Ah, Texas. I don’t know much about the state other than everything is bigger there and it seems to have its own way of doing things. “The Lone Star” seems to be a perfectly fitting nickname for a state that thinks it is a country. So the fact that Texas’ conservative right wing wants to rewrite its textbooks with a Bible-Belt slant doesn’t really surprise me. And why should we care if Texas wants to remove biographies on George Washington and Abraham Lincoln from its textbooks? What if I told you 80 percent of America’s textbooks come from Texas?
Houston, we have a problem.
Granted, it is virtually impossible to write history without being a little biased. And maybe the Texas State Board of Education has a point; textbooks do lean more toward the liberal side. However, the need to “add balance to the classroom” is not going to be accomplished by the changes that have been suggested. If these textbooks become ratified, I fear the already mediocre education system in America will nosedive and we will become less internationally competitive. Here are some of the suggestions I found most disturbing:
1. No more Thomas Jefferson. Just forget him. Not only was he the founder of the Democratic Party, but he also had babies with slaves and came up with that whole “separation of church and state” nonsense. Texans want to stick to remembering the Founding Fathers that actually followed Christian beliefs.
2. Reduce mention of Hispanic culture. A proposal was suggested to expand textbook coverage of Latino history and culture in recognition of Texas’ rapidly growing Hispanic population. That proposal was denied because there is “no need” to draw attention to the fact that the fastest growing minority in the U.S. is Hispanic. Latinos and Hispanics make up around 80 percent of the population in El Paso, but their children’s textbooks shouldn’t acknowledge that.
3. Kids can’t understand fancy terminology. Instead of big, mean words like “capitalism,” the textbooks will explain the “free market enterprise system.” It is a good way to sugarcoat how America used “imperialism” or rather, “expansionism,” to become an economic superpower.
4. Less on feminism and affirmative action that fought workplace discrimination, and more on the National Rifle Association.
So maybe you’re thinking, “Who cares!? Kids don’t actually read their textbooks.” But textbooks are the guide for a teacher’s curriculum. The subjects that will undergo the most change if this is passed are social studies, economics and history. It may be hard to remember what you actually took away from middle school and high school, but I guarantee whatever information actually stuck has been a determining factor in the opinions you hold today. If these texts are given to impressionable young students, it could reshape responses to the questions, “What does it mean to be American?” It is a hard task to pick which decisions and events that have made our country what it is today. The most important thing to remember, though, is that history repeats itself.