Texas tilts right on history standards

Saying that history teaching has tilted to the left, conservative school board members have modified Texas’ newly approved social studies curriculum, reports the New York Times. 

The new curriculum stresses the Christian beliefs of the Founders.  

Thomas Jefferson, disliked for coining  “separation of church and state,” was dumped from the list of people “whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century.” He was replaced by St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone.

Mavis B. Knight, a Democrat from Dallas, introduced an amendment requiring that students study the reasons “the founding fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring the government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others.”

It was defeated on a party-line vote.

Board members decided students should 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.”

Students also will study “the unintended consequences” of the Great Society legislation, affirmative action and Title IX legislation.

Because Texas buys so many textbooks, it influences what’s available in other states.

Update: The changes are fair and balanced, writes Greg Halvorson on American Thinker.

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  1. tim-10-ber says:

    no wonder this subject is no longer called history but rather social studies — it is the social studies of the legislators…i have always thought our history books were “light” in historical fact…if only history textbooks would teach kids about the good, bad and ugly of this country and the history to date…maybe, maybe history would stop repeating itself…

    it is spring break…i can dream, can’t i?

  2. Well, we know that the other biggest state of influence is California – so one has to suppose that creates a choice for smaller states.

  3. What percent of the U.S. population would know who William Blackstone is without Googling him? What percent of the population would know who Thomas Jefferson is?

    Not to mention that both Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin lived well prior to the 17th century…

  4. That should read “prior to the 18th century”.

    And FWIW, I lean conservative…

  5. I found this interesting.

    It’s true, because of court cases, we tend to think there’s a specific clause regarding separation of church and state. There isn’t. The founding fathers, heavily Christian, except for Jefferson, wanted to protect religion, not marginalize it. They advocated freedom for religion, not from religion, if their writings can be taken at face value.

    Nor is there a reference to a “right of privacy” in the constitution.

    Ah, Texas. A lot of charming people live there, but it’s a strange place.

    Also in the news is Ry Cooder’s collaboration with the Chieftans on “San Patricio.” I doubt if it will get much airplay in Texas.

    It seems to me what Texas is adding is simply history. It’s what they’re leaving out some might find alarming — or amusing.

    Those Irish conscripts who switched sides during the war with Mexico are heroes. A shame there won’t me any mention of them in the Texan textbooks.

    The good news is, what they put in their textbooks or what they leave out isn’t going to matter much.

    If Texan children learn how to read and write and think, they’ll find a way to rise above the petty prejudices of the state school board.

  6. At the time of the Revolution, the primary overall influence was that of English colonists (although other influences operated on a regional basis; Dutch, German, French etc) and the legal tradition was that of English common law. However, one of the primary reasons early colonists came here was for freedom to practice their religion. In Europe, there was a tradition of a state religion (Church of England) which received benefits other religions did not, even if other religions were allowed (often they weren’t). Charleston was settled by the Huguenots, who were thrown out of France because they were Protestants. My understanding is that is the meaning of freedom of religion; all are allowed to worship as they see fit, but no religion is given special status. It does not mean freedom from religion and to argue that flies in the face of reason; the many references to Providence, the Almighty in the foundational documents, even the words on our currency, prove otherwise.

  7. momof4…
    in the declaration of independence… yes…
    but you will not find any reference to God in the U.S. Constitution… and that was intentional.

    Freedom of religion also must include freedom from religion… you cannot force nonreligious people to practice or to believe.
    Certainly though, I’d be happy to compromise if we teach the religious views of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson in their entirety… somehow I don’t think Christian conservatives would be happy about that.

    Although the phrase “separation of church and state” is no where in the Constitution, if you read the writings of Madison, who wrote the Constitution, he makes it VERY clear that is what he meant…

  8. I did not say that there were references to God in the Constitution. However, I do not believe that freedom from religion was ever intended; the issue is freedom to practice (or not practice) according to one’s beliefs, in the certainty that the State would neither interfere nor accord standing or benefits to one faith over others. I don’t think that Madison intended to banish all religious references from civic life and institutions. And I would be happy to include Jefferson’s and Franklin’s views in the school discussions and resources, as I would recognize that there were non-Christian, non-atheist Americans (Jewish, pagan,certainly and no doubt others)as well.

  9. tim-10-ber says:

    According to huffington post


    texas is eliminating jefferson from the textbook

    is this right?

  10. No, of course it’s not right. They are, as Joanne’s post said and the NY times makes clear, eliminating him from the list of writers who inspired revolutions in the 18th century (which is not, please note, the same as having lived in the 18th century). I don’t think Jefferson was particularly influential; I imagine that they have Locke, Hume, and Montesquieu on the list already.

    The founding fathers, heavily Christian, except for Jefferson, wanted to protect religion, not marginalize it.

    This is untrue. Most of the founding fathers were Deists without acknowledging it or barely observant Anglicans.

  11. Actually, if one reads the draft wordings for the Establishment Clause it is clear that what the Founding Fathers intended was to prevent the establishment of a “Church of America” akin to the Church of England and other official state churches in Europe at the time.

  12. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Let’s see, I’m pretty sure “religion” refers to God in some form.

    Of course, Bush and Co. had no problem with prohibiting freedom of speech and the right of the people peaceably to assemble.

  13. Mike in Texas,

    Considering you had on an almost daily basis hundreds of people congregating to burn President Bush in effigy, as well as music, books, and movies denouncing him over and over again, calling for prosecution or execution, that last comment was about the most braindead I have ever seen posted on this site.

  14. Oh, you don’t know the half of it.

    In microscopic kingdom ruled by Mike in Texas, his blog, there’s no freedom of speech for commenters that don’t agree with the party line.

    This whole controversy does provide a nice, little datapoint in support of the idea that politics and education inevitably result in the latter suffering at the hands of the former.

    My guess is that the underlying rationale for the Texas textbook commission, economies of scale, don’t actually result in lower textbook prices. More then likely, just the opposite.

  15. Obi,

    Point #1, the comment was made the Constitution has no references to God, I say the mere mention of the word “religion” is a reference.

    Point #2, perhaps you haven’t read of people being removed from Bush appearences, or even planned travel routes, for their anti-war, anti-Bush opinions and their desire to see him prosecuted.

    If you wanna talk brain dead, let’s talk about people who still support a president who:

    – had the largest terrorist attack in US history occur on his watch. Under Bush “accountability” the National Security Advisor got a promotion for her failure.

    – allowed our economy to be wrecked by his corporate buddies, along with removing safeguards for the environment that had been in place for years.

    – led us into a (so far) 7 war over non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

    – speaking of wars, how about his little venture into Afghanistan? Remember that place? Where the people who masterminded September 11th were actually located? Instead of crushing them with the full might of the US military, he went into that war, the REAL war we should have been fighting, with less than 10, 000 troops initially. Nine years later we are still trying to win that one.

  16. SuperSub says:

    MiT –

    – You may as well fault the Clinton administration also concerning Al Queda… they too failed to stop the rise of the jihadists. The point is, pretty much no one (Republican, Democrat, or an actual sane person) could have expected 9/11. Well, maybe Tom Clancy.

    – Ditto on the economy. The growth in economy since the 1990’s was based upon a very shaky system of credit. Very little of the growth in the Dow Jones was based upon actual manufacturing, instead stocks rose primarily due to banks siphoning/leeching off of financial transactions. 9/11 and the collapse of the housing bubble threw a wrench into that system, and it also collapsed.

    – Iraq. Personally, I supported the war on the sole basis that Iraq faulted on the terms of the Gulf War cease fire by not freely allowing inspections. I had been advocating invading Iraq since the Clinton years.

    – Everyone is talking about how long it will take to pacify Iraq. Quite frankly, due to the culture and history of Afghanistan, I don’t ever expect it to be pacified. It is a rat’s nest and it will be impossible for a central government to be able to rule the entire country. The best that could be done was to put a dent into Al Queda’s operations and then to hit them again when necessary.

    Iraq, on the other hand, has the geography and infrastructure to establish an effective central government. It will take time, but its possible, unlike in Afghanistan.

    I have read of many people being removed from political events who went there to criticize Bush. From what I have read, though, the individuals were removed not for their views but instead their actions, which included assaults and violating rules that allowed non-protesters to go about their daily business. Quite simply, they were not arrested for disagreeing with Bush, but for being jerks.

  17. Personally, I supported the war on the sole basis that Iraq faulted on the terms of the Gulf War cease fire by not freely allowing inspections. I had been advocating invading Iraq since the Clinton years.

    Then you were and are stupid.

  18. SuperSub says:

    Nice MiT, rather than debating the points (if you’ll look, there wasn’t one personal attack in my post), you’ve resorting to petty childish name calling.

    I’ll respond in kind – I’m rubber and you’re glue, what you say bounces off me and sticks to you.

    You, sir, have been served.

    And as for what I assume a reasonable person might make as an argument to my statement regarding the failure of Iraq to abide by the cease fire – “But we have been mired down in Iraq and we found no WMD’s anyway so it still would have been worthless to go in…”

    The world was very different then, including Iraq. We likely would have faced less resistance in Iraq and amongst our own allies because the Gulf War would have been fresh in people’s minds. It also would have restored some credibility to our diplomacy. What’s the use in negotiating terms for a cease-fire if those terms aren’t going to be enforced? All we did by sitting back and letting Saddam do what he pleased is weaken every further attempt by the US to use diplomacy instead of war. As a result, we now have to use war instead of diplomacy.

  19. SuperSub,

    I go by Mike in Texas, not just Mike, I did not make the comment you are attributing to me.

  20. Well at least Mike in Texas has managed to derail the discussion before it could be determined that the only thing wrong with the Texas textbook commission’s actions were that they didn’t comport with the opinions of those who would have biased the books differently if only they were in charge.

  21. SuperSub says:

    Mike in Texas –
    My apologies, got you mixed up with the other Mike.

  22. Richard Aubrey says:

    Mike in Texas.
    FDR got slammed pretty good for Pearl Harbor, no? No? I thought bad things were always the president’s fault.
    Truman got blindsided twice in Korea. His fault?

  23. Supersub,

    No problem.

    Allen, do you REALLY believe the Moral Majority is more important than Thomas Jefferson? If you want to get back on topic then let’s debate what the Texas BOE has deemed important.

    One man’s religion is another man’s tyranny, not sure who said it first but you should actually check out what the new stadards are.

  24. Supersub,

    The reason we invaded Iraq was b/c of the “weapons of mass destruction”. There were none. Where is the accountability for that event?

  25. Richard Aubrey says:

    MikeIn Texas–not that real Texans are thrilled.

    The invasion of Iraq was for a number of reasons. You’ll recall–not being pleased that others recall–that Bush was reproached for not being able to make up his mind amongst all the reasons.
    Yup. Everybody knows better.
    According to the Kay and Duelfer reports, at the very least, SH was on the point of reconstituting his programs, having the human capital, some dual use facilities, tons of yellow cake, and anticipating the end of the sanctions. Oceans of money.
    Imagine where he’d be today.

    I personally mourn every one of the ten thousand guys who got killed stopping Hitler’s occupation of the Rhineland in 1936, but at least they prevented WW II, which would have been worse.
    Or, no. Wait. If you prevent something, you have no idea how bad it might have been. Leaves plenty of room for weaselly demagogues, too.

  26. SuperSub says:

    Mike in Texas –
    You could do a rather long slideshow of politicians from both sides of the aisle and from multiple countries who all claimed that Saddam had WMD’s… and many of those politicians had the same access to information that Bush had. Bush got the blame because he, well, was the most significant and highest-profile leader in the world at the moment. One cannot mention accountability without seriously considering the culpability of our honored Congressmen. Either they also independently came to the same conclusion as President Bush or they allowed themselves to be misled by the spin…both of which are offenses that show that they should not be in office representing us.
    The WMD’s were not the sole reason for the invasion given by the administration… I do remember prior to the invasion during a press conference that failure to follow terms of the cease-fire was also given. The questions asked by the news outlets, though, focused solely on the possibility of Iraq possessing WMD’s. Little if any attention was given to the cease-fire argument.

  27. greeneyeshade says:

    So American Thinker approves of ‘balancing’ Darwinism with Creationism? Kindly, as Mr. Goldwyn supposedly said, include me out.

  28. Richard Aubrey says:

    Mike in Texas knows this. He also knows that if he keeps repeating the lies long enough, those who wish to refute them, over and over, will eventually tire of it.
    Leaving the lies as if they were the truth.
    Got to give folks like that credit for perseverance.

  29. Bush gets th blame because he was IN CHARGE.

    Tell me how that’s a lie.

  30. In the meantime here’s a Bush video clip:

    Note he admits weapons of mass destruction were the main reason we attacked Iraq and that Iraq had nothing to do with September 11th.

  31. Your turn Richard

  32. Richard Aubrey says:

    Mike in Texas,
    I was paying attention before, during, and after. So you’ll have to find somebody else to try to fool.
    However, “main” is different from “only”, which is your implication.
    You’ll note that, at this date, Saddaam has no weapons of mass destruction.
    You will also recall that there were two reports of WMD seekers, Kay and Duelfer, who agreed that the WMD projects would be beginning shortly after the sanctions (“crumbling”, according to ohe of them) failed altogether.
    You could also tell us where the WMD by the truckload for the Amman bombing in 2002–which the Jordanian police busted–came from.

    So, since Truman was in charge, he gets blamed for the two surprise attacks in Korea, and FDR for Pearl Harbor?
    And Obama if something like hyperinflation happens?
    Now, as I say, I know you know this. I’m trying to get you to take your business to some group home someplace where you might have some luck.

  33. Main implies “most important”. How important would it have been to invade Iraq without the made up threat of WMDs?


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