Don't Mess With the Texas Curriculum


It is difficult to determine just what specific curriculum changes the Texas school board has in mind, though the ringleader of the revisionist faction, a creationist weirdo named Don McLeroy, strikes me as one who wants to impart ideology into the textbooks, not balance. Historians, it seems, are also skeptical. According to this report from Yahoo News, the McLeroyites, who believe that humans raked leaves alongside dinosaurs, want changes in the following areas:

Changes in specific terminology. Terms that the board's conservative majority felt were ideologically loaded are being retired. Hence, "imperialism" as a characterization of America's modern rise to world power is giving way to "expansionism," and "capitalism" is being dropped in economic material, in favor of the more positive expression "free market." (The new recommendations stress the need for favorable depictions of America's economic superiority across the board.)

A more positive portrayal of Cold War anticommunism. Disgraced anticommunist crusader Joseph McCarthy, the Wisconsin senator censured by the Senate for his aggressive targeting of individual citizens and their civil liberties on the basis of their purported ties to the Communist Party, comes in for partial rehabilitation. The board recommends that textbooks refer to documents published since McCarthy's death and the fall of the Soviet bloc that appear to show expansive Soviet designs to undermine the U.S. government.

Language that qualifies the legacy of 1960s liberalism. Great Society programs such as Title IX—which provides for equal gender access to educational resources—and affirmative action, intended to remedy historic workplace discrimination against African-Americans, are said to have created adverse "unintended consequences" in the curriculum's preferred language.

Thomas Jefferson no longer included among writers influencing the nation's intellectual origins. Jefferson, a deist who helped pioneer the legal theory of the separation of church and state, is not a model founder in the board's judgment. Among the intellectual forerunners to be highlighted in Jefferson's place: medieval Catholic philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas, Puritan theologian John Calvin and conservative British law scholar William Blackstone. Heavy emphasis is also to be placed on the founding fathers having been guided by strict Christian beliefs.

Excision of recent third-party presidential candidates Ralph Nader (from the left) and Ross Perot (from the centrist Reform Party). Meanwhile, the recommendations include an entry listing Confederate General Stonewall Jackson as a role model for effective leadership, and a statement from Confederate President Jefferson Davis accompanying a speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.

A recommendation to include country and western music among the nation's important cultural movements. The popular black genre of hip-hop is being dropped from the same list.

McLeroy and his allies are quite plainly fanatics, so while there should be a mention of Venona in high school history classes (but this doesn't in any way, as I argued here, vindicate McCarthyism) and the 1960s shouldn't be treated only as a time of peaceful revolution guided by sensible, non-violent liberationist impulses (most students are baffled to later find that, contrary to those lazy documentaries full of Scott McKenzie songs, most Americans supported the war in Vietnam, YAF filled Madison Square Garden with student anti-Communists, and Nixon stomped the liberal George McGovern in 1972), these people are not to be trusted to achieve some sort of "balancing" of the historical record. The band of amateur historians and paleontologists in the McLeroy camp simply desire more Jesus and less liberalism—full stop. Which explains the calumny of expelling Thomas Jefferson from the pantheon of American founders for his well-known skepticism of organized religion.