March 12, 2010

Texas Social Studies Curriculum Vote Brings Out Worst in AP Bias, Labeling

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April Castro and the headline writers at the supposedly “objective” Associated Press are obviously not pleased with changes the Texas State Board of Education made to the Lone Star State’s social studies curriculum.

Castro’s report (HT to a NewsBusters e-mailer) makes almost no attempt to hide her clear disdain. She includes references to a “far-right faction” (a “faction” that happened to constitute a two-thirds majority!) and “ultraconservatives,” while uniformly describing leftists as mere Democrats, and generally comes across as a sore loser in solidarity with the poor, outvoted libs.

You’ll also see in the excerpt that follows that the story’s headline is disgracefully over the top:

Texas ed board vote reflects far-right influences

AUSTIN, Texas — A far-right faction of the Texas State Board of Education succeeded Friday in injecting conservative ideals into social studies, history and economics lessons that will be taught to millions of students for the next decade.

Teachers in Texas will be required to cover the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation’s Founding Fathers, but not highlight the philosophical rationale for the separation of church and state. Curriculum standards also will describe the U.S. government as a “constitutional republic,” rather than “democratic,” and students will be required to study the decline in value of the U.S. dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard.

“We have been about conservatism versus liberalism,” said Democrat Mavis Knight of Dallas, explaining her vote against the standards. “We have manipulated strands to insert what we want it to be in the document, regardless as to whether or not it’s appropriate.”

…. Ultraconservatives wielded their power over hundreds of subjects this week, introducing and rejecting amendments on everything from the civil rights movement to global politics. Hostilities flared and prompted a walkout Thursday by one of the board’s most prominent Democrats, Mary Helen Berlanga of Corpus Christi, who accused her colleagues of “whitewashing” curriculum standards.

By late Thursday night, three other Democrats seemed to sense their futility and left, leaving Republicans to easily push through amendments heralding “American exceptionalism” and the U.S. free enterprise system, suggesting it thrives best absent excessive government intervention.

Castro should have been asking why the items described in the excerpt, plus the following cited by the AP writer in unexcerpted paragraphs, haven’t been in the social studies curriculum all along:

  • “… the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its impact on global politics.”
  • former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir.
  • “a reference to the Second Amendment right to bear arms in a section about citizenship in a U.S. government class.”

Apparently the ultimate insult occurred when “Conservatives beat back multiple attempts to include hip-hop as an example of a significant cultural movement.”

Oh the humanity.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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6 Comments

  1. Oh, there is some extremism going on here, if you will, going on here, but it’s not far right. Castros (appropriate last name) idea of what constitutes “far right” exposes her as the the real extremist and that is of the far left variety.

    And, by the way, walking out on a meeting like that simply because they were on the losing end of a debate is an inexcusable action on those Democrats part.

    Comment by zf — March 12, 2010 @ 11:39 pm

  2. This NYT article (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13texas.html) tries to make the case that the TX Board included ideological extremism, but it only makes one gasp at what wasn’t being taught before, for example:

    “…’the unintended consequences’ of the Great Society legislation, affirmative action and Title IX legislation.”

    “…that the history of McCarthyism include ‘how the later release of the Venona papers confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government.’ The Venona papers were transcripts of some 3,000 communications between the Soviet Union and its agents in the United States.”

    “…the revisions add Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek, two champions of free-market economic theory, among the usual list of economists to be studied, like Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes.”

    Leaving them out is the extremist position!

    Comment by Joe C. — March 13, 2010 @ 11:01 am

  3. #2, saw the NYT piece, which is indeed in many ways worse, though it seemed a little lighter on the “scare” labeling.

    The previous exclusion of Frieman and Hayek is indeed scandalous.

    Comment by TBlumer — March 13, 2010 @ 11:28 am

  4. Hm, let’s see. We *are* a constitutional republic, the dollar value *did* decline and we *did* abandon the gold standard. So, teaching the truth is somehow ultraconservative “whitewash”? Oy!

    Comment by Becbeq — March 13, 2010 @ 6:34 pm

  5. [...] echo chamber howling over this bogus report of right-wing “bias,” for example: here, here, here, and [...]

    Pingback by wingnuts cry “bias” on AP report (with audio and video) « Tony's curricublog — March 13, 2010 @ 10:00 pm

  6. We can add #5 to the sore losers file.

    Comment by TBlumer — March 13, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

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