– The Board removed Thomas Jefferson from the Texas curriculum, “replacing him with religious right icon John Calvin.”
…– The Board struck the word “democratic” from the description of the U.S. government, instead terming it a “constitutional republic.”
Unfortunately the word republic in the U.S has come to be associated with a certain political party, but its original intent when used by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson to describe the United States of America was from the Latin ‘res republica’ or a matter of public affair in which the people were represented by elected officials. Republic used within the context of Madison, Jefferson and John Adams original thought was a liberal institution that firmly rejected monarchism. While these founders contributed their own ideas of what a liberal republic would look like there is no mistaking the influence of liberal French philosophical proponents of republicanism. These are not small distinctions as China and the old Soviet Union called themselves republics and they have and had, respectively, constitutions. To simply say the United States is a “constitutional republic” is to remove the gulf of distinction between a free and open democratic republic and a totalitarian state that has codified set of rules for governing and yet has no democratic guarantees. The Texas school broad has shown it dangerous and insidious knowledge of history by ignoring the noble context of democratic republic. The NYT’s write-up does what the media has been trained to do by the Right – bend over backwards to let the flat earthers have their say without much questioning as to the historical or rational basis for their beliefs, Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change ( the title serves as a good example. Apparently there was some simple contest and the Cons won.)
After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.
That paragraph is a bend over backwards way of saying Conservatives forced through a rewrite of history that reflected the fairy tale version right-wing broad members have written in their head.
Efforts by Hispanic board members to include more Latino figures as role models for the state’s large Hispanic population were consistently defeated, prompting one member, Mary Helen Berlanga, to storm out of a meeting late Thursday night, saying, “They can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist.”
“They are going overboard, they are not experts, they are not historians,” she said. “They are rewriting history, not only of Texas but of the United States and the world.”
Didn’t someone once say the victors get to write their own history. The Texas Freedom Network writes,
Board member Cynthia Dunbar wants to change a standard having students study the impact of Enlightenment ideas on political revolutions from 1750 to the present. She wants to drop the reference to Enlightenment ideas (replacing with “the writings of”) and to Thomas Jefferson. She adds Thomas Aquinas and others. Jefferson’s ideas, she argues, were based on other political philosophers listed in the standards. We don’t buy her argument at all. Board member Bob Craig of Lubbock points out that the curriculum writers clearly wanted to students to study Enlightenment ideas and Jefferson. Could Dunbar’s problem be that Jefferson was a Deist? The board approves the amendment, taking Thomas Jefferson OUT of the world history standards.
Jefferson was a Deist and his views on religion are complicated. he write his own version of the Bible and once referred to the teachings of Jesus as some of the finest moral thoughts ever written. It is also clear from his draft of the Virginia Constitution and other writings that he was both a champion of religious freedom and suspicious of organized religion:
“No religious reading, instruction or exercise, shall be prescribed or practiced [in the elementary schools] inconsistent with the tenets of any religious sect or denomination.” –Thomas Jefferson: Elementary School Act, 1817. ME 17:425
“The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man.” –Thomas Jefferson to Jeremiah Moor, 1800.
“I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendency of one sect over another.” –Thomas Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry, 1799. ME 10:78
“The advocate of religious freedom is to expect neither peace nor forgiveness from [the clergy].” –Thomas Jefferson to Levi Lincoln, 1802. ME 10:305
“The clergy…believe that any portion of power confided to me [as President] will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion.” –Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush, 1800. ME 10:173
There is no mention of pro-American Revolution radical ( radical is not always a derisive term) Thomas Paine who wrote The Age of Reason which was very critical of organized religion and the clergy. In addition to questioning the holy authority of the Bible. If the cons on the Texas School Board want to teach the history of religion and its influence on America life and thought, by all means let’s do just that. We can cover all of Jefferson’s writings as well as Paine, and Benjamin Franklin who rarely attended church. Then we could move on to the Salem Witch Trials, and the Quakers who advocated sexual equality and the hanging of William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson for their religious beliefs ( that was before the U.S. became independent and had a Constitution protecting individual conscience as regards religion. Though even than the Quakers were considered something of a cult). How southern christian plantation owners used the Bible to justify slavery.
Conservatives and conservative Democrats have given capitalism a bad name. Now those of us who believe in a fair regulated capitalism can began to resuscitate its reputation, Is Capitalism A Bad Word?
The Texas Board of Education voted today to make changes sought by conservatives in the state’s social sciences curriculum, James C. McKinley reports.
In economics, the revisions add Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek, two champions of free-market economic theory, among the usual list of economists to be studied, like Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes. They also replaced the word “capitalism” throughout their texts with the “free-enterprise system.”
“Let’s face it, capitalism does have a negative connotation,” said one conservative member, Teri Leo. “You know, ‘capitalist pig!’ ”
And a related post – Texas education board refuses to require religious-freedom lesson
Conservative plans to go Stalin and turn textbooks into an indoctrination rather than an education have been in the works for a while. Actual education, critical thinking skills and balance are not on the Con list of priorities. Could Texas’ Gingrich-Based High School History Curriculum Go National?
The GOP-controlled State Board of Education is working on a new set of statewide textbook standards for, among other subjects, U.S. History Studies Since Reconstruction. And it turns out what the board decides may end up having implications far beyond the Lone Star State.
The first draft of the standards, released at the end of July, is a doozy. It lays out a kind of Human Events version of U.S. history.
Approved textbooks, the standards say, must teach the Texan student to “identify significant conservative advocacy organizations and individuals, such as Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly, and the Moral Majority.” No analogous liberal figures or groups are required…