Everyone loses when politicians set the curriculm standards, especially when those politicians are far right wing ideologues from deep East Texas. And when I say everyone, I don’t just mean everyone in Texas.
Texans are getting a clear view of what happens when politicians, instead of teachers and scholars, make the decisions about what our children learn in their public school classrooms.
The knee-jerk contempt that some members of the Texas State Board of Education have for true religious freedom, the expansion of rights and for general reform in America has been evident throughout much of the debate over proposed new social studies curriculum standards. That contempt was clear again yesterday in board member Don McLeroy’s newly proposed amendments to the standards.
The Texas State Board of Education is an embarrassment to Texas, and a danger to the entire country. It is time to dismantle it completely, and start over with professional educators. As too seldom recognized by people outside of Texas, what happens in the Texas SBOE doesn’t affect only Texas students. It is common practice for book publishers to simply create the books Texas wants, and then sell them to school districts everywhere1.
Why is that? Texas is the second largest textbook market in the nation. And in Texas, books are selected at the state level, and must be used by districts statewide. Publishers will do whatever it takes to ensure Texas approves their books. Before California’s budget collapse, they tended to offset the negative impact. No longer. So if that means that Thomas Jefferson is removed from social studies texts, or evolution is treated as an unproven “theory”, then so be it.
If textbooks are banned from discussion of gender and sex as social constructs2 so that students won’t be exposed to “transvestites, transsexuals and who knows what else,” then so be it. It’s high time we started having frank, open discussions with teens about the topic of sex and gender, and social pressures to conform to the norms. High school students know that some of their friends are LGBT. They need guidance in appropriate ways to handle that knowledge. Absent knowledge, there will be fear. And where fear exists, bigotry and abuse will follow.
This nation stands at a crossroads, in many ways. On the right side of the fork, we have a return to the past, and on the left, hope for the future. There’s plenty more of the right’s inanity available at the links in this post.
My vision is on the left. It’s an America where the color of your skin, the country of your birth, the genetic accident of your gender or sexual identity, or the choices you make for yourself don’t define your worth as a human. It’s an American where we don’t imprison our citizens for crimes that harm no one but themselves.
The choice is yours. Right or Left? Past or Future?