Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Texas textbooks: Much ado about nothing

The controversy surrounding the new proposed standards of the Texas State Board of Education has become, once again, a fight for the truth. Those pundits who have made nonfactual claims about this proposed curriculum standard obviously haven't read the document, in any of its various renditions.

For example, David Dayne of FireDogLake claims that Thomas Jefferson has been excluded from the standard! Guess he forgot to actually read the standard, which is available at the Texas Board of Education web site.

This lie was also posted on a "news" item on the HuffPost in March, in which "ultraconservatives" were blamed for the changes. thinkprogress.com was cited as the source. How quickly lies spread in the age of the Internet. Doesn't anyone read documents and laws now? I guess if AG Eric Holder can condemn a law before he's actually read it, then why not the little people too. What's harmful is that thousands of readers actually believed the post, based on their comments, which are astounding on their own.

In reality, Thomas Jefferson is mentioned more predominately in the new standards. In addition, I noticed that the word "identify" was in many cases replaced with "evaluate" at the High School level. Rather than having students regurgitate facts, they will be required to understand events.

And of course, those brilliant legislators in Sacramento are at it again. Remember, these are the same idiots folks who have bankrupted California. According to Allvoices.com:
The State of California bill SB 1451 introduced by Senator Leland YeeLeland Yee, D-San Francisco states that the California Board of Education would be required to conduct school textbook reviews for content that reflects Texas curriculum changes as “a sharp departure from widely accepted historical teachings” and “a threat to the apolitical nature of public school governance and academic content standards in California.”
What rubbish, but what do you expect from the wingnuts on the left? I'll bet they have not read the proposed standards either. Oh, and by the way, which state in the Union is best for business (which means jobs) and which is the worse? See here, according to Chief Executive Magazine. According to this magazine, 70 percent of all new jobs created in the U.S. since 2008 have been in -- wait for it -- Texas. But I digress once again. Back to the textbook crisis.

Robert C. Koons, University of Texas professor, makes the case for the new standards in a post from the Austin statesmen.com:
Inclusion of neglected founders, including John Jay, Charles Carroll, John Peter Muhlenberg, John Witherspoon and John Trumbull, representing the religious diversity of early America.

Inclusion of the fine arts and culture and the contributions of scientists and inventors.

Emphasis on our common-law tradition, epitomized by the Commentaries of William Blackstone, the most commonly used textbook in our country for more than a century (used by everyone from Hamilton to Lincoln).

The opposition is relying on the Big Lie. This cynical effort will fail to influence the vast majority of Texans for one simple reason: the Internet. Texans can go to the Texas Education Agency website and read the new standards for themselves.

Opponents claim that the new standards neglect the contributions of women and ethnic minorities. The opposite is true: in every subject and at every level, the new standards increase their prominence. Just a few examples of the names added include Crispus Attucks, Jose Bernardo Guillermo de Lara, Wentworth Cheswell, Bernardo de Galvez, Juan de Onate, W.E.B. DuBois, Carmen Lomas Garza, Henry B. Gonzalez, Raul A. Gonzalez, Maria Mitchell, Ellen Ochoa, Jose Antonio Navarro, Irma Rangel, Juan Seguin, Phillis Wheatley, Lulu Belle White, Diane Gonzales Bertrand, Bessie Coleman, Tomie de Paola, Marcus Garvey, Lydia Mendoza, Kadir Nelson, Danny Olivas and Raymond Telles.
It's obvious that Professor Koons has read the new proposed standards, as I have.

The bottom line is: You can't believe everything you read on the Internet, even from supposedly "trusted" sources.

And yet, there will be people protesting in Austin this week over something that isn't true.

Linda Chaves adds some clarity to the whole education debate in a recent piece entitled American History, Not Ethnic Studies.

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