Textbook ideology

Who cares about Cesar Chavez and Henry Cisneros when our students could be learning about Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh?

The State Board of Education has appointed “review committees” made up largely of active and retired school teachers to draft new social studies curriculum standards as well as six “expert reviewers” to help shape the final document.

The standards, which the board will decide next spring, will influence new history, civics and geography textbooks.

The first draft for proposed standards in United States History Studies Since Reconstruction says students should be expected “to identify significant conservative advocacy organizations and individuals, such as Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly and the Moral Majority.”

I actually wouldn’t mind ol’ Newtie being in the textbooks, as long the whole truth gets told. Of course, some of that truth would likely be considered too, um, sexually inappropriate for school children. Maybe what we need is a nice long public debate about it first. You can’t be too sure about these things.

Whether students will also be exposed to liberal examples from the ebb and flow of American politics is hard to predict. Conservatives form the largest bloc on the 15-member State Board of Education, whose partisan makeup is 10 Republicans and five Democrats.

David Bradley, R-Beaumont, one of the conservative leaders, figures the current draft will pass a preliminary vote along party lines “once the napalm and smoke clear the room.”

But not all conservative board members share that view.

“It is hard to believe that a majority of the writing team would approve of such wording,” said Terri Leo, R-Spring. “It’s not even a representative selection of the conservative movement, and it is inappropriate.”

Aside to Gail Lowe, the new chair of the SBOE: This is the sort of thing Paul Burka had in mind when he suggested you try to keep David Bradley under control. The alternative is for the “Daily Show” to assign a permanent correspondent to Austin to cover this stuff. Your choice.

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2 Responses to Textbook ideology

  1. Luke says:

    I think there’s plenty of room for an historical analysis of the conservative movement – particularly the tension in national/local control embodied in modern federalist ideology. Something like Teles’ Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement would be a great source of discussion in an upper-level civics class.

  2. Have you actually read the document from which that one sentence is drawn? You know, all 15 pages of the actual proposed revision of the TEKS for the course, not just the slanted article that appeared in the Houston Chronicle. The article makes it sound like the standard requires some sort of hagiographic treatment of conservatism, rather than treating it as one more political/social movement among many during the period since Reconstruction.

    And let’s be very clear here — taken in the context of the entire proposal for revising the TEKS, the conservative movement of the last 30 years gets treated the same way as various political and social movements since Reconstruction — progressivism, populism, the civil rights movement, etc — rather than receiving some sort of special treatment. The reality is that conservative movement has been the defining political force of the last three decades. It ought to be taught, and its major figures do deserve the same sort of mention as the major figures of earlier movements.

    Interestingly enough, every liberal I’ve encountered commenting on this topic expresses teh same concern — that the content of the course won’t reflect a sufficient level of hatred and animus directed at their political opponents.

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