Thursday, March 18, 2010

Texas education will soon have conservative bias

When you have the ability to rewrite history, you can shape minds. The Texas State Board of Education is doing just that, eliminating key portions of American history while changing other parts to fit a conservative point of view.

Among the changes, the board is now requiring that students learn the importance of Christianity during the founding of America. However, the board is leaving out some significant points -- that religious persecution motivated the Pilgrims to sail to the New World in the first place, and that many of our founding fathers were, in fact, deists, with those who were Christian advocating a secular state.

One conservative board member, David Bradley, came right out and said, "I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state. I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution."

The First Amendment of the Constitution, in fact, reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." If Bradley needs it spelled out for him further than that, then I challenge him or anyone else for that matter to find in the Constitution where murder is illegal, or where the federal government has the right to grant marriage rights -- for straights, or anyone. My point? Such a narrow interpretation of the Constitution is ridiculous, and Bradley's notion that the Constitution doesn't create a separation of church and state is just as absurd.

Though the changes mark a drastic shift from a secular founding to a Christian one, the changes aren't just religious in nature. Students in Texas will also have to learn about specific conservative movements and groups, such as the Contract with America and the Heritage Foundation. These groups will be portrayed in a positive light, without any objective views being thrown in.

Historical events that involve conservatism need to be discussed. But will liberal events in American history get such a fair treatment? No. In fact, the Texas board has changed many of those events to include caveats and doubts, meant to make liberalism seem inept at doing anything positive.

The Civil Rights curriculum, for example, will include an emphasis on Black Panther violence as well as problems that arose out of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which created gender equality in schools nationwide.

Perhaps most troubling will be the vindication of McCarthyism during the early years of the Cold War. Instead of emphasizing the fanatical rantings of the troubled Senator from Wisconsin, Joe McCarthy, the Texas board voted to point out that some communist infiltration did indeed happen during this time, essentially justifying the mad-man's witch hunt during the 1950s.

None of these changes are inherently false -- but they do omit a large deal of information or emphasize points that aren't important to the overall curricula. Yes, the acts of some violent Black Panthers clouded the Civil Rights movement, but it shouldn't detract from the work and goals of Dr. King and others that the movement sought to accomplish. Yes, there were some communists in America in the 1950s, but their significance was so minute and McCarthy's exaggerations so severe that emphasizing their importance would vindicate the tactics of a man obsessed with power and prestige. And America's founding, though Christian in its beginnings, should also emphasize the important role that religious choice played, as evidenced within the First Amendment and the Pilgrim's voyage to begin with.

Rewriting history to tailor your political views isn't beneficial to society. It doesn't preserve the conservative society that you'd like to have -- it instead creates an ignorant citizenry that will repeat the mistakes of the past, all because people lacked a reasonable, formal education.

The provisions that conservatives want to include should be mentioned but not emphasized to the extent that they want them heard in order to put doubt in the minds of people who might consider some history (that happens to be liberal in nature) important. Likewise, conservative board members shouldn't omit important information they'd like to disregard. Both sides of the story should be told, without bias, on the history of our nation.

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