Nel's New Day

December 14, 2014

Schools, Textbooks Promote Religion, Ignorance

The Fox network thinks that civics education in the United States is so important that high school students should be forced to pass the citizenship test for immigrants before they graduate. Brian Kilmeade, Fox and Friends, is distressed that some people don’t know who fought in the Civil War. He’s right, according to a survey at Texas Tech, with over 84 percent of its students coming from the school’s home state.

Recently, the media has explored what Texas schools teach—and what they want to teach. The state board of education just finished the excruciating task of deciding on the content of textbooks and curriculum with a heavy dose of wishful religious instruction. The end result is approval of 89 textbooks for the state’s more than 5 million children.

The Texas textbooks that board members choose have a big impact on the rest of the nation. Publishers don’t want to create one set of textbooks for Texas and one for the real world; therefore, the other 49 states suffer from one state’s bad decision. Once textbooks are purchased, they are kept for many years because of poor school funding.

Critics say the approved social studies and history textbooks in Texas overemphasize the role that Christianity and biblical figures while ignoring constitutional provisions against the state establishing religion. World geography textbooks downplay the role that armed conquest played in the spread of Christianity and misrepresent fundamental points of other major religions.

Battles over textbook content in Texas included climate change, the role of slavery in the Civil War, Islam, and biblical influence in America’s founding. Climate denial and “offensive cartoons comparing beneficiaries of affirmative action to space aliens” were taken out of the proposed textbooks, but references to Moses as an influence on the Constitution and the Old Testament as the root of democracy stayed in. Out is negative stereotyping of Muslims; in is greater clarity that slavery caused the Civil War. So far, so good except for Moses writing the U.S. Constitution.

Truth in Texas Textbooks Coalition also lost a reduced coverage of civil rights promoting “racial politics” (according to the group) and the push to include information about Young Earth Creationism. The board kept the coalition’s desire to include the falsehood that the Old Testament provided the “roots of democracy.”

The above information may not be entirely accurate: changes were made so close to the board meeting that the members who voted textbooks in or out probably don’t know their content. The textbooks may be more accurate than Fox or the coalition wants, but Texas does not require schools to use textbooks. Some publicly funded charter schools are teaching the following misinformation.

  • Evolution is “dogma” and an “unproved theory” with no experimental basis; leading scientists dispute the mechanisms of evolution and the age of the Earth.
  • There is “uncertainty” in the fossil record because of the “lack of a single source for all the rock layers.”
  • Because the Loch Ness is real, it disproves evolution.
  • The samurai led Japan’s military aggression in World War II. [The samurai class was abolished in 1876 after the Meiji Restoration; there were no samurai after World War I.]
  • The Philippines is composed of “Catholics, Moslems [sic], and pagans in various stages of civilization.”
  • Feminism forced women to turn to the government as a “surrogate husband.”
  • “In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.”
  • The West in the 1400s and 1500s was “quantum leaps” ahead of “native peoples,” including Ming Dynasty China.
  • The West was superior to “native populations” in battles because “Aztec chiefs and Moor sultans alike were completely vulnerable to massed firepower, yet without the legal framework of republicanism and civic virtue like Europe’s to replace its leadership cadre.
  • The monarchy of 16th-century Spain was a form of republican government that was superior to anything that “native peoples” had created.
  • The Iraq War was the “pinnacle” of the “western way of war.”
  • Secretary of State John Kerry’s receiving the Purple Heart and Bronze Star was “suspect at best.”
  • “Anti-Christian bias” coming out of the Enlightenment was a cause of World War I.
  • President George W. Bush banned stem-cell research because it was done “primarily with the cells from aborted babies.” [The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine pointed out that this is impossible.]
  • “The New Deal had not helped the economy. However, it ushered in a new era of dependency on the Federal government.”
  • President Jimmy Carter pardoned Vietnam War draft dodgers out of “a misguided sense of compassion.”
  • And my favorite: A person’s values are based on solely his or her religious beliefs.

Some of the training for teachers in these schools comes from the Traditional Values Coalition that has the header, “Say NO to Obama. Stop Sharia in America.” The Responsive Educations Solutions charter system operates over 65 campuses with over 17,000 in Texas, Arkansas, and Indiana. The system receives $82 million in taxpayer money every year.

The newly elected lieutenant governor of Texas is a creationist who wants to pass a law allowing Christianity to be taught in public schools. He said, “We need to stand for what this nation was founded upon, which is the word of God.”

Students following this curriculum might not only fail Fox networks’s test but also fail to even read the tests. A report from the Stanford Center for Research on Education Outcomes stated that the curriculum in these “had a significant negative impact on student reading gains and a non-significant effect in math.”

Fox’s Steve Doocy wants all people to take the same citizenship test before they vote. (He evidently hasn’t read the U.S. Constitution lately.) There was only one reason that the country has ever required passing a test to vote: to eliminate blacks from voting in the South. Recently, a group of Harvard students took the literacy test required by Louisiana in 1964. They all failed.

If Fox wants anyone tested in the United States, they need to start telling the truth and requiring all schools in the United States to teach it.

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