The Texas Madrasa
One of the most hotly contested issues of the US Civil War was States Rights versus Federal government control. The rationale that local areas know their particular needs better than an overarching government has some merit. But the perils outweigh benefits when states control vital human services such as welfare, health care and education. Just imagine -- if the southern states had their way, slavery might still be the economic engine driving their gravy train. Often, local thinking yields to a global shrinking of the common good, as it encourages a form of tribalism that shuns "the other."
Texas provides us with a stunning example of why education should not be a state mandated function. In the oxymoron of the century, their ruling body calls themselves The Citizens for a Smart Board of Education. The president of that body, recently retired but with high hopes for future control, remains steadfast in his belief that the earth is 6,000 years old and that dinosaurs walked hand in hand with all of earth's animals as well as humans who look just like us today. He demonstrated how all of the above fit onto Noah's arc by taking a classroom of 4th graders onto the football field and marking off one quarter of the area, pointing out that there was plenty of room for all of God's creatures plus dinosaurs. He even built a three tiered model of the arc for classroom demonstration, eagerly showing the tykes how Noah devised a sewer system to dispose of animal poop.
That a school principle allowed this wanger into a classroom to "teach" is a crime against children. Worse yet, the wanger presided over the State Board of Education, a state body whose members decided what content would go into their textbooks. As Texas and California buy the most text books, the dictates of these states determine which booksellers will get the windfall sales -- providing they march to the beat of the Boards of Education. If not, hasta la vista baby.
As money drives the American zeitgeist, publishers fall lockstep into the creation of revisionist texts so that the Lone Star state will buy buy buy. (A different version of the text minus the Texan POV will get the windfall from California, thank the All-That-Is.)
The Texas board used its strong arm to have books changed in two major areas: science and history. Yes, creationism is now officially offered as an alternative in state sponsored books. And the history of institutionalized racial discrimination has been abolished, literally wiped off the face of the earth through slanted books that are the only ones Texan children will read. As one Board member remarked distastefully, "Who wants to read about discrimination?"
The next review of text book content will come in 2020! An entire generation of little wranglers will grow up with misinformation and ignorance of the world in which they live, putting them at a decided disadvantage when they hit adulthood. Abraham Lincoln said that the classrooms of the young would yield the leaders of tomorrow. Remember, it produced the likes of the George Bush Jr. so voters, beware.