Change will impact students across country
For the next ten years, millions of students in Texas and across the country will read history textbooks suggesting that the actions of witch-hunt instigator Joseph McCarthy were justified. They will read about religious icon John Calvin instead of Thomas Jefferson. They will read a description of the US government that includes the words "constitutional republic" but not the word "democratic."
These are just a few of the changes an ultra right-wing Texas Education Board has tentatively approved for the state's history curriculum. There is one more stage for approval, but the board voted yes to the changes in a 10-5 vote. That's 10 Republicans voting yes and 5 Democrats voting no, making the chances for reevaluation almost negligible.
Once fully approved, it will be a decade before the board reviews the curriculum again.
"I am very distressed," said Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi, who sponsored an unsuccessful amendment to mention that Tejanos were among the fallen heroes of the Alamo.
Most of the board's members make no secret of their intent to instill their own religious and political ideologies into public schools, and the consequences of their activism have far-reaching consequences.
Texas buys so many of the country's textbooks that publishers tailor their books to match its standards as closely as possible. As a Washington Monthly article stated, "When it comes to textbooks, what happens in Texas, rarely stays in Texas."
In other words, students in Rhode Island and Texas could be reading about the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers at the same time. But they won't be reading about the rationale for a separation of church and state. That's gone, too.
Bob Craig, R-Lubbock, voted for the curriculum but said "there is still work to be done."
Most of those 10 people who support the changes describe themselves as Christian fundamentalists, including the board's chairman Don McLeroy.
"All we are doing is reflecting what has actually happened in the country," McLeroy said in a video available below. "Somebody has got to stand up the experts."
It's statements like that prevented this College Station dentist from being reelected. He was criticized for scrawling a note saying that historians have vindicated McCarthy. During a board meeting, he outraged fellow board members by saying this:
"The women's right to vote, the women didn't vote on it, the men did, the men passed it for the women, eventually the civil rights act ... in other words the minorities were not able to do it by themselves," he said.
"Maybe the conservative board members figure Washington and Lincoln should be replaced by Hannity and Colmes," opined a columnist for the Austin American-Statesman. "This board is made up of some who think George Washington was the father of our country, and others who think it was Glenn Beck."
But while many publications have denounced the actions of committee members who describe themselves as Christian fundamentalists, there's always Fox News to offer the counterbalance.
In an article titled "Expert: Reagan gets the shaft in textbooks," Professor Larry Schweikart says the quality of a textbook can be ascertained with the "Reagan test". If it has President Ronald Reagan, it's a winner.
Why? Because he says textbooks' authors are all liberal, of course.
“They all tend to come from New York, Boston, Washington and Philadelphia,” giving them a “drastically” different viewpoint from the rest of America, he says.
The following video aired on ABC News.