Column – Texas textbook changes terrible idea

March 28, 2010 — 1 Comment

Originally published in The Daily Toreador.

When it comes to politics, I tend to be pretty conservative. When it comes to life and learning, I tend to be very Christian. C.S. Lewis is my hero, and I don’t care who knows it.

But a lot of recent events, including this fiasco with the new Texas curriculum, almost have me embarrassed to call myself a Republican.

The Texas State Board of Education has approved large changes to our state’s public school curriculum, which has been severely criticized for being extremely right-leaning. The entire situation is controversial to say the least.

After the vote, Don McElroy, a Conservative member of the board, said the board is trying to add balance to our nation’s curriculum, stating “academia is skewed too far to the left.”

Now, I wouldn’t necessarily disagree that a lot of things in our country, from school books to media networks (Fox News excluded, obviously) lean to the left at least every now and then. However, trying to balance that out by making more things lean way to the right (a la the afformentioned Fox News) just seems absurd.

More than anything, I disagree with the extreme measures being taken to create this lean in the first place. For example, in what appears to be an effort to cast doubt on the idea the Founding Fathers wanted the United States to be a secular nation, former President Thomas Jefferson is not included among a list of influential intellectual writers. Jefferson was a deist (believing in a god but not necessarily the Christian God) who helped spur the idea of separation of church and state.

Jefferson is being replaced by the likes of Catholic philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas and anti-Catholic law scholar William Blackstone.

According to a New York Times article on the subject, there also will be a more positive spin on anti-communism during the Cold War, with Communist witch hunter supreme

Joseph McCarthy seeing at least slightly more positive light than he has in the past, stating the later released Verona papers “confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government.”

So a man for whom we’ve coined a term for reckless accusations (“McCarthyism,”) and who no doubt falsely accused many people of being communist, ruining their careers, will now be supported and treated as something of a fallen hero? Seriously?

Look, people from both sides of the political fence are going to screw up sometimes. You don’t see many Democrats trying to defend the affair of Sen. John Edwards by saying, “It’s OK, because his wife was crazy and paranoid.” Republicans should not try to defend McCarthy by saying, “There were at least some real communists inside the U.S.” It’s a bad strategy.

There will also be changes to terminology. “Capitalism” will be replaced with the term “free market,” for example, as it has better connotations.

The problem with all of this (well, OK, one of the many problems) is that it reeks of desperation and fear. Conservatives in high places are worried about the direction our country is taking, and so they’re panicking by making textbooks as Conservative as they can. Want to raise future Republican presidents? Make sure they believe that conservatism is the best choice.

What they don’t understand is that they’re only going to end up raising ignorant children.

It’s the same problem we face when trying to force the theory of evolution out of schools. If children don’t know about arguments from all sides, then they’re going to be much more easily influenced than if you try to keep them in a bubble.

If we &- both Democrats and Republicans, Christians and non-Christians &- don’t allow for other views in our society, then we become the church in the 1600s, notorious for trying to enforce the geocentric view of the universe. Never mind the fact Galileo, defender of the heliocentric model, was a Christian, or the fact rival geocentric scientists were ultimately more responsible for Galileo’s fate than the church, the church is made the enemy purely because it was, as a whole, stubborn.

History, science, theories and fact aren’t always going to support our views as much as we would like. But the only way to truly better ourselves in the long run is to not try to sweep unwanted ideas under the rug. If your view is the right one, is should stand the test of time in the end. I know I, personally, am confident enough in my ideas that I don’t need to run from conflicting theories. I don’t need to alter science or history in order to make my arguments stronger.

As someone who was homeschooled in high school, I already was considering teaching my future children at home, purely because I believe it can (though doesn’t always) lead to a better learning experience. Now, however, I have another reason to do so. Apparently, if my children are going to learn real history in Texas, I’ll have to teach it to them myself.

Britton Peele


Freelance video game critic for sites like GameSpot and GamesRadar. Amateur fantasy author.

One response to Column – Texas textbook changes terrible idea

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