion.

            Sorry, but prayer led by military chaplain in a military-funded institution i.e. chapel is obviously establishment of a state religion.

            In both of these cases, neither the prayer or the entire service is required. In addition, the people involved are adults, and thus far more able to say "no".

            When school prayer was common, teachers and administrators made it absolutely clear to the students that prayer was required. And since the students are kids, they're not likely to say "no" when pressed - if the students even have the right to say "no". After all, the school is acting in loco parentis.

            Think of it this way: Would you be comfortable if teachers told your kids they had to pray to Allah? If you are not happy with that plan, then you should not be happy with forcing others to pray to your god.

      • by sstamps (39313) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @02:42PM (#32307320) Homepage

        It is entirely up to interpretation if allowing prayer in schools constitutes an "establishment of religion" or whether it is "prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

        Disallowing prayer in schools *IS* "prohibiting the free exercise thereof". REQUIRING prayer, or even LEADING prayer constitutes an "establishment of religion". Both are similarly odious, and both must be denied / stopped / prevented under the law.

        Simply put, if the kids want to pray, let them pray, and to whomever and about whatever they please. However, the teachers, administrators, counselors, etc, should not be leading said prayer, nor should the school policies require it in any way, shape, or form.

        Besides, to whom, for whom, or for what reason are the kids going to be required to pray / led to pray? That's where this gets sticky. Muslims and Jews aren't going to pray to Jesus. Atheists aren't going to pray to anyone. Buddhists and Hindus are going to be looking at each other going "wtf?".

        That's why the whole notion of challenging the foundational concept of the separation of church and state is, to put it very mildly, so wrong.

        We've been going at this for over two centuries, and we're still debating this? It's settled. It's done. It is just and correct. Leave it the hell alone. (I know I am mostly preaching to the choir here; it is just a mini-rant directed at the "conservatives" in Texas rehashing this stupidity).

        • Atheists aren't going to pray to anyone.

          not true. I'm going to pray to Joe Pesci.

          To quote George Carlin:

          You know who I pray to? Joe Pesci. Joe Pesci. Two reasons; first of all, I think he's a good actor. Ok. To me, that counts. Second; he looks like a guy who can get things done. Joe Pesci doesn't fuck around. Doesn't fuck around. In fact, Joe Pesci came through on a couple of things that god was having trouble with. For years I asked god to do something about my noisy neighbor with the barking dog. Joe Pesci straightened that cock-sucker out with one visit.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by coaxial (28297)

        It is entirely up to interpretation if allowing prayer in schools constitutes an "establishment of religion" or whether it is "prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

        Except no prevents anyone from praying in school. What is prevented is leading a prayer in school. Think about out it? Why would any organization whose express purpose is irrelevant to religion, engage in religion? What prayer would be led? I bet that if someone stood up in front of those that advocate for government sponsored prayer and started "Oh Dark Lord ..." or even "Lord Alllah..." they'd be outraged. The fact is that institutionalized prayer is coercive. Everyone wants to fit in and not fee

  • by starseeker (141897) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @01:53PM (#32306836) Homepage

    I've wondered about this for a while now - couldn't universities ban together and commit some resources (a small contribution from a large number of schools) to create a K-12 series of texts on major subjects, that is designed by the best available experts and freely available for all districts to use? Creative Commons licensing (oddly enough, CC has a link right now to Virginia's Department of Education and some work they are doing) and (insofar as is humanly possible) a focus on just the facts of history and their documentable consequences. To enforce some objective standard of what constitutes a fact, require documented citations to primary historical sources for all parts of the book asserting facts - preferably citations with links to the source material. The final form of the textbook delivered to students wouldn't necessarily include those references, but they would be present online and mandatory for anything that reached the "final" version. Let the broader college professor community decide on the acceptability of/validity of any particular cited source.

    Not only would this provide a mechanism for creation and distribution of textbooks that wouldn't be easily influenced by political agendas (tenured professors are about as pressure-proof as we're likely to get and still have sufficient domain knowledge to do useful work) but it would make good quality teaching materials universally and cheaply available. If school districts didn't have to pony up so much money for textbooks, what else could they do with the money?

  • by Dhalka226 (559740) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @01:55PM (#32306860)

    "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," board member Don McLeroy said in March [cnn.com].

    In other words: "Despite being a two-bit politician on a school board, I'm going to ignore what even I call the experts' views and bend curriculum to support my political whims because I am a fucking retard."

  • by krupan (1816340) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @02:13PM (#32307026)
    Regardless of what decisions they make, does it bother anyone else that a board or 15 people apparently decides the curriculum for the whole country? Seems like that would be the first thing to fix.
  • by Suzuran (163234) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @02:35PM (#32307240)

    This is not "Conservative"! Using "Conservative" to describe this is like using "Hacker" to describe script kiddies, or "Canadian Goose" to instead of "Canada Goose". It's popular, but it's still wrong!

    Conservative means a limited government with limited power to interfere in the lives of individual citizens; That is, the government has no jurisdiction over (and therefore cannot interfere in) gay marriage, abortion, individual educational materials, etc. These "Conservatives" want a large oppressive government to force their social and religious agendas on the citizenry; That is not conservative! It's the opposite! Stop calling it that!

  • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @03:06PM (#32307498) Homepage Journal
    it should be 'medieval' or 'brain dead'. as an example, observe the below post how a registered poster unhesitatingly describes the founder of his nation being sidelined in text books as 'facts returning to textbooks' :

    The entire education system in U.S. has a very left bias. Our kids are being indoctrinated, not taught. This is good because these textbooks return facts to the books. The left wing bias of most posters here is disconcerting. You all post as if your minority view is the correct one. America is a Center-Right Country. Always has been. Our kids need to be taught facts, not leftist ideology and indoctrinated with lies and bias. So, any movement to put facts into textbooks is a good one.

  • by bgspence (155914) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @03:17PM (#32307588)

    These things can be fixed by a couple of well placed SAT questions.

    (So, is it time the country to secede from Texas?)

  • Real Motives (Score:3, Insightful)

    by quantaman (517394) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @03:32PM (#32307710)

    There's a lot of conservatives who hate the idea of state education and want all the schools to be private with no government standards. Cynthia Dunbar, one of the bigger whackjobs on the board, isn't a fan of public schools according to her book where She calls public education a "subtly deceptive tool of perversion." The establishment of public schools is unconstitutional and even "tyrannical" [chron.com].

    I wonder if that motivation isn't at play here, try to politicize the education standards so much that people lose faith in a state run education system.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RazorSharp (1418697)

      It's sad that someone on a public board of education doesn't believe in public education. Perhaps Texas should follow this model and hire police officers who don't believe in serving/protecting and firefighters who don't believe in putting out fires. Kind of sounds like Fahrenheit 451.

  • by paper tape (724398) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @03:35PM (#32307752)
    I've yet to see an unbiased point-by-point comparison between the new and old standards. Everyone reporting on the issue seems to have an axe to grind, and most often with the aim of inflaming as many of those who agree with their view as possible. Most of what we've seen reported hasn't even been actual text from the books - but rather paraphrased 'goals' written by those with an agenda, or out-of-context quotes.

    Until we see that sort of comparison, I would suggest that most of the hyperbole and histrionics are premature.
  • by Trailwalker (648636) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @03:38PM (#32307774)
    The students who actually study the issues will see the differences of opinion and fact, and draw their own conclusions.Those who just accept the printed information usually do not care one way or the other.

    As the students raise through the educational system, they will be exposed to other viewpoints, and can decide for themselves.

    There is an assumption in these posts that all students in Texas are no more than blank screens waiting for the bigots of this view or that to propagandize them into mindless conformity. When the hell have teens been in conformity to anything adults value?

    I believe that the Texas School Board is doing nothing but posturing for future political purposes.
  • by SheeEttin (899897) <sheeettin@@@gmail...com> on Saturday May 22, 2010 @03:53PM (#32307950) Homepage
    My little brother is a Boy Scout, so I've attended some of the ceremonies. One thing that's always struck me is there's usually a period in which the leader of the ceremony says something along the lines of "We now ask that you join us in a moment of silence/prayer (I don't remember which), each in your own way." followed by the moment of silence.
    Why couldn't the schools take the same attitude? It's not that acknowledging religion is illegal/unconstitutional, it's that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" (although that, of course, only applies to Congress, not the states).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nawcom (941663)

      My little brother is a Boy Scout, so I've attended some of the ceremonies. One thing that's always struck me is there's usually a period in which the leader of the ceremony says something along the lines of "We now ask that you join us in a moment of silence/prayer (I don't remember which), each in your own way." followed by the moment of silence. Why couldn't the schools take the same attitude? It's not that acknowledging religion is illegal/unconstitutional, it's that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" (although that, of course, only applies to Congress, not the states).

      I was kicked out of Boy Scouts when I was 15 when I became confident in the lack of a god, a Christian god to be specific of what I was taught as a child.

      The reason I got kicked out was because I didn't want to remain silent of my lack of such a belief.

      You can believe that those silences lack specific meaning all you want, I know for a fact that you need to bow down and be reverent to a higher power, or if you don't you need to keep your mouth shut in order to be and remain a Boy Scout, and that prayer wa

  • by tgibbs (83782) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @04:30PM (#32308312)

    I took Texas history back in the 60's, and once I had the chance to read some real history, I was shocked to discover how dishonest and misleading the curriculum had been, mostly in ways that seemed designed to promote racism.

  • by Luke has no name (1423139) <fox@@@cyberfoxfire...com> on Saturday May 22, 2010 @04:52PM (#32308490)

    Keep trolling. Who can cite an actual argument made by the board on a change they're making on the curriculum? Know why they're talking less about Jefferson? Read [google.com].

    I bet a lot of people on here are disappointed there is no mention of how America under Democratic leadership is finally moving beyond the radical Capitalist experiment.

  • Seriously? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bmo (77928) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @07:46PM (#32309816)

    Question the separation of church and state?

    If you want the church in your state, you deserve the state in your church.

    You might want to rethink your cunning plan, cowboy.

    --
    BMO

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