The conservative bloc on the Texas State Board of Education won a string of victories Friday, obtaining approval for an amendment requiring high school U.S. history students to know about [anti-feminist] Phyllis Schlafly and the [’90s-era Republican] Contract with America as well as inserting a clause that aims to justify McCarthyism.
Why should you care what kind of education that ditto-heads want to force on their kids in the buckle of the Bible belt? Because as Washington Monthly recently reported, this madness will not be contained:
Battles over textbooks are nothing new, especially in Texas, where bitter skirmishes regularly erupt over everything from sex education to phonics and new math. But never before has the board’s right wing wielded so much power over the writing of the state’s standards. And when it comes to textbooks, what happens in Texas rarely stays in Texas. The reasons for this are economic: Texas is the nation’s second-largest textbook market and one of the few biggies where the state picks what books schools can buy rather than leaving it up to the whims of local districts, which means publishers that get their books approved can count on millions of dollars in sales. As a result, the Lone Star State has outsized influence over the reading material used in classrooms nationwide, since publishers craft their standard textbooks based on the specs of the biggest buyers. As one senior industry executive told me, “Publishers will do whatever it takes to get on the Texas list.” … This means that [board member Don] McLeroy and his ultraconservative crew have unparalleled power to shape the textbooks that children around the country read for years to come.
How dangerous is this? McLeroy, the damaged brains behind this movement, says that "Evolution is hooey," and, "The way I evaluate history textbooks is first I see how they cover Christianity and Israel. Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan—he needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes.” Read the whole thing, and get ready to start fighting these battles in Ohio all over again. — Frank Lewis
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