LatinaLista -- Democracy is a dying U.S. ideal -- thanks to the Texas State Board of Education (TSBE).
In a vote of 10-5, the board, dominated by social conservatives, preliminarily adopted a new Social Studies and history curriculum that includes replacing the word "democratic" in referring to the form of U.S. government and opting instead to call it a "constitutional republic."
Diana Gomez, left, and Garrett Mize, along with other University of Texas students, rally before a State Board of Education meeting in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday, March 10, 2010. A group of 40 students marched to the public hearing to ask "the far-right, conservative faction of the state board to not inject their political agenda into the social studies and history curriculum." (Associated Press)
In fact, these newly adopted standards exemplify everything bad when one faction calls the shots. Information, in this case curriculum, becomes one-sided, tainted, warped and inaccurate -- a sad predictor of the quality of knowledge of students who will be graduating from Texas and other state public schools in the future.
Thanks to the TSBE, students all across the nation -- unless individual states and school districts speak up and demand that textbook companies understand that the TSBE speaks only for a narrow group of narrow-minded individuals intent on rewriting history their way and alternative textbooks must be made available -- will learn, or more accurately unlearn, what has served as the traditional foundation of every American student's schooling.
Rejected an attempt to ensure that children learn why the U.S. was founded on the principle of religious freedom.
Made sure that when children learn about the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment of the right to bear arms is emphasized in a chapter about citizenship in U.S. government classes.
However, the most offensive actions taken by the social conservatives on the TSBE don't just threaten to rewrite history but reverse years of progress minority communities have made in getting their histories included in school curriculums, a.k.a. the public discourse.
According to an Associated Press article:
Conservatives beat back multiple attempts to include hip-hop as an example of a significant cultural movement that already includes country music.
Numerous attempts to add the names or references to important Hispanics throughout history also were denied, inducing one amendment that would specify that Tejanos died at the Alamo alongside Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie.
The board approved an amendment that deletes a requirement that sociology students "explain how institutional racism is evident in American society."
In a state where the District Attorney of Dallas, in reviewing past convictions of minority inmates, has been able to exonerate and gain the release of numerous wrongfully imprisoned because of a notoriously prejudicial system against people of color, the idea that students should not know how to analyze a situation to determine if an outcome is based on institutionalized racism or not is pathetically ignorant.
The idea that a handful or less of Hispanic historic figures is sufficient in school curriculums in a country where the Hispanic population will be the majority underscores the blatant racism exercised by this panel -- without fear.
To allow these standards to stand as they do not only diminishes the quality of the education but purposely belittles the contributions and presence of communities of color and their roles in history and today.
To basically write out the Hispanic presence or the significance of black influence on popular music can be viewed as nothing less than an act of aggression by a few who happen to be protected by their positions of authority.
It is an abuse of their position and every person who wants the children of this country's future to receive a balanced view of this nation's past and present should fight these decisions and force the group to start over.
A final vote on these curriculum standards will be taken in May.