Conservative group says new Texas teaching standards distort history

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By Michael Barajas mbarajas@sacurrent.com While many on the left have bashed Texas’ new history standards, it appears even some conservatives think the State Board of Education has gone too far. In its new report analyzing history curriculum in public schools across the nation, D.C. -based conservative education think tank the Thomas B. Fordham Institute slammed Texas’ revised history standards, calling the changes politically motivated and evidence of the board’s “evangelical Christian-right agenda.” The board raised eyebrows among minority and civil rights group last year when its new Republican majority put a strong conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks in the state. Many of the board’s critics have called for it to trash the new standards and start over. The criticism from the Fordham Institute is one of the most prominent from the right taking aim at the new history standards in Texas schools. The Fordham Institute, which is funded by groups like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation, gave Texas’ curriculum a “D” rating, and said the new standards distort or suppress “less triumphal or more nuanced aspects of our past that the Board found politically unacceptable.” While the institute criticized what it calls typical “relativist and diversity-obsessed” educational doctrine of the left, the group – like many of the board’s harshest critics on the left – claimed the new Texas standards glaze over important pieces of America’s past, and that they leave students with a “confusing, unteachable hodgepodge, blending the worst of two educational dogmas.” For example, the standards all but ignore the history of slavery in America, and the topic of racial segregation only comes up when referencing the 1948 integration of the U.S. armed forces, the institute wrote. In addition, the standards downplay the mass internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII, and ignore the plight of Native Americans when discussing European colonization. The group also said the new standards prod students to condemn federal entitlement programs, including Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society”. The Fordham institute blasted the board for pushing students at a young age to blindly accept the superiority of the free-market capitalism, and also said, “Biblical influences on America’s founding are exaggerated, if not invented. The complicated but undeniable history of separation between church and state is flatly dismissed.”

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