Sunday, October 17, 2021

Education in Texas

 One of the people I follow on Facebook is Heather Cox Richardson, a political historian who writes interesting posts about current events.  She wrote one yesterday (10-16-21) on a new Texas law which requires teachers to "present opposing views on controversial subjects." Like racism. And the Holocaust. That's right, Texas teachers may be expected to present "both sides" of the Holocaust. I didn't think the Holocaust had another side, unless you are a Nazi who believes in Aryan superiority - aka white superiority.

Worse, Texas has passed a bill on Critical Race Theory (S.B. 3), which will go into effect in December, laying out exactly what should be taught about what we used to call civics: "the fundamental moral, political, and intellectual foundations of the American experiment in self-government; the history, qualities, traditions, and features of civic engagement in the United States; the structure, function, and processes of government institutions at the federal, state, and local levels.” This new law essentially limits the study of these things to certain specific documents and people.

I don't want to quote her entire essay, it's quite long, but if you are on Facebook, look it up. We should all read it.

What blew me away were the items and people who may not be taught: the writings of George Washington! Anything about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings! The history of Native Americans and of "founding mothers and other founding persons!" Frederick Douglass! I could go on. It essentially restricts the history of the U.S. and its government to the brilliant deeds of a few white men, leaving out anything that might make white men look bad. Like systemic racism, and genocide of Native Americans, and the fact that until the 20th century, married women were essentially their husbands' property.

I stewed about this all morning - really. History is important to me. If we don't know how we got here, how do we know where we're going? And facts are important to me - if you don't know all the facts, you make wrong decisions. But as I stewed, something occurred to me.

These legislators have forgotten the Internet. (Based on observation of various elected bodies, many of the people elected barely know how to send email.) Many of the kids whose education they want to warp have access to the Internet, and know how to use Google, especially after the last year and a half of virtual learning. If you know how to ask the questions, the Internet will tell you anything you want to know, whether the State of Texas likes it or not. I encourage myself that at least some Texas kids may start wondering about what was left out, and asking the questions.