Christian Fascists, Capitalist Pigs, and the List of Shame in Texas

National attention has focused in recent years on the meetings of the Texas State Board of Education (BOE). The BOE, dominated by right wing Christian Fundamentalists, achieved notoriety in years past for aggressively mandating that an anti-scientific approach in biology, physics, and other sciences be promoted in Texas schools. This year, as many observers and protesters – and even some members of the BOE – said, the BOE is “re-writing history” in its attempt to force through a willfully ignorant curriculum, driven by the Christian fundamentalism of a majority of its members.

The texts in history and social sciences approved by the BOE promote U.S., white, and male chauvinism, and an overt and implied defense of the U.S. as a “Christian nation”. The BOE insisted that capitalism be defined throughout all approved texts as the “free enterprise system”, because, as one of its members argued “Let’s face it, capitalism does have a negative connotation. You know, capitalist pig.” Books approved by the BOE will be used in Texas schools for the next ten years, and in classrooms in states throughout the country.
 
This article originally appeared on the website of the Texas Freedom Network
 
It would be hard to overstate the disaster that has unfolded in Austin.
 
And this won’t affect just Texas schoolchildren. Unlike Vegas, what happens in Texas doesn’t stay in Texas when it comes to textbooks. Texas buys so many textbooks that publishers write their books to meet this state’s standards and then sell those same books to schools across the country.
 
So what happened? Over just a few days in January and this month, the state board shredded nearly a year’s worth of detailed work by teachers, scholars and other curriculum writers. In vote after vote, board members made numerous and outrageously foolish, intolerant and ignorant changes based on little more than their own (limited) knowledge and personal beliefs.
 
The problem isn’t simply that many changes were wrong factually.  Teachers will surely despair as they read through the numerous names, dates and events board members added willy-nilly to the standards with little consideration of how in the world to cram all of those facts into the limited instructional time available for classes.
 
But poor scholarship — if scholarship is a word that can be used to describe any “research” done by this board — was particularly evident during the debate. On more than one occasion, board members simply resorted to Internet searches from laptops at their desks. They invited no historians, economists, sociologists or even classroom teachers to guide them as they rewrote history (and standards for government, economics, sociology and other social studies courses) with scores of ill-considered, politically motivated amendments.
 
In fact, board members had explicitly rejected a proposal in November that they invite such experts to be on hand during the debate. They simply didn’t want to be bothered with facts and real scholarship as they moved to transform a curriculum document into a political manifesto.
 
The board will have one more opportunity to consider (and amend) the standards in May. Then teachers and students will be saddled with these standards for the next decade.
 
The following List of Shame is a summary of some of the worst examples from what is truly a debacle for public education: