History books becoming next fight in Texas schools

September 10, 2014 by Paul J. Weber

The next ideological fight over new textbooks for Texas classrooms intensified Wednesday with critics lambasting history lessons that they say exaggerate the influence of Moses in American democracy and negatively portray Muslims.

The first new social studies in Texas public schools since 2002 are slated for approval in November. Making the final decision is the State Board of Education, which last year approved new curriculum that teaches children that the phrase "separation of church and state" is not in the U.S. Constitution.

Left-leaning groups that led heated opposition to those changes are now girding for a new fight over social studies textbooks, which the board will publicly discuss at a meeting next week.

"A number of textbook passages essentially reflect the ideological beliefs of politicians on the rather than sound scholarship and factual history," said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund.

A passage in one textbook says, "Moses was a lawgiver and a great leader. Like the founders of the United States, he helped establish a legal system to govern his people. The Ten Commandments have been a guide and basis for many legal and moral systems throughout the world." Another disputed passage reads, "The Framers' political thinking was influenced by a Judeo-Christian religious heritage."

Others make sweeping generalizations about Islam and Muslims, according to the Miller's group, which teamed with university professors to review 43 textbooks that publishers submitted to the state for consideration last year.

Longtime board member David Bradley said he can't "fix unhappy" with Miller and others who have long battled the board. He said publishers have come a long way and praised the new textbooks for putting what he described as more emphasis on American exceptionalism.

"If they're complaining about the textbooks having an ideological bent, I'd have to think that they're pretty good," Bradley said.

Social and religious conservatives have long controlled the board, which has gotten attention in the past for efforts to deemphasize evolution in and for requiring students to evaluate whether the United Nations undermines U.S. sovereignty.

At a July meeting, board members heard from dozens of conservative activists who claimed that new national guidelines for teaching high school Advanced Placement U.S. History contained liberal biases, with some likening it to government mind control.

The board can't block Texas students from taking the course or the new exam. But board member Ken Mercer said he will introduce a non-binding resolution at next week's meeting that will condemn the course as reflecting "a radically revisionist view of American history that is critical of American exceptionalism and emphasizes negative aspects of our nation's history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects."

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5 / 5 (1) Sep 11, 2014
If you're going to joke, you could at least try to be funny.
5 / 5 (2) Sep 11, 2014
It's bizarre how people will fight FOR their country to fall behind.

more emphasis on American exceptionalism

Manifest destiny still lives on, eh?
...and these are the same people that decry others (e.g. muslims) for fanaticism. Go figure.
5 / 5 (2) Sep 12, 2014
Most people don't know that the Republic of Texas was the first and only White Supremacist state every formed.

In its first constitution, it restricted citizenship and property ownership to While Males of Northern European descent.

While most nations back then inherently practiced some sort of preference for those who shared the ruling clique's ethnic background, this is the only instance I can think of where racism alone was the deciding factor as the ethnic backgrounds of the original Texans were mixed White stock from Tennessee (often with denied Native Am. roots)

Ironically the motivation for asserting this wasn't racism. Rather it was the result of betrayal.

Texas only succeeded in seceding thanks to Mexican benedict arnolds who betrayed Mexico and supported the American rebels.

Once they won it, denying those Mexicans who helped them the right to be citizens of the New Republic was the fastest way to take their lands being that Spaniards weren't Northern Europeans.

5 / 5 (2) Sep 12, 2014
This is what early education in faith-based thinking does. It attaches negativity to evidence, encourages in-grouop fanaticism, and later in life makes one unhappy with reality. Fight against Sunday school and its cousins, madrassas and schules.

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