Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chipping away at History: Texas conservatives Given Pass, Changes no Big Deal.

Professional industry magazine, Education Week, reports a recent study determined the Texas Board of Education conservative activists changes were minor, and overblown in the press.

So…leave the changes in this time? Leave the changes in next time too? They were bad ideological changes, but not that bad, "for the most part." Actual history has a liberal, fact based slant, that needs to be balanced. What a report:

Criticism of Texas Social Studies Standards Overblown, Analyst Says By Erik Robelen: You may recall all the controversy earlier this year over the work by the Texas state school board, led by a bloc of social conservatives, to revamp the state's social studies standards. But if you look at the final product, the controversy was way overblown, according to Gilbert Sewall, the founder and director of the American Textbook Council, an independent research organization in New York City that reviews history textbooks and other educational materials.

In a new commentary posted on The Answer Sheet, a blog from The Washington Post, he offers some analysis that is sure to ruffle feathers among the board's sympathizers and its sharp critics. "Whatever the fine points and actual language, millions of Americans think Christian extremists on the Texas state school board have completed a radical history overhaul destined to corrupt textbooks nationwide," he writes. "If it is a conservative victory, it is a Pyrrhic victory … "No doubt a few changes—out of thousands of items—were pointed. Republicans tried to use state power to spin historical accounts as they saw them, exactly as multiculturalists have done since the 1990s. Claims of a radical assault on history are false."

Multiculturalists spin? As defined by Wordweb, multiculturalism is the doctrine that several different cultures (rather than one national culture) can coexist peacefully and equitably in a single country. What a outrage? Is that comparable to a Christian extremist spin? But that’s okay, because “for the most part,” not much has changed.
In the end, Sewall contends that the "final Texas standards are for the most part conventional and inclusive. A few items betray a conservative viewpoint. They do not warrant the attention and defamation they have received nor the hysteria they have generated. Little has changed. The new standards on the whole conform to what's already in textbooks, and the impact on history textbooks nationwide will be very limited."
Who will feel comfort in, “the impact will be limited?” This time, and next time too?
Sewall … suggests that in some cases, conservative board members and their allies generated more negative attention with their rhetoric than with what actually ended up in the new standards. And indeed, as he notes, a lot of initial revisions were softened after debate. "The truth is, in the final version, the board majority made many adjustments or retractions to meet criticisms. The one world history item that originally dropped Jefferson restored him. Dolores Huerta stayed. Latino contributions to Texas history remain largely intact. Diversity was alive and well."

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