Ignorance: the new standard in educating America
The Texas State Board of Education recently approved new guidelines for social studies and his-tory classes. The board, made up of social conservatives, had an agenda, which was the elimina-tion of a perceived liberal bias in textbooks.
Their decision guarantees to make an already dumb nation, even dumber.
Among some of the changes to textbooks, the Texas "curriculum plays down the role of Thomas Jefferson among the founding fathers, questions the separation of church and state, and claims that the U.S. government was infiltrated by Communists during the Cold War," according to the Washington Post.
The board's decision is significant. Texas is the largest buyer of textbooks and sets the tone for publishers across the country, thus affecting how subjects are taught.
According to The Nation, "the state's 4.7 million students often move to the top of the market, presenting economy of scale discounts, which tempt other school systems to buy the same mate-rials."
Daniel Czitrom, a professor of history at Mount Holyoke College, argued that conservatives are out of step with how history is taught today.
"They want an American history that ignores or marginalizes African-Americans, women, Lati-nos, immigrants and popular culture," he wrote in an article for CNN. "Rather than genuinely engaging the fundamental conflicts that have shaped our past, they prefer a celebratory history that denies those fundamental conflicts."
But this is really nothing new. According to James W. Loewen's book "Lies My Teacher Told Me," as far back as 1925 the American Legion had elucidated what an ideal textbook should be like.
They said such a textbook must "inspire the children with patriotism," "be careful to the tell the truth optimistically" and "speak chiefly of success."
Inspiring patriotism is important. How else is our ruling elite going to find cannon fodder for the next war?
But you need to brainwash children with a highly sanitized version of history before they can say, "God bless America" with a straight face. And our right-wing brothers and sisters are all too willing to facilitate this propaganda system, which keeps so many of our wonderful wars going.
Thus it should be of no surprise that the Texas State Board of "Educational Destruction" would want President Ronald Reagan to have more textbook attention. Here is where "telling the truth optimistically" goes into high gear.
Ronald Reagan is a man who definitely should be in America's textbooks – not as a venerated leader, but as a war criminal, just another psychopath in a long line of murderous U.S. presi-dents.
Under Reagan, the CIA and U.S. military led bloody operations in Honduras, Guatemala, Nica-ragua and El Salvador to oppress progressive social and economic policies. There was murder, rape, torture and disappearances. This was an era in which U.S. trained death-squads terrorized populations.
Social justice activist and KPFK radio host Blase Bonpane has said, "Unnecessary war is the legacy of the Reagan Administration."
But that version of history will never get into our textbooks. It might inspire students to think critically and ask tough questions. In other words, become savvy citizens.
Instead of educating us, conservatives are engaging in a "terrible trivialization of history, con-tributing to the dumbing-down of what students learn," according to Czitrom.
They praise capitalism like they praise Jesus and they want us not to think any differently.
In the eyes of these dingbats, Thomas Jefferson is less of an American because he wasn't a Bi-ble-thumper, but a logical secularist.
They wish to blur the lines between church and state, because, let's face it, there is a segment of the population that would love nothing more than an American-style Ayatollah in the White House, making sure we pray to Jesus five times a day.
Sadly, for these miserable sods, the Cold War is not over. To them, commies still exist, waiting in the shadows to subvert Wall Street and our precious, soulless consumer culture.
But what conservatives and the Texas State Board of Education must realize is that American history is messy. It is a hodgepodge of beautiful and ugly truths. To teach our children a sani-tized version of U.S. history is doing them a great disservice.
In the end, their textbooks are simply propaganda. Its result is a brainwashed citizenry that does not question, for they have no accurate historical context with which to think.
For the sake of the republic they claim to love so much, the Texas State Board of Education must rescind its decision.