The eyes of the nation are on Texas. Why? Because a group of conservatives decided it was time to demonstrate an Alamo-like do or die spirit in the battle over what's in and what's out in social studies, economics, and history textbooks. The shots fired at last week's meeting of the Texas Board of Education will be heard around the world because Texas is one of the largest buyers of textbooks. Publishers, who want to make a profit, will likely adjust their texts to meet the Texas requirements and that will affect what students study from sea to shining sea.
Liberals are livid at the thought that students might have to pick up a text book that, according to the New York Times, stresses "the superiority of American capitalism, questions the Founding Fathers commitment to a purely secular government and presents Republican political philosophies in a more positive light." The Huffington Post refers calls the Texas Board of Education's decision the "Texas textbook massacre." The article from the Associated Press that follows that provocative headline begins, "A far-right faction of the Texas State Board of Education succeeded Friday in injecting conservative ideals into social studies, history, and economics lessons that will be taught to millions of students for the next decade." You would think by that statement that conservatism is a kind of viral infection that will poison the minds of millions.
Then there is the story from msnbc.com's perspective. The startling headline reads "Conservatives put stamp on Texas textbooks: New social studies curriculum stresses religion over evolution." From left-wing blogs to liberal media outlets, outrage was the order of the day. How will America survive if the next generation learns of the benefits of capitalism? How can our Republic endure if students in the public school system are taught that our Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles? How dare a group of backward thinking traditionalists suggest our form if government is a Constitutional Republic, not a Democracy? From the New York Times to the Huffington Post journalistic handwringing was the order of the day.
Don McLeroy, labeled by the Associated Press as "the leader of the conservative faction (I wonder if the AP has ever used the phrase "liberal faction") dared to suggest that teaching on the civil rights movement should include the study of the violent philosophy of the Black Panthers as well as the non-violent methods of Dr. Martin Luther King. All Mr. McLeroy wanted was the whole truth about a very violent period in American history. We should all be thankful that Dr. Martin Luther King's method of peaceful resistance and passive but powerful demonstrations won the day and won protected rights for black Americans. McLeory also led the fight to include the fact that Republicans overwhelmingly supported passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Students need to know that is was southern Democrats who fought the hardest against passage. The House vote was 152 Democrats for the bill and 96 against (61% to 39%) with Republicans voting 138 for and 34 against (80% to 20%). In the Senate, the numbers were similar. Forty-six Democrat Senators voted for the bill and twenty-one voted against it (66% to 34%). Twenty-seven Republican Senators voted for the bill and only six voted against it (82% to 18%). That information has long been excised from modern textbooks leaving the impression that Democrats were in favor of the Civil Rights Act while Republicans opposed it.
Barbara Cargill had the audacity to fight for and win passage of an amendment requiring the teaching of "the importance of personal responsibility for life choices" in a section of a sociology textbook that deals with teenage suicide, dating violence, sexuality, drug use and eating disorders. For liberals, everything that goes wrong in a person's life is the fault of someone else. The teaching of the church or the influence of parents who believe in traditional morals usually receive the lions share of the blame.
Oddly enough, the left-wing bloggers and liberal journalists forget to mention changes the left wanted for the textbooks. Advocates for the left wanted to remove any mention of Independence Day, Neil Armstrong, Daniel Boone, and Christopher Columbus. They tried to replace Christmas with Diwali (a five-day Indian festival celebrated as a national holiday in India, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, and Fiji). They also removed Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison from World History and added Mary Kay (cosmetics) and Wallace Amos (of Famous Amos Cookie fame). All of these were changes were reversed by the Texas State Board of Education.
For far too long conservatives have allowed themselves to be intimidated into silence as liberals waged a very successful battle to remove all conservative and traditional references out of textbooks used in the public school system. Finally and thankfully a group of principled conservatives in Texas have said, "Enough is enough."
America is an exceptional country. We should stop apologizing and start celebrating the genius that is America. There will be one final vote on the textbook standards in May. I pray that those who have raised a voice of reason will stand firm and continue to say, "Don't mess with the texts in Texas!"