Elites who treat the efforts of Texas officials to balance their otherwise politically correct textbooks as a scandal are missing an even bigger outrage in the Lone Star State’s public schools. “Decisions that are made in Texas have a ripple effect across the country,” Phillip VanFossen, head of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and a professor of social studies education at Purdue University told Amanda Paulson, a staff writer for the Christian Science Monitor.
“Still, he notes, as the pendulum swings toward national standards—which have yet to be developed for social studies—that influence might wane,” Paulson wrote on May 19, 2010. “Just in case, California this week passed a bill out of a Senate committee that would ensure no California textbooks contain any Texas-driven changes.”
“Among the changes: Students would be required to learn about the ‘unintended consequences’ of Title IX, affirmative action, and the Great Society, and would need to study conservative icons like Phyllis Schlafly, the Heritage Foundation, and the Moral Majority,” Paulson claimed. “The slave trade would be renamed the ‘Atlantic triangular trade,’ American ‘imperialism’ changed to ‘expansionism,’ and all references to ‘capitalism’ have been replaced with ‘free enterprise.’”
“The role of Thomas Jefferson—who argued for the separation of church and state—is minimized in several places, and the standards would emphasize the degree to which the Founding Fathers were driven by Christian principles.”
Ironically, the most contentious of these changes Paulson alleges—the bizarre euphemism for slavery—might work to the benefit of the politically correct as it would help to downplay the role of Islamic societies which sold the slaves into bondage to begin with. Moreover, it would allow analysts to sidestep the thorny question of why the only countries in which slavery still exists are Islamic nations.
In the final standards adopted by the State Board of Education on May 21, 2010, the Texas Education Agency informs us that “Among the amendments that were approved that attracted considerable debate were these standards:
• “Analyze Abraham Lincoln’s ideas about liberty, equality, union and government as contained in his first and second inaugural addresses and the Gettysburg Address and contrast them with the ideas contained in Jefferson Davis’s inaugural address. (8th grade U.S. History);
• “Examine the reasons the Founding Fathers protected religious freedom in America and guaranteed its free exercise by saying that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and compare and contrast this to the phrase ‘separation of church and state.’ (Government);
• “Explain instances of institutional racism in American society. (Sociology)”
Meanwhile, on May 22, 2010, April Castro of the Associated Press reported that “The Texas State Board of Education adopted a social studies and history curriculum Friday that amends or waters down the teaching of the civil rights movement, slavery, America’s relationship with the U.N. and hundreds of other items.”
Paulson went on to report that Professor VanFossen “was bothered by a new requirement that students analyze the decline in value of the US dollar and abandonment of the gold standard, without input from economists, and by amendments that would try to cast a more positive spin on Sen. Joe McCarthy’s communist witch hunt.”
The professor might ponder the old adage, “Be careful what you ask for: You might get it.” Bringing in economists on the first lesson could lead to an investigation of why there has been more inflation in the past 100 years than in the 700 years that preceded that century. As well, a thorough examination of McCarthy’s charges would likely show that the overwhelming bulk of them were accurate as the only journalist to thoroughly investigate the primary sources on them—native-born Texan M. Stanton Evans—has found.
Meanwhile, those concerned with academic standards in Texas should look at what has already happened to them. “Actually, there’s been a decline in results,” Texans for Fiscal Responsibility (TFR) argues. “The average Texas SAT score in 1999 was a 992.”
“Over 10 years it has fallen to 988.” Nevertheless, a look at the soaring costs of public schools in the border state shows that less than half of the largesse heaped upon them has actually gone toward, well, education.
“Of the $11,084 spent per pupil on public education in 2009, only $4,831 went for anything that could even remotely be considered ‘instructional’ expenses as defined by the Texas Education Agency,” TFR concludes.
Yet and still, they show, the price has gone up remarkably over the last decade. “Ten years ago, Texas spent was spending just $5,857,” Empower Texans, the TFR’s group found. “If per-pupil spending had risen with inflation, the cost after 10 years would have approximately been $7,545.”
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.