Puritans and the Texas State Board of Education

by Lana Lynne on 5.30.2010

A week ago, the Texas State Board of Education passed their revised curriculum -- and with it comes a new version of U.S. history. Granted, we all know the history we learn in school is from the perspective of the 'winners.' So perhaps the new whitewashed narrative the Board has chosen is so appalling simply because we have actually witnessed its germination.

A few of the changes were outlined by Devona Walker in "Texas textbook tragedy: Whitewash of American history":
In Texas schools, the Slave Trade is officially no more, it’s the Atlantic triangular trade. Country music is an important modern cultural movement; hip-hop isn't. Thomas Jefferson deserves to be erased from a list of "great Americans." But we apparently need additional chapters on Ronald Reagan.
On Sen. Joe McCarthy, well apparently we’ve all got it wrong. He was not a communism-obsessed loon but an American hero. President Obama, though they didn’t entirely erase him out of existence, they did intentionally insert his middle name. He’s now Barack Hussein Obama. Apparently Republican former House speaker Newt Gingrich deserves studying and the National Rifle Association deserves praise for upholding the U.S. Constitution. And Jefferson Davis, the slave-owning president of the Confederacy, should be taught alongside Abraham Lincoln -- who effectively ended slavery.
In addition to the tragic omissions in this curriculum, the Board has also reinforced the same old anti-intellectual, anti-learning message that already pervades classrooms. The whole debacle calls to mind a passage in Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates, in which she chronicles the evolution of American Protestantism:
Protestantism's evolution away from hierarchy and authority has enormous consequences for America and the world. On the one hand, the democratization of religion runs parallel to political democratization. The king of England, questioning the pope, inspires English subjects to question the king and his Anglican bishops. Such dissent is backed up by a Bible full of handy Scripture arguing for arguing with one's king. This is the root of self-government in the English-speaking world. On the other hand, Protestantism's shedding away of authority...inspires self-reliance -- along with a dangerous disregard for expertise. So the impulse that leads to democracy can also be the downside of democracy -- namely, a suspicion of people who know what they are talking about.
So, three centuries later, if we had any concern that we would have shed these fears of intellectualism/learning/individuality, the Texas State Board of Education just laid them to rest.
Print Friendly and PDF


  1. This is appalling. I know that text book companies cater to the states they are creating for but I never thought that the board would be able to tell the text book writers how to rewrite history (even worse than from the "winner's" perspective.

  2. Anonymous3:44 PM

    This does not bode well - I can only imagine what Arizona might do for instance, if this becomes standard practice from state to state.

  3. Anonymous4:10 PM

    Well, that's the thing: because Texas is the largest text book purchaser in the U.S., their purchasing power influences text book content throughout the country.


Having trouble leaving a comment? Some browsers require acceptance of 3rd party cookies. If you leave an anonymous comment, it may need to be approved.