Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Let's Mess with Texas

I read this article on the Sydney Morning Herald website this morning, and had to marvel at what a system the US education board setups are.  To learn a little more, read the Wiki articles on US Education, School Board and School District.  In the District article, it notes that Texas has a unique setup.  This is also noted here.

"Texas — Here, "Independent" denotes that the district is separate from any county- or municipal-level entity. All of the state's school districts, with only one exception (Stafford Municipal School District), are independent of any municipal or county control. Moreover, school district boundaries rarely coincide with municipal limits or county lines. Most districts use the term "Independent School District" in their name; in the few cases where the term "Common School District" is used the district is still an independent governmental entity."

Texan School Districts are actively independent, answering to none but themselves it appears.  And the power they wield seems very strong, as the reference to textbooks and other states following suit would attest.  As for the curriculum, one new board member refers to changes being made as 'corrections'.
"Those corrections prompted a blizzard of accusations of rewriting history and indoctrinating children by promoting right-wing views on religion, economics and guns while diminishing the science of evolution, the civil rights movement and the horrors of slavery."
It continues: "Several changes include sidelining Thomas Jefferson, who favoured separation of church and state, while introducing a new focus on the ''significant contributions'' of pro-slavery Confederate leaders during the civil war. Study of Sir Isaac Newton is dropped in favour of examining scientific advances through military technology.

The education board has dropped references to the slave trade in favour of calling it the ''Atlantic triangular trade'', and recasts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as driven by Islamic fundamentalism."

They're very savage 'corrections'.  Dilution and rewriting of history, selective quoting and paraphrasing of historical events, non-separation of church and state, and a belief in the US as the worlds moral flagship are all on the cards.  There are glaringly obvious things there that are seemingly at odds with a christian viewpoint of morals and ethics, even as I have been taught and shown to understand them.  Can someone explain how slavery was a positive act of history?

And of course, underlying all this is the Intelligent Design or Creationism argument that is ever so popular among the US christian movements.  While many are happy to tout the line "teach ID and evolutionary science side by side", the reality seems to be "teach ID, mention evolution as an that order".

I often wonder whether fundamentalists would get voted in if everyone was obliged to vote on matters such as this.  It possibly reflects a lack of care, or more likely an over-zealousness on the part of the religious elements, that this is even happening in the first place.
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