Texas decides history’s too liberal, rewrites it and teaches it in schools.

by Jamie Doak

Texas loves its women.  Most of the time. Seriously, we have a pretty badass history in general (remember the Alamo?) but even more specifically we have a pretty badass history when it comes to women.  We had Miriam A. Ferguson in office as our governor for a decade starting in 1925 (just six years after women’s suffrage) and Minnie Lou Bradley running her own ranch in the 1950’s.  We also proudly claim the legendary Governor Ann Richards and the hilarious Molly Ivins (“I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults.”)  Texans definitely pride themselves on having strong, competent, capable women.  And this is why the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) is so unforgivably fucked up.

They are rewriting history.  That’s all there is to it.  Yesterday the conservative members of the SBOE voted to approve the new social studies curriculum changes that will (among other atrocities) tell kids that American capitalism is superior to all else and that the Founding Fathers didn’t really want separation of church and state  (in fact board member David Bradley rejects “the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” and he has “$1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”) They’re also going to be removing Cesar Chavez, Thurgood Marshall and Anne Hutchinson from the books because they, ahem, “lack the stature, impact and overall contributions of so many others.”

I’m just going to pause for a minute here to let that sink in.  The lawyer who argued and won Brown v. Board of Education and who was the first African American Supreme Court judge lacks stature and impact.  Wow.

To be fair though, they do have a point about Anne Hutchinson.  As evangelical minister, Peter Marshall, one of six experts advising the state said, “She was certainly not a significant colonial leader, and didn’t accomplish anything except getting herself exiled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for making trouble.”  Well, that and fighting for women’s rights, religious rights and, oh you know, founding Rhode Island.  Whatever.  Pesky little troublemaker! 

Okay then, Anne Hutchinson out, Phyllis Schlafly in!  Wait, what?  The woman who said that “sex education classes are like in-home sales parties for abortions” and that “sexual harassment on the job is not a problem for virtuous women?” That one? She gets to go into the textbook?  Oh, I get it.  Because she embodies the stature that Cesar Chavez clearly lacks…  

It’s just so incredibly frustrating because the conservative members of the SBOE have completely deluded themselves into thinking they’re doing some kind of service for America by lying to kids about our history.  I seriously haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg on all the racist, sexist and ethnocentric shit they’re putting into the curriculum.  It’s a crime that kids are being purposefully lied to and presented such a skewed version of their past.  And what makes it worse is that because Texas is so huge and buys so many textbooks, we set the standard.  So because of all this political bullshit happening at the SBOE, kids all over the country are going to be force fed conservative propaganda.  It’s a heinous, deliberate and irresponsible use of power and conservatives on the SBOE should be ashamed of themselves for valuing politics over people. 

God, I’m a teacher and I’m hoping kids don’t pay attention in social studies class. 

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