This story of the removal of the notion of the separation of church and state in text books in Texas if really alarming. A far-right faction of the Texas State Board of Education succeeded Friday in injecting conservative ideals into social studies, history and economics lessons that will be taught to millions of students for the next decade.
Teachers in Texas will be required to cover the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers, but not highlight the philosophical rationale for the separation of church and state. Curriculum standards also will describe the U.S. government as a "constitutional republic," rather than "democratic," and students will be required to study the decline in value of the U.S. dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard.
Ultraconservatives wielded their power over hundreds of subjects this week, introducing and rejecting amendments on everything from the civil rights movement to global politics. Hostilities flared and prompted a walkout Thursday by one of the board's most prominent Democrats, Mary Helen Berlanga of Corpus Christi, who accused her colleagues of "whitewashing" curriculum standards.
By late Thursday night, three other Democrats seemed to sense their futility and left, leaving Republicans to easily push through amendments heralding "American exceptionalism" and the U.S. free enterprise system, suggesting it thrives best absent excessive government intervention.
Republican Terri Leo, a member of the powerful Christian conservative voting bloc, called the standards "world class" and "exceptional."
The board rejected lessons about why the United States was founded on the principle of religious freedom”, while adding “references to “laws of nature and nature’s God” in lessons about major political ideas”. Students must study,
"The strong Judeo-Christian influences on the nation’s Founding Fathers, but there will be no coverage of the Bill of Rights “Establishment Clause” that was used to outlaw school-sponsored prayer and affirm separation of church and state in the U.S."
In addition to learning the Bill of Rights, the board specified a reference to the Second Amendment right to bear arms in a section about citizenship in a U.S. government class.
Conservatives beat back multiple attempts to include hip-hop as an example of a significant cultural movement.
Numerous attempts to add the names or references to important Hispanics throughout history also were denied, inducing one amendment that would specify that Tejanos died at the Alamo alongside Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie. Another amendment deleted a requirement that sociology students "explain how institutional racism is evident in American society."
References to Ralph Nader and Ross Perot are proposed to be removed, while Stonewall Jackson, the Confederate general, is to be listed as a role model for effective leadership, and the ideas in Jefferson Davis’s inaugural address are to be laid side by side with Abraham Lincoln’s speeches.
They also included a plank to ensure that students learn about “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation
, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association
What to do? Well, in Texas it appears little can be done. I believe the proposed changes are now in a period of public review and debate. I hope the national media shines a blinding light on the blatant attempt to rewrite history to benefit the desires of conservative, white, gun owning, god fearing America.
I hope the rest of this country pays attention and makes their voices heard.