Friday, August 07, 2009

Texas Education Agency Releases Draft 1 of Its New Social Studies Curriculum

Well the Yahoos are in charge of Texas’ social studies curriculum. That’s what you can take away from some of the remarks from the appointed curriculum reviewers that have been posted this week on the TEA’s website.

Mainly, what concerns me is how in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks did an evangelical Christian get appointed to this august body? Peter Marshall of Peter Marshall Ministries, is a self-professed expert in “helping to restore America to its Bible-based foundations through preaching, teaching, and writing on America's Christian heritage and on Christian discipleship and revival.”

In other words, the state school board has hired someone with a singular religious agenda to help rewrite the social studies curriculum. A singular Christian agenda.

This is a huge assault on the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution.

Marshall, in his rambling missive published here, is quite the comedian with his snarky comments. Let me excerpt a few of these:

Grade 8, (31). It says that "the student communicates in written, oral, and visual forms." [No kidding?]. "The student is expected to: (A) use social studies terminology correctly." [And just exactly, pray tell, what is "social studies terminology"?] (B) "use standard grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and punctuation." [That is usually covered under something called "English"]. (C) "transfer information from one medium to another ...using computer software as appropriate" [these Jr. High students learned to do that 5 or 6 grades ago!]. (D) "create written, oral, and visual presentations of social studies information." [This is so vague as to be completely useless].

Therefore, it is imperative that the textbooks and the teachers handle the teaching of history by considering the motivations of those who made American history. In our American situation it is indisputable that the motivational role of the Bible and the Christian faith was paramount in the settling of most ofthe original 13 colonies…”

“113.3 Grade 1. (4) History. The student is expected to CA) "identify contributions of historical figures such as Henrietta King and Thurgood Marshall who have influenced," etc. These two selections are not strong enough examples in light of the multiplicity of persons who have impacted American history. Harriet Tubman and Sam Houston would be better choices, and there are hundreds of others.

Sam Houston? Sam HOUSTON? Wasn’t he a drunk with a permanent wound whose origin was from a sexually transmitted disease? Sam Houston? How do you possibly make a choice between Sam Houston and Thurgood Marshall?

113.7 Grade 5. (b) (1) History. (B) "describe the accomplishments of significant colonial leaders such as Anne Hutchinson, William Penn, John Smith, and Roger Williams." Anne Hutchinson does not belong in the company of these eminent gentlemen. She was certainly not a significant colonial leader, and didn't accomplish anything except getting herself exiled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for making trouble.

Making trouble? Making TROUBLE? Anne Hutchinson is a symbol for religious tolerance and civil liberties. Besides, Anne Hutchinson had the audacity to interpret the Bible, and we all know that this is the exclusive province of men, not wimmen.

But finally, Marshall has the audacity to issue a judgment on the life works of César Chavez of the United Farm Workers, an underdog union of migrant farm workers whose struggle in the 60’s and 70’s against impossible odds helped him to become a national icon.

113.7 Grade 5 (19) Citizenship (C). "Identify significant individuals such as Cesar Chavez and Benjamin Franklin who modeled active participation in the democratic process." To have Cesar Chavez listed next to Ben Franklin is ludicrous. Chavez is hardly the kind of role model that ought to be held up to our children as someone worthy of emulation.”

This is just one man, but these are the kinds of people that the Texas State Board of Education turns to for advice on school curriculum. Is it any wonder at all that Texas continues to be the laughingstock of the nation?

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