The so-called “expert” reviewers appointed by the Texas State Board of Education have turned over their written reviews of the first drafts of the new social studies curriculum standards. While we work through these reviews, let us know what you think about them, too. The reviews are here. The first drafts are here.
Among the things we have already noticed in the review from Peter Marshall, a right-wing evangelical minister from Massachusetts, are a variety of absurd suggestions and glaring historical inaccuracies:
- As you will recall, Marshall and David Barton have argued that the current social studies standards include too many minorities that, they say, really didn’t accomplish much. For example, they said Cesar Chavez was a poor role model for students who wasn’t historically significant. Marshall has now backed off his opposition to including Chavez. But who else does he suggest students should learn about? Pedro Flores, considered by many to be the first yo-yo maker in the United States. (Marshall inaccurately describes Flores as the “inventor of the yo-yo.”)
- Marshall sees no problem with requiring students to learn about “conservative organizations and individuals like Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly and the Moral Majority. In fact, he suggests adding James Dobson (of Focus on the Family), Rush Limbaugh and the National Rifle Association. Marshall also suggests “liberals organizations” like MoveOn.org, the Sierra Club and Planned Parenthood — “provided,” he writes, “the students are made aware of Planned Parenthood’s funding of abortion clinics.”
- Marshall keeps up his efforts to blacklist Anne Hutchison, calling her “a favorite of modern feminists” but “not sufficiently ‘significant.’” In fact, Hutchison was exiled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony because she believed women deserved more rights and that individuals had the right to interpret the Bible as they saw fit (something Puritan clergy didn’t like).
- He continues to insist that students learn religion was a leading influence in colonization and the desire for independence from Britain. We suppose that whole “taxation without representation” thing was just a passing fad, right?
- Marshall says U.S. conquests and annexations of large swaths of Mexico and Hawaii and our control over the Philippines, Puerto Rico and other territories represented “expansion,” not “imperialism.” “Imperialism,” he writes, is a “pejorative” term that better described what the Europeans did.
- He says the United States returned to Mexico “more than half” of the terrirory taken during the Mexican-American War, “drawing the border only where we had claimed it to be before the war — the Rio Grande River.” Actually, no. The United States annexed a huge swath of Mexican terrority from the Rio Grande to the Pacific Ocean. That area includes the entire southwestern United States today.
We should note, by the way, that the issue here isn’t whether American expansion was right or wrong. The issue is why someone who is wrong on basic historical facts is sitting on a panel of so-called “experts.”
We will post more about the other reviews as we work through them. But please post what you find as you read the reviews as well.