The Texas Schoolbook Victory

Conservatism must be taught in public schools if America is to have a future.

While most of American conservatism is consumed over the life-or-death struggle against Obamacare this week, it's worth taking note of a major victory elsewhere which might, in the long run, prove to be even more important.  The Dallas Morning News tartly summed it up:

A divided State Board of Education decided Friday that history students must remember the Alamo but not the names of Hispanics who fought for Texas' independence.

This was the tip of a much larger iceberg.  The Texas Board of Education has been considering the contents of their state's history textbooks, as they do every decade.  As (presumably) students of history themselves, the board members are well aware of George Orwell's warning:

Who controls the past controls the future.

It's not news that the American educational establishment is predominantly liberal.  Various scholarly studies have demonstrated that, for instance, Ronald Reagan rarely gets proper credit for winning the Cold War, and other textbooks have spent more time discussing Rosa Parks than "Father of the Constitution" James Madison.  We can't help but observe that the Dallas Morning News themselves didn't consider the "names of Hispanics who fought for Texas' independence" to be of sufficient importance as to merit inclusion in their article, but felt schoolchildren's history study time should be spent on them.

The battle has gotten so ridiculous as to force the Texas board to vote down a suggested inclusion of misogynistic, violent hip-hop in the history curriculum "as an example of an important cultural movement."

Why does this matter?  Well, in the immediate term, Texas makes the largest schoolbook purchases of any state so whatever they buy will probably be the cheapest and most widely-available textbooks nationwide.  In that sense, the decisions of the Texas Board of Ed will strongly influence what children learn all across the country: the unknowns who sit on this board may have a greater influence for good or ill than do many famous politicians.

It's long been known that young people tend to be more liberal than their parents.  In part, it's a result of their lack of real-world experience; many aged liberals have spent their entire lives insulated from the real world by cushy posts in government or universities.

But it's also because of the relentless shoving of liberal themes into impressionable young minds.  Will the eventual political views of children differ if they are taught about George Washington, Thomas Edison, and Ronald Reagan, as opposed to Cesar Chavez, Harvey Milk, and Malcolm X?  Of course they will.

For over one hundred years, far-seeing liberals have known the truth of Orwell's quote: by controlling the past, and controlling how our youth are educated about it, they can control the future.  In the early 1900s, John Dewey became the Father of Modern American Education; it's no accident that he's also known as the Father of Progressive Education.

This quote from Dewey's highly influential book The School and Society explains modern liberalism in a nutshell:

What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of its children. [emphasis added]

Sounds fair enough, doesn't it?  The trouble is that it's a recipe for top-down totalitarianism.

Dewey felt that "the best and wisest" should choose the curriculum for everybody - and who is "the best and wisest" but ruling liberals like Dewey and his associates?  After all, they've been to Harvard!  They know better than you!

By the nature of children, somebody does know better than they.  The whole point of being a parent, teacher, or other authority figure is that you have wisdom that the kids don't have, and your job is to impart it to them whether they like it or not.  Exactly what that "wisdom" consists of will have a massive influence on the later lives of those children.

A teacher who instills the Great Men and Great Deeds of history into his young charges may inspire them to greatness in their own lives.  A teacher who honors Thomas Edison may inspire the next world-changing inventor; a teacher who reveres George Washington or Dwight Eisenhower may influence a future American general.

Whom do the Democrats on Texas' Board of Ed want our youth to follow?  Violent racists like Malcolm X, union militants like Cesar Chavez, and footnotes to history whose only claim to historical fame is being in the right place at the right time as members of a preferred race or gender.

Since the days of John Dewey, one step at a time, the leftists and progressives of each succeeding generation have managed to instill their philosophy into our teachers' colleges, universities, professorships, and individual schools right down to your local elementary and kindergarten.  For the most part, this has been unopposed or subject only to ineffective complaints by disorganized parents who can be browbeaten by someone with a string of degrees.

There is an instructive counter-example.  Over the past fifty years, our nation has experienced an uninterrupted slide into leftism in all aspects of life - save one: While every other leading indicator has shown Americans to be becoming more liberal, more statist, more socialistic, and more libertine, those same polls also show increasing revulsion with the practice of abortion.  A growing majority of Americans have realized that abortion does, in fact, stop a beating heart and kill children.

Why the difference?  Because, while conservatives have used every political means at their disposal to roll back the tide of abortion, they have placed equal emphasis on education - persuading ordinary, non-political Americans that abortion is simply wrong by clearly explaining just what it is.  The left is furious and fuming, but they have been unable to stop the ongoing march of truth; the more they talk about abortion, the more people think about it and the more they feel ill.

It has taken a hundred years, but finally, finally, conservatives have begun to realize the insidious impact of liberalism in our schools.  As irritated as homosexual activists are that their agenda has been stopped in many states, they have only to look to the schools to realize that, in a decade or two, their opponents will have mostly died leaving voters who've been brought up to the strain of the mantra "Gay is OK!"

Most products of American universities would never think the question the idea that the Federal government can regulate, command, and control basically any activity in the country; is that not the natural order of things?

By instilling the fundamental precepts of liberalism in our next generation from the earliest age, the Left has won 90% of the battle - but not all.

We see the rise of homeschooling over the past thirty years and the exponential growth in private schooling.  These alternatives, as important as they are, can never provide a voting majority of well-educated Americans who understand our nation's founding principles and are able to critically think about liberal dogma.

If we are ever to see a return to the limited government of the Constitution, we have no choice but to take back the public schools.  The conservative majority on Texas' Board of Education, whose names none of us have never heard of and who will never be listed in any textbook, have won the first victory in that great battle.

It's up to all of us to ensure that it isn't the last.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments
One problem with the "melting pot" ideal touted by many of today's conservative voices is that even after a family has been assimilated into American culture, it may still have a different American history than that of the majority.

My family arrived in North America some 20 years after the Mayflower, but as Acadians our story is very different from that of the early Americans everyone thinks about. After suffering what has been called the first example of ethnic cleansing in North America, some of us relocated to what would later be called Louisiana and fought in the American Revolution under General Galvez of Spain (it could be argued that those early Cajuns, some of whom had childhood memories of the deportation of 1755, weren't fighting FOR the Americans so much as AGAINST the British). In Louisiana, modern Cajun children learn about this in their history classes. I have nothing against that at all, as those events were part of the local history and part of the history of many of the families who live in the area. I guess in all fairness I must similarly have nothing against Texan Hispanics wanting to have their own story told in their own local history classes.

Or, if not, from whence the directive to the local communities on what history to teach and what to exclude? It sounds like you are advocating more of the same Federal control over local schools that we've seen creeping in over the last few decades, which I AM opposed to.

One of the reasons the Fed has been allowed to grow so vast is that even those who are opposed to such growth are sorely tempted to look the other way when Federal growth would seem to strengthen their own other interests. So we've seen our bound devil slowly unshackled, a hoof here, a horn there, all for various good causes -- but where does it end?
March 17, 2010 9:48 AM
it seems that Texas board of education is using the same immoral and irrational methods of their "Liberal" adversaries in not teaching children to think but substituting one idiotic dogma for another, neither of which benefits the kids or prepares to act in a moral & rational manner, but substitutes acceptance for judgement, conformity for discovery.
And where is the challenge against the federal interference with education aka the No Child Left Behind which Bush II, in a fit of more-is-less government pique, foisted upon all states with Congressional approval, of course?
Education based on fear is not an acceptable alternative to so-called progressive values, but a regressive and wrong methodology.

March 17, 2010 3:01 PM
I am vehemently opposed to Federal dictation of educational standards. I hold to the long-forgotten plank of the Republican platform which called for the federal Dept. of Education to be shut down as not the proper prerogative of the national government. Scragged was not publishing when Bush enacted NCLB, so we never addressed that particular issue.

I see nothing wrong with local schools studying local history, in fact that is one of the strengths of what used to be a very distributed system.

In the particular case of Texas and the Alamo Hispanics, they were wanting to emphasize people who had no particular outstanding claim to special honor. We respect (for example) the ordinary soldiers who died at Gettysburg, but nobody would think it reasonable to publish all their names in a high-school textbook. Instead we see Gen. Lee, Gen. Meade, and maybe Pickett. That issue is yet another example of liberals devaluing history through racial tokenism.

The point is that it was LOCAL conservatives - in this case, state school board members - that fought and won a victory for conservatism. We should not constantly be looking for the next national-level Reagan. Instead, fight and win local battles locally, and the national ones will eventually come.
March 17, 2010 4:49 PM
History is and always will be a matter of opinion. There is very little 'truth' to be found in any given history.

People are horrified when Japan wants to down play the rape of Nanjing but no one cares that America never mentions the fire bombing of Tokyo. In many ways the fire bombing of Tokyo was more horrifying than the atomic bombs being dropped.

Most Americans will tell you that we had to drop those bombs to avoid an all out assault on Japan. However there is ample evidence that not only were the Japanese seeking peace, they had began communicating their desire to end the war before December 1944. The Japanese had one demand, the retention of the Emperor as sovereign before the dropping of the Atomic Bomb. The Japanese had one demand after the dropping of the Atomic Bomb.

'History' will never be taught in any primary school. History, as a matter of education is, the of reading primary documents mixed with reading various opinions about how to interpret those primary documents.

History classes in high school are nothing attempts to control how children perceive America and the rest of the world. Mostly American high school history classes teach fables. There is about as much truth in them as there is in the stories of Paul Bunyan.
March 17, 2010 7:35 PM
Jonyfries last 2 paragraphs are COMPLETELY TRUE and are why it is so important that, if conservatives want to influence the future, they must insist that conservative viewpoints be taught.
March 17, 2010 10:21 PM
Conservative lies are no better than liberal lies. The abuse of history is the great evil a government or society can perpetrate on either itself or it's people.
March 17, 2010 10:33 PM
"conservatives have begun to realize the insidious impact of liberalism in our schools"

I do not think so. They will never change :-)

Although, reflection of message was nice.
March 18, 2010 3:12 AM
Jonyfries makes several good points but I'm not sure what "conservative lies" are? McCain has been known to lie a bit but then much of what he says isn't conservative. Conservative, as I define it, is the exposition of individualism. There aren't many lies that are propagated by conservatives to promote individualism.
March 18, 2010 6:42 AM
Jonyfries has illustrated one of the most insidious effects of liberalism's total capture of our educational system: the supremacy of the concept of moral relatvism and rejection of the very concept of Truth. What jonyfries states is what most liberals believe: there is no such thing as "truth" in the abstract, it's all in how you look at it.

As conservatives, we utterly reject this belief - and yes, it is really a reflection of a negative religious belief. Absolute truth does, in fact, exist, and can be discerned. All viewpoints are not equally valid nor equally accurate. Yes, of course all human beings are fallible, make mistakes, and do wrong things, conservatives not excepted. But all viewpoints should be analyzed on their own merits or lack thereof.

Modern philosophy is basically a rejection of the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the scientific search for truth - basically, everything that created the modern world.
March 18, 2010 9:56 AM

cushy posts in government or universities was a grate properties of this country that's time.
also a man need security but where he get sequined must using rights her change .
i know educated mother prove to her participation on economics and that's other.
we are think some thing here president of usa.where he come at this place.
a teacher can not be make terrorist he also make educated general.but all people must be known as good work excellent result.

March 18, 2010 11:30 AM
in paragraph 2:
"By the nature of children, somebody does know better than they. The whole point of being a parent, teacher, or other authority figure is that you have wisdom that the kids don't have, and your job is to impart it to them whether they like it or not. Exactly what that "wisdom" consists of will have a massive influence on the later lives of those children."

yes, I agree but the "wisdom" should not be a rule, because the "whisdom" is in ways a wise and graceful in educating children to become better...

i hope this helpful
March 18, 2010 6:39 PM
Petrarch has yet to address the removal of Thomas Jefferson from the textbooks...

Not suprising since he coined "seperation of..."

Which is exactly why Jefferson spoke those words, One, he wanted to protect religion from the government, And two, He wanted to protect the people from a theocracy. What we have here in Texas has Jefferson spinning in his grave.

I say we put Jefferson Back in and highlight the Treaty of Triploi to educate students with truth rather that rhetorical fodder.
March 18, 2010 8:10 PM
no matter what, teaching history is going to be political. Can you imaginable writing a history of the Napoleonic Wars that would be acceptable both to the English and to the French?

This is a skirmish in the Culture Wars just like any other.
March 18, 2010 9:08 PM
Any study of serious study of history will show you that we don't know the truth about anything in history. Everything is opinion. If you talk to two people who saw a car accident the accounts will be very different even in the most simple of cases. Look then instead at the fall of the soviet union. There are so many small things that led to its fall that it is impossible to conclusively say 'This Is It!'

All you can ever have is opinion. There is of course actual truth. But it is unknowable in history. We can know that 1+1=2, we can know the distance between the sun and the earth. We can never know what happened at Gettysburg with any certainty, we can only look at the myriad of evidence and put together something that approximates the truth.
March 18, 2010 9:25 PM
Of course we can know what happened at Gettysburg: Lee lost. Or are you arguing that maybe he really won and we've just been lied to all these years?

Now, true, specific details we can never know, and we can't possibly know every factor that contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union either. But we can definitely know facts of what did happen, and general observations as to the macro-level why.

Regarding Jefferson, I have yet to see any evidence that he was removed from Texas history books. Obviously I would oppose that; he was a very major founding father and most definitely deserves to be discussed at length.
March 19, 2010 8:13 AM
I don't agree that history is just one opinion versus another. There IS a certain level of evidence to back claims. In some circumstances, the evidence is shakey, but that itself - the shakiness of the evidence - can be part of the history lesson.

"We don't much more than" because "the evidence" or "writings of Mr..." can be used to properly set up the context of the area of history in question. This should be the case in a variety of subjects. Sadly, biology teachers have chosen not to use this (correct) approach and instead now assert major assumptions and theories as concrete facts.

Futhermore, as video and audio tools continue to document events, the lack of concrete evidence will become even less of an issue.
March 19, 2010 8:20 AM
Teaching history is going to be political. Can you imaginable writing a history of the Napoleonic Wars that would be acceptable both to the English and to the French?
March 19, 2010 2:56 PM
History is composed of stories, each with their own degree of truth. Some truths are so complex that it is very difficult for a human mind (let alone a young human mind) to comprehend them fully. So, we use narratives that are "close enough". Sometimes, one narrative is selected over another not because it is demonstrably closer to the truth but because it seems politically beneficial to the selector.

This doesn't mean that "all viewpoints are valid" so much as it means that "all viewpoints are suspect".

lfon, I assume you are talking about the theory of evolution, and that you would prefer that intelligent design were taught in the classroom. Can you tell me any predictions that the theory of intelligent design would make about things we are likely to discover in the future (specifically, things that would strengthen its assertions)?
March 19, 2010 3:07 PM

No, there are no predictions that ID makes about the future. Nor does that matter. Something is not less correct because it cannot predict the future. And if that is the standard by wish you measure correctness, then macro-evolution remaines completely false. There is *nothing* anywhere about our current or future existence that macro-evolution has correctly predicted. Biologists continue to ignore the fact that, in a 150 years since Darwin, the fossil record remains non-gradualistic.

In truth, neither ID or macro-evolution should be taught in the classroom as anything more than theories, which both of them. Both of them have illogical natures as they pertain to physics and both can never be completely verified.

Let's not miss the point of the article. Arguing macro-evolution/ID is a red herring to the wonderful point being made here about our education system.
March 19, 2010 4:18 PM
"Can you imaginable writing a history of the Napoleonic Wars that would be acceptable both to the English and to the French"

Yes, one in which only the dates and events were told. That can be done objectively without bias or agenda if the writer if very careful.

No winner or loser needs to be identified. The writer would simply state that on X date, X troops arrived at X location. And at X date, X troops departed from X location.
March 19, 2010 4:21 PM

The theory of evolution does indeed make predictions, and they have come true. For starters, it predicts that we will find examples of intermediate species in fossil layers between ancestral species and more modern ones. This has been demonstrated many times.

To my knowledge, ID doesn't make any predictions at all, other than possibly "someday we'll know for sure that there is a God and that he made everything".

The latest strain of ID trying to get into the classroom doesn't actually argue against evolution, at least not out loud. Gerald Schroeder's books argue that both the specific creation story of the Bible AND evolution are accurate. I don't agree with him on many points, but it sounds like you might find his work interesting (I'd recommend them if you find yourself in the position of HAVING to believe in Biblical creationism).

Agreed that this is not really the place for this discussion.

March 19, 2010 6:51 PM

That would work until you got to the point of who started certain engagements. No nation likes to be labeled the aggressor.

Due to my family background, I have done a fair amount of research into the causes and events surrounding "le Grand Derangement", or the deportation of the Acadians from their lands by the British in 1755. A direct ancestor of mine, a young boy orphaned by the deportation, barely survived one of its most brutal and disturbing events (the St. Anne's Massacre). This is an event that few people (other than some modern Acadians) seem to care about, so you'd think that it wouldn't be very controversial, but in its way it remains so. In fact, it was only a few years ago that the Queen of England officially acknowledged that the deportation happened at all. My point is that it can take a great while after everyone connected to anyone involved in a controversial historical event is dead before people are willing to look at it with anything resembling objectivity -- even enough objectivity to admit that yes, troops were deployed in an area and people were evicted from their homes.
March 19, 2010 7:06 PM

I knew that you would point to the fossil record, which is why I preemptively stated that it has always been and continues to be NON-gradualistic.

There have been plenty of instances in which a find was eagerly claimed to be cross-species but every time, in the end, they have been wrong.

In other words, fossils of horses have been found with different lengths of tails. But no fossil has ever been found that showed a half-horse, half-pig combination. Ever variation has been WITHIN a species, not a cross from one to another.

This is what is known as a non-gradualistic fossil record.

Macro-evolution relies on the fossil record being gradualistic - that is, fossils that show a gradual transition over time.

Now, it's very possible that you've just never heard about the "gradualistic finds" turning out not to be. In most instances, the media (and the science community at large) never says anything when their "missing link" fossils end up being wrong. You have dig to find it.
March 20, 2010 7:44 AM

"Half-horse, half-pig combination"?

You, sir, are a hoot. Such a fossil would cause significant waves as a CHALLENGE to the ToE, not an affirmation of it.

Again, if you find that you MUST believe in the Biblical account of creation, I highly recommend Dr. Gerald Schroeder's work. You can start with "The Science of God". It's not my cup of tea but it would probably provide you with all the evidence you'd need to accept both the Biblical and scientific accounts of creation.

I'd also invite you to the usenet newsgroup if you want to get an education on the fossil record (which IS gradualistic by any reasonable definition of the word -- no cretaceous horses, etc.)

March 20, 2010 10:40 AM

You're missing the forest for the trees. The combination I suggested was just an example of any random cross-species transition. I'm sure you knew that.

The debate isn't between ID and macro-evolution. It's about what should be taught in school.

ID is not equal to "Biblical creationism". Such a statement further demonstrates your focus on the trees. ID is a abstract concept. "Biblical creationism" is merely one implementation of that concept.

I've actually read The Science of God. While thought-provoking, Schroeder's sources are confusing and at times self-contradictory.

Since I've read yours, I'd like you to read mine. I choose "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed". It's a documentary about how the science community refuses to have any intellectual discussion on the possibility that Darwin was incorrect and how they malign and destroy anyone that disagrees (even tenured, formerly respected intellectuals).

The reason I choose "Expelled" is because it correctly re-aligns the debate. Arguing about the fossil record is a distraction. You'll say that gradualistic fossils have been found, and I'll ask you to produce them and we'll go in circles. The REAL issue here is how our public schools have chosen to sakes sides.
March 20, 2010 11:02 AM

The scientific community is quite open to criticisms of Darwin. I don't think there are any serious evolutionary biologists around today who think Darwin was right about everything he proposed. He made a number of assertions that further investigation proved to be untenable. Those assertions have since been discarded by the scientific community. That's the great thing about science (when implemented correctly) -- sooner or later, the untenable ideas get pitched.

Choosing a pig and a horse to discuss "cross-species transition" makes no sense. No one thinks pigs evolved from horses or vice-versa. They share common ancestors, but those common ancestors might look more like shrews than either pigs or horses. There ARE plenty of fossil examples of species resembling horses but not quite "there". Meanwhile, there are no examples of, say, birds or mammals in the Devonian era. There's a clear progression from invertebrates to early vertebrates to fish to amphibians to reptiles and so on, in order of appearance. If you look at the whole forest, as you say, and not just the trees, you see gradualism.

If you want to believe that ID isn't really about Biblical Creationism, you're free to indulge yourself.

I'd appreciate any solid refutation of Schroeder that you can provide. As for "Expelled", I may check it out. Always interested in new perspectives.

Public schools have to take sides on a number of issues, including historical ones like the one mentioned in the original article here. In the case of evolution, they are simply taking the side that makes the most sense given the data. There is no grand conspiracy against the Bible by cackling, hand-wringing scientists who hate Jesus.
March 20, 2010 1:02 PM
Depending on what we are talking about dates can not always be agreed upon. There are at least two theories of time lines for the Egyptian dynasties.

There is now good evidence that the Chinese circumnavigated the world centuries before Columbus.

While it is generally possible to agree on 'dates' dates are completely meaningless. Looking at history as a series of events provides no value. That the colonies won the Revolutionary War is not interesting. How they won, why they fought, and what it meant for the British Empire and the world are all interesting things to look at.

Take 'the shot heard around the world.' The date that it happened, the place that it happened do not mean anything useful. Important only to allow discussion of the event. Had it happened in a different town or a year later the progression of history would not have been greatly different. What is important is why it happened and what effect it had. The British were attempting to seize weapons and a few men got in their way. This galvanized those wanting violent resistance.

That is what matters an as you should be able to tell from reading that it is my opinion. Not fact. I can back it with evidence but it could be argued many other ways.

History as it is taught in American High Schools is useless to the students because it does not provide historical prospective nor the ability to understand complex issues where you can't trust any of the sources. It is merely a list of events and dates.
March 27, 2010 12:33 AM
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