Sunday, May 30, 2010

Texas Textbook Tragedy: Whitewash of American History

Texas textbook tragedy: Whitewash of American history

The school board erases the slave trade and hip-hop, elevates Sen. McCarthy

By Devona Walker
Fri, 05/28/2010 - 00:00

Politically-motivated history is bad historyIn Texas schools, the Slave Trade is officially no more, it’s the Atlantic triangular trade. Country music is an important modern cultural movement; hip-hop isn't. Thomas Jefferson deserves to be erased from a list of "great Americans." But we apparently need additional chapters on Ronald Reagan.

On Sen. Joe McCarthy, well apparently we’ve all got it wrong. He was not a communism-obessed loon but an American hero. President Obama, though they didn’t entirely erase him out of existence, they did intentionally insert his middle name. He’s now Barack Hussein Obama. Apparently Republican former House speaker Newt Gingrich deserves studying and the National Rifle Association deserves praise for upholding the U.S. Constitution. And Jefferson Davis, the slave-owning president of the Confederacy, should be taught alongside Abraham Lincoln -- who effectively ended slavery.

Last Friday, the Texas State Board of Education passed their blatant, politically-based rewrite of American history. It will affect nearly five million students in Texas. But these standards will also make their way into textbooks outside of Texas.

“The Lone Star State has historically wielded potent, although waning, buying power with the nation's leading K-through-12 textbook publishers," wrote Bryan Monroe in the Huffington Post. "This year, Texas is expected to spend as much as $1 billion buying books. Book orders that large tend to influence, if not dictate, what goes onto the pages in those textbooks not just in Texas, but nationwide. It's often been cheaper for publishers to print one social studies textbook for 50 million 7th graders in several states, rather than customize 50 different textbooks for each.”

So goes the whitewash in Texas, so goes the whitewash in the U.S. It's economics of education. Texas is the biggest market for new teaching materials in the country with 4.7 million school children. It’s curriculum will therefore influence the reading materials of the rest of the naiton.

"The books that are altered to fit the [new] standards become the bestselling books, and therefore within the next two years they'll end up in other classrooms," Fritz Fischer, chairman of the National Council for History Education and a vociferous opponent of the changes, told The Washington Post. "It's not a partisan issue; it's a good history issue."

Don’t Mess with Texas

Texas has been pulling these shenanigans for years. Since the 1970’s the evangelicals down in the Lone Star State have tried time and time again remove textbooks they perceived as being “anti-Christian” out of the rotation. They have prevented Texas children from learning about gay rights and global warming. This year, they have all but removed every reference to Latino American history in this country. And the real irony here is that the majority of the children in the Texas School system are either Black or Latino.

Devona Walker is's senior financial/political reporter and blogger. She can be reached at

No comments: