Their historical fictions, our alarming facts
Once in a while, I like to read a textbook whose flash-and-trash content is akin to that of the National Examiner or Star magazine. However, since the textbook market tends to produce high-quality content (most of the time), horrendously written textbooks are hard to come by for use in this cathartic experience. This may all change soon, due to the fact that the Texas Board of Education recently passed a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative twist on history and economics. Or, less subtly put, bombast you with a Republican lovefest.
The vote, 10 to five along party lines, will structure history in elementary through high school textbooks in a way that glorifies the Republican Party, stresses American capitalism, and asserts that the country was founded solely on Christian beliefs. The conservative members of the panel justified this as a response to what they see as a “liberal bias” in academia. Suddenly, my esteem dropped tenfold for these presumably grouchy old men sittin’ on the board o’ education of the great state of Texas in their Wrangler jeans and their unnecessarily flatulent trucks, placing his intelligence somewhere between Hugh Hefner’s girlfriends (collectively) and that one chick on The Bachelor that everyone hated.
The wizened minds that write textbooks to educate our children also demonstrated that they can employ subtle tactics in their adoration of conservative “values.” Instead of asking hardworking schoolchildren to “describe the role of Ronald Reagan,” the textbook will soon prompt them to “describe Ronald Reagan’s leadership” (emphasis added). A later chapter, I’m sure, will read something like “describe George W. Bush’s leadership in the war on terrorism. Discuss the vastly successful results in grisly detail.”
Students will also be prompted to wax elegant about “the causes ... of the conservative resurgence ... including the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.” This just proves that if there’s anything conservatives like more than thumping their Bibles and toting their guns (or perhaps thumping their Bibles while toting their guns), it’s pandering to stereotypes. This is, after all, a state whose small-town tourist brochures promote the historical significance of the local Bible and Rifle Church. I know because I’ve seen them.
Looking at the situation from an elevated perspective, this might be reminiscent of a Darwin Award, adequately applied to events that deserve merit for the way they make society regress. As individual Darwin Awards recognize individuals who have removed themselves from the gene pool with their idiotic actions, the board of education is on its way to removing Texas from modern civilization. But ironically, that might not even matter. Because in 10 or so years, no one in the Lone Star State is going to believe in Darwin anyway. Oh, the irony.