Should the federal government impact curriculum choices in the states? Can it afford to be uninvolved? Was segregation something that would have ended without federal involvement? How far should the feds go in forcing certain things like say teaching in English? Or politically correct ideas which might change with each season?
Most likely by now any reader here has heard about the Texas board of education changing the criteria for what must be taught in the social studies curriculum in Texas schools and thereby impacting what will be taught in schools throughout the nation.
[How the Texas Textbook Revision Came to Be]. and SOE's Controversial Curriculum Changes (Remember the Alamo?]
If you are an extreme right winger, you are probably thrilled-- about time. If you are a scholar, you are horrified-- the end of serious education. If you got your news from Fox, [Fox on Texas textbook social studies standards American history] you got one version of what this means. New York Times a different one [Texas Conservatives Win Vote on Textbook Standards]
If you think Thomas Jefferson talked entirely too much about separation of church and state, you might not mind that he's not going to be in the curriculum but a French theologian, John Calvin will be. Or would you? Should children be taught that Joseph McCarthy was a hero? Some think so. [The Rehabilitation of Joseph McCarthy in Texas Textbooks].
I suppose one might take this in stride with it's just Texas, except there is an impact evidently on all textbooks by what Texas chooses. Publishers evidently cater to the big states and they won't be printing various versions for other states. [T is for Texas Textbooks].
Since the people deciding on the curriculum for Texas are not historians, not sociologists, not economists, not even theologians, who are they? Partisan right wingers who mostly have a political agenda they want taught. Is this the beginning of the end of public schools when these decisions are not made by educators but by those who think Newt Gingrich's Contract with America was more important than the author of the Constitution? Is it any better when the left wing pushes through changes like that we don't need to teach about Edison or the Wright Brothers but should teach about Amos cookies, whatever they are.
Paul Krugman wrote about this issue in January. Texas Textbooks where he quoted Paul Samuelson.
“I don’t care who writes a nation’s laws — or crafts its advanced treatises — if I can write its economics textbooks.”I understand the conservative concern that states should have power over education except shouldn't educators be the ones making these decisions? Shouldn't national textbooks by put together by experts in their fields? I don't think liberals should have any more say over the information in textbooks than conservatives. It should be historians who decide what was historical and so forth. The agenda should not reflect partisan politics nor what is political correct this week. I am naive to even hope that would be how it ends up.
To me the idea that textbooks are not put together by experts and maybe haven't been for some time, is very disturbing. I have grandchildren at stake in this battle. I don't mind them being presented with different sides of a debate, but how do you leave Thomas Jefferson out of a book about the history of this country? How does a French theologian, however famous, make the grade? Has our country gone nuts?
All I can say to parents and grandparents-- check what your children are being taught and make sure to put your own knowledge into the mix! It might be the only place they hear it.