Evangelicals Rewrite Texan School Curriculum

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jeeprs
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 09:43 pm
In today's Sydney Morning Herald, a story about this, which starts

Quote:
In a coup likely to shift what millions of American children learn at school, a clutch of Christian evangelicals and social conservatives who have grasped control of the Texas Board of Education are expected to force through a new state curriculum this week.

The board is to vote on a purge of alleged liberal bias in Texas school books in favour of what board member Cynthia Dunbar says really matters: a belief in America as a nation chosen by God as a beacon to the world.


''We are fighting for our children's education and our nation's future,'' Ms Dunbar said. ''In Texas we have certain statutory obligations to promote patriotism and to promote the free enterprise system."
Source


If this is true, it is a sorry state of affairs. I think it completely misrepresents the meaning of Christianity. I don't understand why Christian conservatives think that patriotism and free enterprise have anything to do with the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ. But then, I am neither American, nor Christian, so I would be interested to see other views of it.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 10:30 pm
@jeeprs,
I don't think it's a matter of Christianity. Socrates was executed because people dreaded the effects of free thinking. At that time Athenians felt badly about themselves... like things had gone astray. People naturally try to understand why things unravel and act to try to stitch things back up.

Although how the actions of the government of Texas would be expected to "shift" what other state governments do, I'm not sure. Texas has never exactly been a pilot state.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 10:42 pm
@jeeprs,
the article goes on to say that because Texas has a large population, its text book choices influences the US school system at large. They are also reigning in the teaching of evolution and encouraging the teaching of ID and Creationism. They want to replace the term 'capitalist system' with 'free enterprise system' because they believe 'capitalist' has negative connotations.

Quote:
The curriculum has alarmed liberals across the country in part because Texas buys millions of textbooks every year, giving it sway over what publishers print. By some estimates, all but a handful of American states rely on textbooks written to meet the Texas curriculum. California is considering a bill that would bar them from being used in the state's schools.


I suppose I can take solace in the fact that California is a lot more influential than Texas in the overall scheme of things (even if broke...)
 
Soul Brother
 
Reply Wed 19 May, 2010 02:51 am
@jeeprs,
Quote:
really matters: a belief in America as a nation chosen by God as a beacon to the world.
:bigsmile::bigsmile: This must be a joke!

I wonder if these people are hired or if they are christians who actually believe this.

If they really believe what they are saying they must have read the bible upside down! Jesus christ in conformity with capitalism?:bigsmile: I wonder what jesus would have to say about that!

I really wonder what goes on inside these people's heads.

---------- Post added 05-19-2010 at 07:06 PM ----------

jeeprs;165947 wrote:
I don't understand why Christian conservatives think that patriotism and free enterprise have anything to do with the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ.


This is why I believe [SIZE="2"]they don't![/SIZE]

I have had christians tell me that hell is a veeeeerry hot place, (thermodynamically)

But I cannot conceive of anyone being [SIZE="2"]SO[/SIZE] naive, as to ever! [SIZE="2"]SO[/SIZE] drastically misinterpret a book.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 19 May, 2010 03:26 am
@jeeprs,
well I don't want to put down America. At its best America is a beacon to the world. But these guys ain't it.
 
Rwa001
 
Reply Wed 19 May, 2010 03:28 am
@Soul Brother,
Well the scarier fact in all of this is the influence so few people can have on the passage of knowledge in general. If in today's age we can have a council of 10-12 deciding what is relevant and what is not for our children to learn, we are left to wonder: how many similar councils in the past have made the exact same sorts of decisions about the 'relevant' parts of history through their own lenses? If nothing else, this is a lesson about how we take history for granted.
 
Soul Brother
 
Reply Wed 19 May, 2010 04:35 am
@Rwa001,
Rwa001;166037 wrote:
Well the scarier fact in all of this is the influence so few people can have on the passage of knowledge in general. If in today's age we can have a council of 10-12 deciding what is relevant and what is not for our children to learn, we are left to wonder: how many similar councils in the past have made the exact same sorts of decisions about the 'relevant' parts of history through their own lenses? If nothing else, this is a lesson about how we take history for granted.


Indeed. Do not for a second forget the atrocities that were result of the influence of Adolf Hitler. Mass genocide, was the outcome of the voice of one man.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Wed 19 May, 2010 09:24 am
@jeeprs,
To the credit of the intellectual community, many historians and scholars have voiced in the strongest way objections to these obviously propagandist changes; some authors of current textbooks have gone on record that they will refuse to make the changes in new editions.

It is a sad commentary on the modern world in which we live that citizens would actually elect such barbarians to a board of education, and that its Members would than attempt to supplant the results of intellectual freedom of scholarly research with politically or religiously motivated ideology.
Shame on Texas.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Wed 19 May, 2010 09:29 am
@Soul Brother,
Texas and Textbooks

I definitely think that the key word here is "likely" though in the except jeeprs posted. Texas is a major purchaser of textbooks and they have become sort of an unofficial standard for the rest of the nation in terms of deliberative selection of curriculum material. But Texas, and further the particular school district, is just one school district in the hundreds and hundreds of districts in the US. Each district in turn has to approve the particular textbooks the local schools use. As a firm supporter of state rights, which for anyone who may not know, the United States is just that, a collection of separate countries bound by a federal contract, it is Texas' call. I think that Texas is completely in the right to suggest these changes to their textbooks. That being said, I don't live in Texas. I would not like to see some of those changes implemented in my school districts. But if the school board is suggesting these changes, that means that they have at least reached a quorum in PTA and other organizations who have given their endorsements to these changes.

Issues with Article

The article is mostly factual, although I would question the context of much of the supporting evidence. The article points out for example that Thomas Jefferson, advocating separation of church and state should be "sidelined," while introducing the "contributions" of Confederate leaders who just so happened to be "pro-slavery." The author here commits fallacies of equivocation and unwarranted assumptions. How does Jefferson, who in a shocking revelation was a big Relative Conceptions

But I wonder if there would be any sort of issue if instead of giving a few pages to acknowledge confederate leaders (many of whom I would point out were integral contributors to both American foreign and domestic policy from the early nineteenth century towards the end of the nineteenth century), we continue to dismiss the civil war (and consequently all that took part in the losing side as wrong)as a rebellion for slavery as many of us have been led to believe for most of our own lives. Robert Lee was perhaps one of the most gifted strategists the United States has ever had, hated the idea of slavery, etc. And yet he is remembered as the confederate general who surrendered at Appomattox rather than as a person whose motives to join the confederacy were born of the transgression of his native country of Virginia alone, not the support of slavery.

Misinterpretations
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Wed 19 May, 2010 10:14 am
@VideCorSpoon,
I'm really not sure what the issue here is, aside from people on the forum not liking the ideology of the Christian Right. It is a board of education and like other boards of education they implement the curriculum most closely espoused by the majority of people in power. The separation of church and state is not the separation of God and state it is the separation of specific organized religions running a state. one curriculum indoctrinating a child is relatively as good as another, and has as much right to be taught as another given that the curriculum is implemented legally.

The scientific validity of the curriculum is not even as important as one might think here. Education has never been about science, accurcay, or even truth. Most things highly weighed in Primary education, aside from math and biology, are arbitrary matters of prescription (spelling, language, grammar, writing) or highly interpretive and relativistic (Arts, P.E., Social Studies, History). As far as I know no particular group has an agenda against math and the agendas contorting biology have very little to do with the functional biology taught before the university level.

Aside from this a legally appointed/elected board of education is simply the voting arm of the parental right to teach children how the parents deem fit. It is the same discrimination to say, "if you want to teach your children X teach them at home and leave the schools out of it" one way or the other. The ideology in power is the one who says it. If the non-christian right would like their curriculum reinstated then they should work to get people legally placed that will do so. I know a lot of christian right folks and they have worked their butts off to get "the nation" to the point that it is, and they have the right to do so.

As to issues of progress, there is no such thing as progress on a macro scale. There is only change. A curriculum being changed is only counterprogressional to those who think that it is. It is progress to those who think that it is. Technologically and socially one is not any more destructive on a macro scale than another. Archaeology and history are fraut with civilzations that rise and fall and cycle through what is now considered liberalism and conservatism. And it was always considered progression or regression by someone.
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Wed 19 May, 2010 01:19 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;166150 wrote:
I'm really not sure what the issue here is, aside from people on the forum not liking the ideology of the Christian Right.

To me the issue is that - once again - a politician is using his office not to do what is best, or even what he necessarily feels is responsible, but using it to voice disdain of "experts" in order to cater to the prejudices of his base. "I don't agree with these experts, someone has to stand up to them" is Don McLeroy's stated motivation for the reforms he suggests.

I do not believe that the quality of an education is merely an abitrary measure. Were I to sign up for a course I would want to make sure I was receiving the knowledge I would need to best comprehend the subject - and I would want the same for my kids.

Don McLeroy might just want to subject biology, history and politics curriculum to a subtle revision at the moment. However, if he is just allowed to do that then what next?

When I want to learn something, the more "expert" a teacher is the better. If those experts are forced by elected politicians to adjust what they feel is best or most representative just because of that representative's disdain and appeals to popularity I think everyone suffers. If Texas children are being groomed to ignore the contributions of ethnic minorities to US history I think that sets a bad precedent.

Plus I'd also argue that denying evolution within Biology classes is akin to telling kids that "adios" is French for "hello".

And I think it's worth noting that the only state in the US to teach abstinence-only contraception is also the state with the highest teen pregnancy rate - Texas.

There is such a thing as a bad education. People shouldn't swallow it just because "well - he's our elected representative to the school board".

Get rid.

GoshisDead;166150 wrote:
As far as I know no particular group has an agenda against math and the agendas contorting biology have very little to do with the functional biology taught before the university level.

Even if that were the case (and I think anyone who wants a basic education should get the uncontorted version myself) why should those Texan children who might like to study science at an advanced level should just have to put up with the fact they were taught it wrong during their formative years because of some vote-chasing politico?

Also, algebraic textbooks have been banned by the TBA on account of illustrative examples. So even maths isn't safe.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Wed 19 May, 2010 01:50 pm
@Dave Allen,
Dave Allen;166172 wrote:
To me the issue is that - once again - a politician is using his office not to do what is best, or even what he necessarily feels is responsible, but using it to voice disdain of "experts" in order to cater to the prejudices of his base. "I don't agree with these experts, someone has to stand up to them" is Don McLeroy's stated motivation for the reforms he suggests.

I do not believe that the quality of an edication is merely an abitrary measure. Were I to sign up for a course I would want to make sure I was receiving the knowledge I would need to best comprehend the subject - and I would want the same for my kids.

Don McLeroy might just want to subject biology, history and politics curriculum to a subtle revision at the moment. However, if he is just allowed to do that then what next?

When I want to learn something, the more "expert" a teacher is the better. If those experts are forced by elected politicians to adjust what they feel is best or most representative just because of that representative's disdain and appeals to popularity I think everyone suffers. If Texas children are being groomed to ignore the contributions of ethnic minorities to US history I think that sets a bad precedent.

Plus I'd also argue that denying evolution within Biology classes is akin to telling kids that "adios" is French for "hello".

And I think it's worth noting that the only state in the US to teach abstinence-only contraception is also the state with the highest teen pregnancy rate - Texas.

There is such a thing as a bad education. People shouldn't swallow it just because "well - he's our elected representative to the school board".

Get rid.

This is a classic case of a representative republic. If a representative were mandated to do what his/her constituents desired, the U.S. would be a democracy, but it is not. It is neither abuse of power or corrumption. if the constituents are unhappy with the representation, they are obligated to work to remove that person. The political process and that of education administration are not processes about education, they are processes about politics. Assuming that a board of education has the desire to change policy, it is normally an ideological change, as politics rarely considers science, as anything more than a modifier to said ideology. The rightness/wrongess/truthiness/falseness of the curriculum is irrelivent in light of the political process driving it and the ideology on which the political platform is built. This goes for any curriculum based on any ideology using any evidence to as corroboration.

Dave Allen;166172 wrote:

Even if that were the case (and I think anyone who wants a basic education should get the uncontorted version myself) why should those Texan children who might like to study science at an advanced level should just have to put up with the fact they were taught it wrong during their formative years because of some vote-chasing politico?


Children have no rights in their educational curriculum that aren't mandated by the state board of education. They have to put up with it unless their parents decide that they shouldn't at which point, again the board is replaced, the family moves, or the child is placed in private school. Chrisitan families around the United States make this choice constantly. As I stated originally I was not commenting on the ethics of curriculum change. These children are likely to be at a slight disadvantage when they reach university, however not in any more of a disadvanttage with relation to the science/religion issue than a plethora of Private school children already are.

Also concerning educational developement. The primary education system is designed to promote cognitive reasoning skills. The facts are somewhat irrelevant. I can reason between two totally false things just as easily as a false and a true assuming that my basis for a truth value was built upon a structured false belief. When I am presented with new information I then make a new assessment. When kids hit college they are presented with entirelydifferent set of social/scientific/cultural/religious/etc... norms than they were even in the most prestigious of liberal prep schools. They are naturally equipped to change their world views and rational schemas in a very short time. Going to college Christian/Muslim/Hindu/Wiccan whatever cannot change that and has not affected very many student's success rates.

In short there is nothing real to complain about this other than some people don't like the ideology behind the change.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Wed 19 May, 2010 02:26 pm
@GoshisDead,
Yet another reason to secede from Texas.
 
 

 
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