Saturday, April 24, 2010

Texas Rewrites History, Jeopardizing the Educational Future of Children Nationwide

Texas Rewrites History, Jeopardizing the Educational Future of Children Nationwide

Send your public comment opposing the extremist takeover of textbooks that will be studied by millions of students.

The Texas State Board of Education recently released amendments to the state's social studies curriculum which essentially rewrite history to comport with the personal, ideological and religious beliefs of some members of the board.

If the proposed changes are implemented, it could affect the education of students from kindergarten to 12th grade across the country for the next 10 years. Because Texas is one of the largest purchasers of textbooks nationwide, the changes the board makes to its standards often end up in textbooks purchased by other school districts around the country.

Among the more troubling recommendations are changes that minimize the importance of constitutional protections requiring the separation of church and state and that paint the country as rooted entirely in sectarian ideology—a claim that educators and historians dispute. For instance, the board eliminated a standard that would require students to "examine the reasons the Founding Fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others."

The proposed amendments also distort the rights of minorities and women and minimize their roles as historical figures. For example, Archbishop Oscar Romero, an important leader in the Hispanic community, was removed from the curriculum.
Meanwhile, under the proposed amendments, Confederate leaders are painted in a positive light. This pro-Confederacy bias may explain why civil rights movements—specifically those of African-Americans, Latinos and women—are given short shrift under the revised curriculum. This portrays such key advances as the result of government action and suggests that equality on paper equals equality in reality.

These changes will affect the education of a generation. If an entire generation of children grows up thinking that it's permissible for our government to favor one view of religion over others, what will the next generation believe? If these same children fail to understand the importance of the struggle for civil rights, how can we be sure that they will remain committed to correcting such abuses in the future?

Public schools should be used to educate—not indoctrinate—students on political and religious belief systems, and decisions about curriculum should be decided by educators, not politicians.

>> Take action! The public has 30 days to comment on the proposed amendments to the curriculum released last week. Send a letter to the Texas Board of Education and help stop the extremist takeover of textbooks

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