What shall we do with Texas?

Private elementary and secondary schools and homeschooling should be outlawed. There I said it. They are a danger to democracy.

Unless you live in Texas.

I never thought I’d say this, but with the recent action of the Texas State Board of Education, maybe if you’re in the Republic of Texas you’d be better off not going to public school, where the curriculum is now suspect.

Conservative groups are to be highlighted and taught; liberal ones ignored. The “slave trade” becomes “Atlantic triangular trade.” The appalling list goes on.

Even some conservatives are appalled: “Every child in Texas deserves the right to have authentic history. … Not history that ought to promote somebody’s political ideology,” Rod Paige, a Republican and former superintendent of the Houston Independent School District who served as Education Secretary under President George W. Bush, told ABC News. “I’m not so naive that I don’t understand that the board’s political leanings will be a part of it but I just think that it swings the pendulum too far. Right now it’s moving too far to the right.” (As reported in The Christian Science Monitor.)

It would be funny if it weren’t tragic.

These are the same people who decry fundamentalist Muslim schools and criticize the old Soviet education system that everything good originated in Mother Russia.

But what they have done is no different.

There is much you could criticize in the Texas decision, but perhaps the most important is the move to undo more than 200 years of development of the doctrine of the separation of church and state.

“We need to have students compare and contrast this current view of separation of church and state with the actual language in the First Amendment,” said (Don) McLeroy, who like other social conservatives contends that separation of church and state was established in the law only by activist judges and not by the Constitution or Bill of Rights. (From The Dallas Morning News)

Perhaps these folks should be sent out of state to learn their history before they try to muck it up for the rest of us. Here’s a good recap of what the Founders really were after. The Texas decision, over time, could have a disastrous impact on our nation. I can foresee this leading us down a road where only Christians — and even then only ones with a particular, fundamental bent — are considered “real Americans.”

I’m glad I’m part of a denomination (Presbyterian Church, USA) which stands firmly behind separation. It’s embedded in the church’s constitution:

Therefore we consider the rights of private judgment, in all matters that respect religion, as universal and unalienable: We do not even wish to see any religious constitution aided by the civil power, further than may be necessary for protection and security, and at the same time, be equal and common to all others. (G-1.0301b, Book of Order)

About the only saving grace in all this is that technology has lessened somewhat the national impact the Texas decision can have. California has already taken steps to block the Texas disaster from crossing its borders.

We spent 8 1/2 years living in Dallas — we call it our wilderness experience — and both my children got a (mostly) strong, well-balanced education from the Richardson Independent School District, but even then the teachers were “teaching to the test.” The only thing that mattered were test scores. So as these changes adopted for the social studies curriculum wend their way into textbooks, and then tests, future graduates of that and other Texas school systems won’t be able to say the same thing.

If we were still there, perish the thought, we’d be forced to consider an alternative to the abomination that will be Texas public schools. And for this no-holds-barred supporter of public education, that is a very hard thing to say.

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3 Responses to What shall we do with Texas?

  1. JB says:

    Jack:

    By that logic, it would be acceptable for a state to establish a religion then. Or to have its own laws regarding damn near anything. Wait, maybe that’s what Arizona and Texas are up to.

    Does that mean we can do away with the “United” States? Let’s see, your soldiers in PA fight for the right to be Quakers, while my soldiers from Rhode Island fight for the right to be Baptists?

    And if you’re Muslim, well just get the hell out!

    Seems like we fought a war dealing with just how far states can go. John C. Calhoun and friends lost.

  2. Jack Sharpe says:

    JB

    If you knew the type of revisionist history that is in many of the public school curricula, at least here in Pennsylvania, you might be equally aghast? My wife, on the local school board, says that is why she wants local control. Things have gone to far, too long, to borrow the line of a local news columnist, Graham Messner.

    And by the way, the Bill of Rights, and particularly the First Amendment separation clause, was never intended to limit state’s rights to regulate religion. It was designed to prohibit only “Congress” from passing any law abridging free speech or establishing religion. Substantive due process after the passage of the 14th Amendment imported that rule to the states.

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