Biblical values and Confederates promoted in Texas textbook revisions

American students will learn more about the virtues of free enterprise, Biblical values and the Confederacy’s cause, and less about slavery and civil rights in a controversial new curriculum being pushed through by the Texas school board.
By Tom Leonard in New York
21 May 2010

Members of the state’s board of education put the finishing touches on Friday to a new history and social studies curriculum for the state’s 4.8 million state school students.

The proposed programme, which will affect other parts of the US due to Texas’s large share of the school textbook market, has prompted months of fierce argument and protests outside the board’s headquarters in Austin.
Conservatives, who constitute a two-thirds majority on the 15-strong board, which is composed of non-education specialists, say the new curriculum will be more positive about America, particularly the South, and its history.

Once every 10 years, the board edits hundreds of pages of educational guidelines known as the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.

Conservative members claim that a liberal bias had crept into the curriculum under previous Democrat-controlled boards.

Yesterday, the board approved a proposal to make students consider the political views of Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president, alongside those of Abraham Lincoln. Board members said it should be made clear the American Civil War was fought principally over states’ rights rather than slavery – though the group did drop a plan to refer to the slave trade as the "Atlantic triangular trade".

Other changes water down criticism of Senator Joe McCarthy’s anti-communist witchhunt in the 1950s and portray the UN’s funding for international humanitarian relief and environmental initiatives as threats to individual freedom and US sovereignty.

Students will be required to study conservative organisations and movements such as the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.

Ronald Reagan has been added to a list of "great Americans", while country music, but not hip hop, can be described as an important cultural movement.

The board’s five Democrats put up little resistance to the changes before a main vote on Thursday night but drew the line at a Republican call for President Barack Obama to be included in the curriculum using his controversial second name of Hussein.

Last year, conservatives on the same board changed the science curriculum to downplay the teaching of evolution and the Big Bang theory of the creation of the Universe.

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2010

On The Web: