Texas Conservatives Approve Changes to School Curriculum

Democracy Now: Texas Conservatives Approve Changes to School Curriculum

Conservatives on the Texas Board of Education have approved a series of major changes to the state’s social studies curriculum. The new curriculum stresses the superiority of American capitalism, questions the separation of church and state, and presents Republican political philosophies in a more positive light. One plank in the new curriculum ensures that students learn about “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.” In economic classes, free market advocates Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek will be mandatory reading. Meanwhile, attempts by Hispanic board members to include more Latino figures as role models in the curriculum were defeated even though half of the state’s four million students are Hispanic. The legendary farmworker organizer Dolores Huerta was removed from the curriculum, as was the Mexican American painter Santa Barraza. Board member Mary Helen Berlanga stormed out of one meeting, saying, “They can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist. They are going overboard. They are not experts, they are not historians. They are rewriting history, not only of Texas, but of the United States and the world.”

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. . . “We are adding balance,” said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”

. . . Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”)

. . . Kathy Miller, [of] the watchdog [group Texas Freedom Network], who has been monitoring the board for 15 years, says, referring to Don McLeroy and another board member: “It is the most crazy-making thing to sit there and watch a dentist and an insurance salesman rewrite curriculum standards in science and history. Last year, Don McLeroy believed he was smarter than the National Academy of Sciences, and he now believes he’s smarter than professors of American history.”

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