Let’s play some catch up: Back in 2009, the Texas State Board of Education voted to change its textbook standards in order for students to consider the “holes in the theory of evolution.” Texas wanted kids to be able to debunk ideas about how life could have evolved naturally on Earth in favor of the much more specious idea of “intelligent design.” Basically, religious concerns prompted Texans to deny their kids an education that they will need to succeed in college. This initiative was so successful that, in 2010, Texas decided to falsify history. As James McKinley reported in the New York Times on May 12, 2010, “After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.” You should read the whole article (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13texas.html) because it’s truly shocking and hilarious. Also, it’s done. Texas textbooks have been changed.
The excuse that Dr. Don McLeroy gave (don’t get super excited folks, he’s a dentist not a Ph.D.) was that, ““We are adding balance. History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.” Yes, I’m serious. An adult person actually claimed that MORE lying will magically create some kind of universal truth balance. Evidently, I now live in Bizarro World.
If you’re interested about what happened back in the day, here’s another great article that sums it up rather nicely: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20005647-503544.html. The best quote about this whole situation is featured in the above and is from Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post. Strauss wrote: “”It makes you wonder why education reformers only insist that teachers are highly qualified to keep their jobs. Shouldn’t there be some basic test of sanity for people who make education policy?”
So, you’re probably asking yourself: why does this matter now? This is all old news, right? Wrong. In January 2012, Tea Party representatives in Tennessee tried to follow Texas’ example, and demanded that history textbooks include (wait for it) THE POSITIVE SIDE OF SLAVERY, and should contain NO, “references to slavery and mentions of the country’s founders being slave owners.” You can read the HuffPost article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/23/tea-party-tennessee-textbooks-slavery_n_1224157.html. We at the RCS have created the following help wanted poster in response:
But it Gets Worse: Even if your family doesn’t live in Texas, the changes that the State has made in its curriculum CAN impact your kids. Texas and California are the largest textbook buyers in the United States. The Texas State Board of Education (a 15 member group) manages a 20 BILLION dollar fund called the Permanent School Fund, which is used to purchase textbooks. The standards for those textbooks are set by the ELECTED board, and are the same for every district in the state of Texas. If a school wants free books, they have to use the ones approved by the board. If not, they’re shit out of luck. We’re talking big money here. And money matters.
Let’s look at it from the position of a textbook publisher. Publishers want to get the Texas market. It makes their lives easier because ALL THE TEXTBOOKS THAT THEY SELL ARE THE SAME. Then, they have to make ALL THOSE TEXTBOOKS anyway, so why not make the SAME books for everyone else – that way they don’t have to re-write, re-format, reset, or re-market ANYTHING. Manufacturers save big bucks by picking one version and sticking to it. That means that YOUR KID in Ohio could very easily wind up with the same textbook as a kid in Texas.
But the MAJOR Problem Is: I don’t know about you folks, but I have no desire to live in a world full of ignorant little micro-douches. I don’t want some kid arguing with me that Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t important. I also don’t want to have to explain who Ghandi was, and that there are different systems of economics other than capitalism (which they’re now calling something totally bogus like “free market economy”), and I sure as hell don’t want to have to argue that slavery happened, is wrong, and was also pretty god damned unpleasant. If we allow this kind of shit to continue, then we’re officially not allowed to complain when the decent children that we loved and packed off to school to get an “education” come home demanding large sized bottles of Tommy Hilfiger’s “Eau de Prep” and baby Lacoste. We’re on the verge of breeding up a generation of Godzilla scale assholes. Please, stop the insanity.
Okay, RCS, What Can I Do: The number one most important thing you can do is make time to discuss what your child is learning with him/her. You’ve got to know, folks. It’s pretty evident that we can no longer trust in the school system to make good decisions about what our kids need to learn to succeed in life. You may have to teach your child some stuff — especially if you want them to become a brain surgeon and put you in that first tier nursing home you’ve been eyeing.
If you’ve got kids, you’re in a unique position to yell at people. So YELL! If you find out that your kid is attempting to debunk the ENTIRE THEORY OF EVOLUTION based on an incomplete fossil record, start screaming: “EVIDENCE OF ABSENCE IS NOT ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE” (you can read more about the argument from ignorance here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance) and kicking over coffee urns until someone pays attention. Bear in mind that conservative politicos have passed many laws protecting the right to freely scream at educators and knock over their beverages. In fact, due to the right wing’s huge advances in free-form teacher abuse, you’re probably safe to bellow out whatever you want about idiots and hollar “TEACH MY GOD DAMNED KID THE TRUTH YOU ASSHOLES” to your heart’s content.
Bottom line: this is some fucked up shit right here. Protect your kids, campers. It’s your job.