Dan Quinn at Texas Freedom Network is delivering a useful minute-by-minute report from today’s meeting of the Texas State Board of Education The topic is the Texas Social Studies standards. For those who want to get a flavor of the day’s events, you can watch it all here.
It appears that much of the day has been devoted to hearing testimony from the representatives of various Texas agencies with some stake in the social studies curriculum. What is going on in Austin today is quite depressing.
One of the guests today is Steven Green, the director of the Willamette University Center for Religion, Law, and Democracy. Here is how Quinn describes the exchange between Green and the Board:
10:20 – Steven Green, director of the Willamette University Center for Religion, Law and Democracy is up now. Prof. Green warns that suggestions from so-called “experts” (David Barton and Peter Marshall, essentially) appointed by board members represent “bad history.” He warns that the Founders never intended to create a “Christian nation” based on Christian biblical principles.
10:22 – SBOE member asks Prof. Green: Was the the United States founded on secular or biblical principles? Green notes that it’s not nearly so simple. The influence of Enlightenment was very important.
10:23 – SBOE member Ken Mercer notes that “all 50 state constitutions” refer to God and religion.
10:24 – Prof. Green: it’s a difficult balance noting the influence of religion without exaggerating its influence on the founding. “The bottom line is the founders who created are nation intended to create a secular republic” that protected religious freedom for everyone by keeping government out of religious issues.
10:26 – Ken Mercer rolls out the old canard: the Bill of Rights protects freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. And he disputes that the Founders intended to establish separation of church and state.
A tea-party was also scheduled at noon. I’m not quite sure what they were actually protesting, but Quinn calls it “mostly a bust.” The picture above shows some of the signs waved at the rally.
Check out Quinn’s blog posts to get a feel for the ways in which the culture wars are being played out in the field of history. Here are some themes discussed today.
- Should students learn that America is an “exceptional nation?”
- The Social Studies standards teach student too rely on government too much
- Should the standards include anything in them about globalization, or should they focus on “America first?”
- Do the standards display “socialist propaganda?”
- More Latinos need to be included in the standards
- Quote of the Day: “The name of our country is the United States of America, not the Diverse States of America.”
- The “Judeo-Christian foundations of America and our government” should be emphasized in the standards.
- Here is one from left field: The standards need more content on Sikkhism.
- The standards should not focus too much on “past injustices” like “segregation and racial discrimination.” Wow!
- When it comes to history, the standards should just “stick to the facts.
I’ll stop there, but hopefully you get a good sense of the circus on display in Austin today. This is what happens when non-historians try to mess with state history standards.