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Tilting at Windmills

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May 17, 2010

PLEASE, MESS WITH TEXAS.... The Texas Board of Education continues to move forward with its painfully dumb new social studies curriculum, but let's not forget, the lesson plans can get worse.

With the long-running Texas history textbooks standards fight scheduled to end with a final vote by the State Board of Education Friday, arch-conservative board member Don McLeroy is proposing a new set of changes that read like a tea party manifesto.

The new amendment, which is expected to get a vote on Thursday, would require high school history students to "discuss alternatives regarding long term entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, given the decreasing worker to retiree ratio" and also "evaluate efforts by global organizations to undermine U. S. sovereignty."

McLeroy, who lost a Republican primary recently but will continue with his silly crusade for the rest of the year, said students should be aware of his paranoid delusions, possibly involving the United Nations and the International Criminal Court.

Keep in mind, the right-wing activists on the board are just relying on their own wishes -- no historians, sociologists, educators, or economists have been consulted on the new curriculum. The ideologues simply decide what kind of "truths" they like best, and then shape the state's curriculum accordingly.

As we've reported for months, the results are predictably ridiculous, but apparently, they're not quite done.

Steve Benen 10:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (34)

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the right-wing activists on the board are just relying on their own wishes -- no historians, sociologists, educators, or economists have been consulted on the new curriculum.

That's because...

"Someone has to stand up to these experts!" --Don McLeroy, March 27, 2010

Posted by: Death Panel Truck on May 17, 2010 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

One wonders what level of education- and where it was achieved- these public figures have.

And I speak of a broad segment of the population; from school board member to United States Senator.

Posted by: DAY on May 17, 2010 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Soon the Yellow Rose of Texas will be replaced with the Red Poppy so they can smoke it while they live-out their pipe dreams of "educating" their already dumbed-down population. Nauseating...

Posted by: Stevio on May 17, 2010 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

This is where other state departments of education should be stepping up and saying to textbook publishers, "We don't care what crap Texas wants in its textbooks - if you bring that garbage around here, we're not buying."

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on May 17, 2010 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

I've said this before, but what really has to happen here is for districts to simply stop buying these textbooks. They aren't necessary, particularly for budget-strapped schools that can't afford this nonsense. You can get a lot of stuff on the web these days, and most of it can be downloaded and printed cheaply, even if factoring in copyright issues. It's a far better way to go than having your school budget tied to a bunch of Texas yahoos and the textbook companies that go along with them. Not mention the trend towards a multimedia approach to teaching using DVDs, web, etc. Make these people obsolete, and they will have to go away.
Diana W

Posted by: dianaw on May 17, 2010 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with low-tech cyclist. Advances in printing technology means it's quite cheap to customize textbooks by state. I rarely order full textbooks for my students, but use Primis instead. And I am sure the publishers can also estimate state-by-state demand volume quite accurately.

Posted by: venky on May 17, 2010 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

How long will it before Texas drops Science and Math, and replaced them with seances and meth? And will Chemistry be dropped and alchemy put in its place.
Neither History, nor Math, nor any Science is like 'Burger King:' You can't have it your way!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on May 17, 2010 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

@low-tech cyclist

I agree that other states have to stop glomming onto what Texas does; I may be wrong about the rationale for following Texas, but isn't it because the other states get an economic break from the publisher because the large "runs" of the text make buying in bulk cheaper? I realize that some of the states may agree with the philosophic bent that Texas brings to the table, but this stuff that McElroy promotes is frightening on so many fronts.

As a high school teacher in CA (English, Government/Econ) I see how the state promotes its own brand of political spin that mirrors its politics (yah! unfettered capitalism is great, those people in poverty? pretty much their fault...) But the Texas approach to education? I want nothing to do with it...

Posted by: Chris C on May 17, 2010 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Will the topic for the Sophomore or Junior year be "The Trilateral Commission is Evil"?

Posted by: berttheclock on May 17, 2010 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Darnit! berttheclock beat me to the punch--I was gonna ask if they've quit worrying about The Trilateral Commission, which used to be a really big bogeyman . . .

Posted by: Tea Bagger Jones on May 17, 2010 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not into beauty pageants and I can't stand Donald Trump, but last night's results may tick off our wingnut "friends", who I think really are into these things, look at their heroes Palin and Bachmann. The winner, Rima Fakih, is Arab, a native of Lebanon (moved to the US as an infant), celebrates both Christianity and Islam, and whose father is named Hussein. And she believes that birth control should be covered by insurance (question that was asked).

OTOH, the first runnerup would have pleased the wingnuts and TPers - from Oklahoma and thinks the new AZ immigration law is just fine. And is a (bottle) blonde.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100517/ap_on_en_tv/us_miss_usa_36

Posted by: Hannah on May 17, 2010 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

The new amendment, which is expected to get a vote on Thursday, would require high school history students to discuss alternatives regarding long term entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, given the decreasing worker to retiree ratio"

Discussions of single-payer health insurance as an effective alternative to Medicare would be helpful.

Will the topic for the Sophomore or Junior year be "The Trilateral Commission is Evil"?

As I understand it a chapter in this course is on the danger of Hitler's South American clone reanimating Commie Eisenhower's corpse and using it to command the vast army of ACORN workers to force everyone to take the census and imprison them in secret FEMA camps if they fail a test of international capitals.

Posted by: trex on May 17, 2010 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Since the textbook business has a deep well dug in texas that spreads its toxic brew of nihilism nationwide, we can probably all bring child abuse charges against Texas.

Posted by: neill on May 17, 2010 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

That's not so hard

"discuss alternatives regarding long term entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare...

Like...
Granny having to eat out of a garbage dumpster...
And hoping to strike it rich by finding a plastic bottle of past-due aspirins...

Posted by: koreyel on May 17, 2010 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, I forgot to label my comment above as OT, but considering the topic of my comment (beauty pageant) is attached to Steve's article about Texas, maybe not too OT. I was also just a bit giddy thinking about how po'ed the wingers might be about the outcome.

Posted by: Hannah on May 17, 2010 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

One point that I haven't seen raised concerning the Texas textbook issues is that the textbooks will be required for use only in Texas public schools. I would bet that most of the wingnuts advocating their own warped and inaccurate views on history and science do not send their kids to public schools. I would think that private schools already have the option to use whatever books they want. Of course due to the buying power of Texas these views will also be imposed on public school students outside of Texas.

Posted by: Ajay48 on May 17, 2010 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

"...would require high school history students to 'discuss alternatives regarding long term entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare,...'"

How about discuss what would have happened to a privatized replacement for Social Security when the Great Recession hit?
Or discuss how retired seniors would have fared with the increasing costs of healthcare if they relied on private insurance?

".....evaluate efforts by global organizations to undermine U. S. sovereignty."

Obviously, the Texas Board of Education is the only entity in this country to take the threat from SPECTRE, KAOS, The Legion of Doom, and Cobra Command seriously.

Posted by: 2Manchu on May 17, 2010 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

And the parents of all young Texas children about to enter into this calderon of education...what do you say?

Or the military families with young children who are required to be stationed in Texas, what do you say?

Or will you grumble only when your child comes home with the story it was Jesus on the grassy knoll because Kennedy was a liberal.

Posted by: Skip on May 17, 2010 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

I feel sorry for the kids of Texas. The idiot adults in their state are deliberately putting them at a disadvantage. If McLeroy had his way universities in other states would stop admitting students in Texas because they couldn't trust the Texas education system to prepare them for college.

Posted by: ET on May 17, 2010 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Welcome to texas, it's like a whole other third world country! Care about your kid's education? Get 'em the hell out of the theocratic shit hole known as texas.

Posted by: buddym on May 17, 2010 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

As Paul Simon said:

"When I think about all the crap
I learned in high school
It's a wonder I can think at all

And my lack of education
hasn't hurt me none
I can read the writing on the wall."

PBS had a really excellent segment on this subject on their new news show on Friday. A couple of things will happen...

First, teachers will not teach to the text. "junk," as one of my teachers described a text book assigned to our class many years ago.

Second, like Kansas... Texas students will be at a disadvantage when they apply to college because even if teachers do nto teach to the text... the standards look like a vast waste of time is spent on trivia.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on May 17, 2010 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Trex and others have it right.
Some honest evaluation of the safety net could truly be useful.

I just don't trust Texas to make it an honest debate.

"Sorry, we misspoke. Discuss elimination of Social Security and Medicare and how they were devised by Stalin and FDR at Yalta."

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on May 17, 2010 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Let them hear from you. You can email the Texas State Board of Education at this address:

sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us

I would suggest putting a particular member's name in the subject line; (e.g. Don McLeroy) to direct the email to the appropriate target.

More info can be found at Texas Freedom Network

www.tfn.org

Posted by: ckelly on May 17, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

I would bet that most of the wingnuts advocating their own warped and inaccurate views on history and science do not send their kids to public schools.

You would win that bet. They don't.

Posted by: ckelly on May 17, 2010 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us

"tea"? Really?

Posted by: drkrick on May 17, 2010 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

I think the fed gov't should subsidize the cost of text book for grade and high schools--but only those that get approved by, say, the National Academy of Sciences (I'm sure they'd be smart enough to want to stay out of this--but too bad). Texas can buy what ever book they like, but no fed help if they don't meet the federal critera.

Posted by: golack on May 17, 2010 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

In a coincidence that is no coincidence at all billionaire anti-Social Security zealot Peter G Peterson funnneled $2.45 million dollars through his PGP Foundation to Columbia Teachers College to develop a H.S. Curriculum on Social Security.
http://www.tc.columbia.edu/news/article.htm?id=7347

Teachers College has received a three-year $2.45 million grant from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation to develop a comprehensive social studies and mathematics curriculum about the fiscal challenges that face the nation, which will be distributed free of charge to every high school in the country.
Titled “Understanding Fiscal Responsibility: A Curriculum for Teaching About the Federal Budget, National Debt and Budget Deficit,” the non-partisan, inquiry-based curriculum will teach students the facts, significance and consequences for the United States and its citizens of public policies leading to persistent deficits and a growing national debt.

Hmm, 'inquiry-based'? What does that mean?
The curricula will incorporate books, primary sources, simulations, films such as “I.O.U.S.A” and other visual and digital media. It will be appropriate for students ranging from grade seven through college, and for teaching in five subject areas: Civics/Government, Economics, U.S. History, World History/Global Studies, and Mathematics.
For those not familiar with it "I.O.U.S.A-the Movie" is a documentary depicting the Peterson founded and funded Concord Coalition's Bob Bixby's 'Fiscal Wake-Up Tour', all of whom's speakers and presenters are almost without exception drawn from various Peterson supported groups including the PGP Foundation, the Peterson-Pew Commission, the Commission for a Responsible Federal Budget (the last two having Maya MacGuineas as President, herself being the infamous co-author of the truly horrible Liebman-MacGuineas-Samwick Non-Partisan Social Security Reform Plan, 'LMS' for short), and the ostensibly independent Brooking Heritage Fiscal Seminar.

Peterson is making a bold move here. Not only is he proposing to provide a modular propaganda product for free, he is using Texas stooges to make exposure to that propaganda mandatory.

I have been tracking the Peterson connection even before William Grieder's great piece in The Nation last year. If there is one thing you need to read on this to understand what is going on behind all these curtains, in D.C. as well as Texas, it may well be Grieder's Looting Social Security

Posted by: Bruce Webb on May 17, 2010 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

As we've reported for months, the results are predictably ridiculous, but apparently, they're not quite done.

Not as predictably ridiculous as sex education in the schools. Or science and math taught in languages other than English.

The Texas school board is not the most ridiculous school board in the US, it is just the most influential single board.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on May 17, 2010 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

trex: As I understand it a chapter in this course is on the danger of Hitler's South American clone reanimating Commie Eisenhower's corpse and using it to command the vast army of ACORN workers to force everyone to take the census and imprison them in secret FEMA camps if they fail a test of international capitals.

I see your writing has not lost its sting. This is the first I have read from you in months. I thought perhaps you had deserted us.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on May 17, 2010 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

I see your writing has not lost its sting. This is the first I have read from you in months. I thought perhaps you had deserted us.

Well thanks, Matt, it's nice to be missed. Although I have been busy, my watchful eye is ever on the blog. You have been posting far less frequently yourself. Statistical matters been keeping you busy?

Posted by: trex on May 17, 2010 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

...students to "discuss alternatives regarding long term entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, given the decreasing worker to retiree ratio" and also "evaluate efforts by global organizations to undermine U. S. sovereignty."

Conservatives are basically sociopaths. They view many of the basic tenets of modern advanced society — the ones designed to make life a little easier for everyone — as inherently evil. What they want the students to say here is that "people should save their own money if they want to have any when they retire" instead of depending on Social Security.

I have no problem teaching students this important "Grasshopper and the Ant" lesson provided they are also taught how Enron — with the help of Reagan's policies and the Bush administration — bilked thousands of people out of the life savings they had squirreled away for retirement. And how the middle class has gone from having tremendous savings to the population with the highest debt.

Sure, tell them that government spending is considered bad. But be sure to show students all the horrible things public programs have accomplished. You know, like roads and schools and stuff.

The Texas Board is trying to reposition the public school systems as being hotbeds of socialistic thinking that must be torn down and rebuilt in a more capitalist image. Ultimately, conservatives will not be happy until the Golden Rule is rewritten to say: "Do unto others that which is most beneficial to you." Anything less is Communism.

Posted by: chrenson on May 17, 2010 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I look forward to such controversial high school essays as "The helicopters' true color: raven or obsidian?" and "How my Grandmother is a tool of the internationalist agenda."

Posted by: biggerbox on May 17, 2010 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

"...discuss alternatives regarding long term entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare...". quoted by Steve Benen.

I know an alternative, but I don't think the nut-jobs in Tejas would like it: if workers were paid enough to cover their health care costs and also save for their retirement, they wouldn't have to rely on the government.
See, I KNEW they wouldn't like it...

Posted by: Doug on May 17, 2010 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

My favourite of McLeroy's amendments is his proposal to make Thomas Kinkade a set text.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow on May 18, 2010 at 6:07 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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