The Texas State Board of Education has come under fire for revising its history and social studies standards to reflect more “conservative” political and religious views. The conservatives on the board (who are the majority) say they are just correcting a liberal bias in Texan curricula. The liberals say the revisions are distortions of reality.
The new Texan standards “now portray the United States as a country founded by men who were guided by religious principles and were not really keen on creating a secular state,” writes Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post. “Additionally,” she says, “they promote the benefits of low taxes, little regulation and free enterprise.” These are conservative views. Liberals would dispute these facts.
Texas is a very red state. So, how about Blue States? Do liberal states have liberal curricula? Even Blue States can have conservative curricula. Consider Oregon—a very blue state. Bill Bigelow, curriculum editor for Rethinking Schools magazine, says that his state of Oregon has standards that are “profoundly conservative—in big and little ways. There is no recognition of the social emergency that we confront: a deeply unequal and unsustainable world, hurtling toward an ecological crisis without parallel in human history. The standards portray U.S. society as fundamentally harmonious, with laws designed to promote fairness and progress. Today’s wars don’t exist. Nor does hunger or poverty.”
The two paragraphs above portray an image of America and an interpretation of facts. We can agree on the facts but disagree on their interpretation.
Which of the paragraphs better fits your understanding of American history?
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(Originally posted in www.OurValues.org)