Texas Spins History, Again

cowboy.jpgIn a straight party-line vote, ten people on the Texas "Board of Education" voted Friday to change history textbooks to advance right-wing ideological positions on historical matters (the five members of the other party voted against the measures as a whole). Because Texas is one of the most populous states in the union, the contents that it requires in its history books will affect the quality of historical education students receive in other states. (Hawai'i, for example, lacks the population leverage to push for a laid-back island view of history.) In all, the Board has passed over 100 amendments to the curriculum since the beginning of the year. According to the New York Times, "no historians, sociologists or economists" were consulted during the Board's meetings on these right-wing changes, which were spearheaded by board member and dentist Don McLeroy, who claimed expertise in a host of serious educational matters not involving tooth decay.

In the "highlights" of this Texas-sized historical spin, the Board:

* Required that students learn positive things about "Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association."

* Replaced the word "capitalism" with "free-market system."

* Ordered that students learn “the unintended consequences” of progressive legislation, including "Title IX legislation" (which protects the rights of girls to have equal athletic opportunities and has actually empowered generations of women to be physically stronger and psychologically more confident) and "Great Society" legislation, which includes Medicare (health care for the elderly), Medicaid (health care for the poorest members of our society), food stamps (to help keep the poorest families from starvation), public broadcasting (that helps ensure that press coverage is not only what commercial broadcasters and their corporate sponsors will permit), consumer protection (such as health warnings about tobacco), truth-in-lending laws (which were intended to help people know the true finance charges of some types of loans), civil rights laws (which includes the Voting Rights Act that prevented poll taxes and literacy tests to prevent the poor from participating in our democracy), and environmental legislation. Yep, there sure is a lot there for the right-wing to be concerned about -- little girls as athletes rather than simply cheering the boys on from the bleachers and efforts to help keep the poor from starving to death or dying from being denied basic medical assistance!

* Insisted that textbooks stress that Americans of German and Italian heritage were held by the government during World War II to undermine the historical fact that anti-Japanese racism led to exponentially greater numbers and proportions of the population of Americans of Japanese heritage being stripped of their property and moved to prison camps. (The Board wants to counter the idea that any "racism" was involved in Japanese internment decisions.) The attempt to make these black marks on our history of equal magnitude really is "white" washing.

* Demanded that McCarthyism be defended, because there were some actual communists who were discovered;

* Deleted founding father Thomas Jefferson "from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century," and replaced him with conservative religious figures St. Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin, and also made changes that called into question the U.S. tradition of the "separation of church and state," despite efforts of the Framers of the Constitution to ensure that no religious oaths were required by the Constitution among other protections from religious persecution or preferential treatment via the government.

* And blocked efforts to include more Latino Americans as examples of leaders in government, business, and society.

But don't worry, pard'ner, there's a thirty-day public comment period before the partisan Board ignores public sentiment and imposes its agenda on young minds in Texas and elsewhere. (And, Dr. McLeroy lost his primary last month to more moderate Republicans than he, but the right-wing block on the Board still has the votes to ratify its re-write of history.)

They really do make things big in Texas, including the spin and propaganda!

Lisa Graves is the Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy, the publisher of PRWatch.org, SourceWatch.org, and BanksterUSA.org.

Lisa Graves

Lisa Graves is President of the Board of the Center for Media and Democracy and President of True North Research. She is a well-known researcher, writer, and public speaker. Her research and analysis have been cited by every major paper in the country and featured in critically acclaimed books and documentaries, including Ava Du Vernay’s award-winning film, “The 13th,” Bill Moyers’s “United States of ALEC,” and Showtime’s “Years of Living Dangerously.”



"Texas" is a flavor. I'd suggest that the faster they spice up their education system, the faster will be the decay, right? Even in the best case, our public education system amounts to little more than nationalistic brainwashing. Any challenging intellectual stimulation was removed long ago, if it ever existed in the first instance. A person isn't going to learn anything meaningful in a Texas OR New York public school, so why not let them be colorful? Can you really get worked up about this? Like all things "public" in America, education is an industry segment - in this case book publishing. Publishers just want to sell books - - any kind of book to anyone. School systems are the buyers, and whatever the buyer wants, they'll get. If humans are going to stop educating themselves when the graduate high school or college, the species is doomed anyway. So what if the Texans will die embracing Phyllis Schafly, or McCarthy?

Why does everyone feel the need to constantly spin things for their own side. Is it really so hard for Texas to get a non-biased group together to study this issue? This is the third article I have read on this Texas issue. Hey Texas, you are being a little TOO right wing on this issue. The whole country is watching you, we see what you are doing.

if the right insists on politicizing eduction, school boards may find themselves defending more lawsuits, which can be expensive. the school board in Dover, Pennsylvania, spent no small amount of money defending the teaching of creationism in its public schools.

I am glad I graduated high school before they did that crap here in Oklahoma. I got a great history education at OCCC that they would consider "liberal bias". Screw Texas. I wish they would secede from the Union so the rest of our kids in other states don't get brain washed by their right wing propaganda.

History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon. -Napoleon Bonaparte. By that he sees history as lies. Don't worry buddies, this happens everywhere.

It's interesting to read about what's going on in Texas with regard to spin. Over hear in the UK there's a general election coming up and the spin doctors have been hard at work and comparable to what you've written about. It basically boils down to the fact that politicians will do anything to win votes- and that means making a big deal about tiny things that seem good and keeping zipped on the big bombshells!