Well, folks, the Texas school board is at it again.
We thought Texas had ventured into the 20th Century last year when the board stopped requiring its educators to teach about alternatives to evolution, like creationism and, I suppose, whatever process resulted in the members of the Texas school board.
But you know how it is with Texas. One century forward, two centuries back.
This year, the school board endeavored to take a closer look at history and decided there was too much of it. It was deemed necessary to “streamline” history because, a board spokesperson said, there were simply too many historical figures for the kids to learn about. It’s as if they think history is a big-budget movie that’s coming in at three and a half hours. Some edits need to be made. And some pretty big names may be left on the cutting room floor.
The board devised a test by which it could determine who wasn’t absolutely necessary to the story . . . of the world. It included asking itself questions like “Did the person trigger a watershed change”; “Was the person from an underrepresented group”; and “Will their impact stand the test of time?”
It then applied this formula to people who, I’m guessing, it kind of wanted to get rid of anyway.
Hillary Clinton, for instance. The board only gave her five points out of a possible 20, so she clearly failed this test, as well as any future appearance on Dancing With the Stars. Therefore, she will be erased from history, in Texas at least. Evidently, it wasn’t enough to be the first and only female presidential nominee of a major party, Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and First Lady. I’m not sure how Texas educators are managing to teach about Donald Trump without mentioning her. “Oh, yes, children, in a shocking upset, our supreme leader beat . . . somebody.”
Speaking of Trump, you may be wondering if he was subjected to the same scrutiny that eliminated Clinton. He wasn’t, because Texas kids are automatically taught about the current president no matter who (or what) he or she is. But the school board did make a change that is obviously in deference to Trump. In a lesson teaching “how individuals can participate voluntarily in civic affairs,” the phrase “holding public officials to their word” has been deleted. Really.
Meanwhile, Hillary was even outscored by Helen Keller, who got a seven, which still wasn’t enough to keep her in Texas schools, even though it’s hard to imagine someone from a more “underrepresented group” (maybe if she had also been black). Sam Houston made the cut, though. As did Moses. The latter kept his place in history not for leading the Jews out of slavery, but because he was one of the “individuals whose principles of laws and government institutions informed the American founding.” You know, because Moses came down from the Mount with the 10 amendments.
As Jonathan Saenz said about the figures in the previous paragraph, “In Texas, you don’t mess with the Alamo and you don’t mess with our Christian heritage.”
Who is Jonathan Saenz, you ask? Well, you don’t need to know since he won’t be on the final exams, but FYI, he’s the president of an organization called Texas Values, a conservative Christian political advocacy group whose website, after the school board rulings, featured this frankly disturbing graphic:
Unsurprisingly, Texas Values had sent members to speak before the school board during its deliberations. In other words, not only have lobbyists destroyed our democracy, they’re now destroying history.
The Texas school board was particularly busy this year. It is also recommending:
- Reinserting references to “German invasions of Poland and the Soviet Union, the Holocaust, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Normandy landings, and the dropping of the atomic bombs” into a section on “the major events of World War II.” Reinserting? What was left when these references weren’t included–Captain America attacking Hitler?
- Reinserting a reference to “the Judeo-Christian legal tradition” in a section on “the development of democratic-republican government from its beginnings.” This is interesting because the concept of a democracy began in Greece around 507 B.C., and the folks in Texas might want to look up what “B.C.” stands for. The Jews were around then, of course, but Texas probably wouldn’t want to give them that much credit.
- Removing the Strawberry Festival in Poteet (the “Strawberry Capital of Texas”) from a section on “customs, celebrations, and traditions of various cultural, regional, and local groups in Texas.” I can only think that they had to delete the Poteet Strawberry so that schools could cover the Odessa Jackrabbit Roping competition.
In conclusion, I wonder if somebody should point out to the Texas school board that keeping the number of historical figures down to what it considers a manageable level is destined to be an Sisyphusian task, what with new historical figures showing up all the time.
At the same time, the person who points that out might want to tell the Texas school board who Sisyphus was. I think he got deleted in 2007.
See you soon.
P.S. Yes, this is entry #800. 800 of these things (not counting bonus posts) over more than seven years. If you’re late to the party, click “Sign Me Up” at the top of this page to become a follower and get FREE emails the two times a week I put something up. And if you like what you see, please share!