Gail Lowe, Politics and Social Studies

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It didn’t take long. Gail Lowe is already showing why the Texas Freedom Network is concerned about Gov. Rick Perry’s appointment of her as chair of the Texas State Board of Education.

Lowe appointed David Barton — head of WallBuilders, a far-right organization that opposes separation of church and state — to a panel of s0-called “experts” helping guide the revision of social studies curriculum standards. Barton has already joined with a fellow “expert” on the panel, far-right evangelical minister Peter Marshall, in calling for the removal of progressive historical figures like César Chavez and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall from the standards. (Never mind that Barton and Peter Marshall are absurdly unqualified to be considered social studies “experts.”)

In a story on Friday about her appointment as board chair, Lowe had this to say to a KERA radio reporter in Dallas about Chavez and Justice Marshall:

“Certainly those are historical figures that students should be aware of, and their goals and their place in history, but it needs to be in the context of what those people were known for. And so if the example is someone of good civic involvement, then there may be a different type of historical figure and leader that would be more appropriate.” (This is Lowe’s actual quote. The written version of the quote on the KERA Web page is incomplete.)

Now think about Lowe’s comment for a minute. She is suggesting that Chavez and Marshall are not appropriate examples of “good civic involvement”? Good grief. Chavez and Marshall built their careers on and are revered for working to tear down barriers to civic and democratic involvement by people who had long been shut out of the corridors of influence and power. We are not suggesting that they are the only appropriate examples of “good civic involvement.” But the two are surely among the most important modern historical examples.

Moreover, Barton and weren’t simply suggesting that Chavez and Marshall aren’t appropriate examples in the context of where they appeared in the standards. Recall what Marshall said about Chavez:

“Chavez is hardly the kind of role model that ought to be held up to our children as someone worthy of emulation.”

Marshall isn’t calling for Chavez to be put somewhere else. He’s calling for his removal, period. He and Barton simply don’t like the political views Chavez had or the work that he did.

This is just the first of what are likely to be many steps down a perilous path toward politicizing the social studies education of Texas schoolchildren. Lowe knows that. In fact, she is helping facilitate it. And her appointment as chair is very troubling.

7 Responses to “Gail Lowe, Politics and Social Studies”

  1. Coragyps Says:

    I’m not so certain it’s really even about Chavez’s or T. Marshall’s political views. Deny it they will, but I strongly suspect that the main fundy/rightwing objection to these gentlemen is largely to do with the amount of melanin in their epidermis. Similar objections have been seen that seem to be rooted in the offending historical figure lacking Y chromosomes, too.

  2. Charles Says:

    Personally, during the coming great debate, I would like to see TFN work to ascertain the specific hidden reasons behind the rejection of one particular historical figure over another. This group has proven itself to be just klutzy enough that they will let their true—and very unspeakable in public—feelings about these figures shine through. And maybe—just maybe—if you are really lucky—someone in a nervous frenzy might actually blurt out “Spic wetback commie pinko fag” or some other such nonsense. If it ever happens, all of my atheist friends here will know that there really is a God.

  3. MissingReed Says:

    This is the same thing that happened to Emma Goldman and countless others.

  4. Charles Says:

    Oh. I don’t know. Emma sounds like something of an early 20th century leftist fruitcake to me—even if there were a few good things mixed in her efforts. If our side goes into this social studies debate with a long list of left wing radical anarchists like Emma Goldman, all we are going to do is prove that the other side is right. Sensibility and moderation in all things is the way to go. Like say, Sequoyah or Sacajewea? Please people. Show a little common sense.

  5. PHarvey Says:

    Oh come on, the extremeist Radical Religious right on the SBOE isn’t racist. Where did you get that idea? They are just anti-minority rights, anti-labor, anti-social programs, and anti-women’s rights.

    But Racist? No way!

    Where did you get that idea?

  6. joshquasimoto Says:

    How does Barton and Marshall define significant work in the area of civics? It would appear that both Thurgood Marshall and Cesar Chavez epitomize civic duty not on cultural ground but on humanitarian grounds. If America truly is what it has said it historically is, ‘ala-give us your tired, your poor, and your hungry” and “land of justice and equality for all’ then I feel it is necessarry to ask these two experts what qualifies as significant “civic”accomplishments?

  7. Charles Says:

    Joshquasmoto:

    Aw. That’s easy. They mean REALLY, REALLY, REALLY BIG AND IMPORTANT WHITE PEOPLE WHO ATTENDED CHURCH:

    Thomas Jefferson
    Thomas Edison
    Abraham Lincoln
    Albert Einstein
    Herbert Hoover (C’mon. We gotta have a few laughs)
    John Glenn

    And if they did not actually attend church regularly during their lives (Like Einstein), David Barton will rewrite American history to make it look like they did.

    See. Simple as pie.

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