WHAT DO WE TEACH OUR CHILDREN?
When I taught high school history I always began each semester by telling the students to hold every statement in the history text in suspect, because every account and record has fallacies of bias. All enduring history has been recorded by the winners of wars. If you win the war you get to tell history from your perspective. The books also contain cultural biases. History that is recorded by different nations does not necessarily agree on events, as national historians tend to record history to reflect their nation’s best image.
I asked students to use the text as a guide line (a time line) to consider events as a basis to begin exploration and discussion. To understand events is far better than memorizing dates and heroes.
Back in the eighties, when I began teaching, I did not occur to me to ask my students to question math and science. To me those disciplines were factual and indisputable. But today every discipline, every text book should be held to question.
No mater where you live in this country or where you child goes to school it is likely that the text books they use have been influenced by the Texas School Board.
As a general rule, public school districts across the country are free to choose the text book series they wish to teach in their schools, and each district pays the cost of new text book series. But
acquired its power over the text book
companies by paying 100% of the cost of all school text books, providing the
books are selected from series approved by the Texas State School Board. Texas
There are approximately five million students in
so text book companies strive to get on the short approved list of the Texas State
School Board. Texas
The Texas State School Board has fifteen members. The board approves all textbooks, curriculum and supplemental material used in
public schools. Texas
In the early 1960’s religious fundamentalist targeted the State School Board because they feared that their children were being indoctrinated in Godless secularism by the liberal leaning text books being used in schools. There was never a large turnout for School Board elections and so over the next decade the Christian conservatives co-opted the fifteen seats, consolidating control over curriculum and text book purchases
The cost of producing a science text book can run as high as five million dollars, and the books have to be produced on speculation. The
Texas market is so large that text book companies feel
they must conform to
standards. The books approved by the
Texas School Board are likely to be mass produced by the publishers, so other
states buy them to take advantage of cost savings. Texas
school board member believed that public
schools were the tool of the devil; another openly stated that “evolution is
hooey.” The board as a hole believed
that evolution, global warming and the separation of church and state were
As a results
fundamentalist have heavily influenced history, social studies and science
curriculums across the nation. Texas
Science books now skirt the theory of evolution and any science that might compete with biblical teachings.
History books do not highlight slavery and segregation – they mention the attack on the twin towers but do not cover the
US attack on Hiroshima
and . In general History text have been watered
Social Studies text justify McCarthy anti-communist witch hunt by the inclusion of the Venona papers. The School Board demanded the includes the cattle industry boom of the nineteenth century; the problem of immigration; the philanthropy of industrialist; Phyllis Schlafly’s opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment; the Contract with America; the Heritage Foundation; the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association in social studies text.
The list of concessions to the Texas State School Board could continue, but the fact remains that for the last fifty years the Christian conservative Texas School Board members have had a detrimental impact on the accuracy of the material we teach our children in school.
Entering the second decade of the twenty-first century, the influence of small passionate minority’s in our schools curriculums is receding. A concerted effort by liberals to replace the conservative, fundamentalist Christians on the Texas School Board has to some extent succeeded. Book publishers are now moving to on-line publishing which drastically cuts the cost of production and decreases their vulnerability to manipulation by the Texas School Board.
The outcome quality of our education system is only as good as the accuracy of the information we are required to teach; and giving the classroom teacher the autonomy to encourage students to question, explore discuss and form their own opinions would be far more productive than teaching rote to prescribed text books.