FOX Gets It Wrong on Texas Curriculum Battle

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Efforts to politicize our kids’ social studies classrooms got a hand from FOX News on Wednesday.

FOX aired a piece on the growing controversy over revising social studies curriculum standards in Texas. Publishers, of course, will use the revised standards to write new history, government, geography and other social studies textbooks. The two commentators on FOX accurately discussed the huge influence of Texas on the national textbook market — but then things went downhill fast.

First, FOX host Steve Doocy described the panel of so-called “experts” helping guide the revision of the social studies curriculum standards as split between three conservatives and three liberals. Actually, the three academics from Texas on that panel haven’t discussed their political beliefs. We frankly don’t know whether they’re liberals or conservatives, and it’s doubtful Mr. Doocy knows either. In fact, Gov. Rick Perry chose one — Jesús Francisco de la Teja from Texas State University — to serve as the state historian of Texas for two years until this past May. Of course, that appointment doesn’t suggest de la Teja is either conservative or liberal. But it does suggest that a conservative governor was impressed enough with his academic credentials to name him to that post.

On the other hand, the “experts” appointed by the State Board of Education’s far-right bloc can’t seem to stop talking about their political beliefs. In reality, the split on the panel is between three mainstream academics and three ideologues. And two of the latter are absurdly unqualified to be considered “experts.” In fact, neither has an advanced degree in the social sciences. The “qualifications” they brought to the panel were their political beliefs, not their pitiful academic credentials. How about discussing whether it’s appropriate to have unqualified people with a political agenda guiding a curriculum revision? No, we guess that wouldn’t work well for FOX’s audience.

Next, conservative commentator Tucker Carlson trotted out complete nonsense about how history textbooks typically treat Christianity:

“Christianity is downplayed as a progressive force, almost always painted in a negative light, other world’s religions elevated to a higher place than Christianity.”

Does he honestly think school districts in Texas would adopt textbooks that portray Christianity negatively? Really? Anybody with an ounce of sense knows that would be political suicide, especially in Texas. Carlson was simply playing to the sense of victimization cultivated by far-right evangelicals who think everybody but them is a radical leftist who hates Christians.

Then Carlson claimed that textbooks fail to tell students what religion was practiced by the hijackers in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Oh, come on. He can’t be serious, but he tries to sound like it:

“It’s not explained why they did this. It’s not explained that they were radical Islamic fundamentalists. They just kind of somehow flew into these buildings. This is one of the blatant errors in fact that this debate may solve.”

Carlson is simply making things up. But he goes on to charge that “liberals” in the Texas textbook debate want to see less emphasis on the Cold War. What a pile of horse manure. We have seen no such proposal from anyone, liberal or otherwise.

Then this from Carlson:

“Conservatives in this debate would like to see greater reliance on primary texts.”

Well, who doesn’t think that primary documents are important to understanding history? Anybody?

Doocy, the show’s host, noted that Carlson is preparing a longer “documentary” on the “trouble with textbooks” in America today. If Wednesday’s show was any indication, that piece certainly won’t be a documentary. It will be a propaganda tool designed to support extremists who want to dumb down and politicize our kids’ classrooms.

You can watch the FOX segment on textbooks here.

12 Responses to “FOX Gets It Wrong on Texas Curriculum Battle”

  1. Doc Bill Says:

    It’s ironic that Fox News has become the comedy channel and the Comedy Channel has become the trusted source for news!

  2. Jacob Wiseman Says:

    Frustrating how completely clueless Carlson is. It’s like reporting facts doesn’t even matter.

  3. Charles Says:

    It depends on whether your goal is to be an authentic journalist or simply be a person who gets paid a lot. Oddly, if you will recall, when he was still on CNN, Tucker Carlson was the broadcast journalist who broke and for a while kept alive the story about Karl Rove and other conservative Republican politicians who made fun of the Religious Right among themselves in private—like most everyone else does. I just wonder when the Religious Right is going to wake up to the fact that the politicians they support think they are nuts too.

  4. PHarvey Says:

    Charles said
    “I just wonder when the Religious Right is going to wake up to the fact that the politicians they support think they are nuts too.”

    They will do it as long as the politicians allow the Religious Right to intimidate and push them around.

  5. Joe Lapp Says:

    Sorry TFN. This stuff stresses me out like reading about murders and child molestation in the papers. I’m going to have to back off monitoring the blog and receiving the regular updates. I’ll still contribute as I can. Without you, I doubt I could live in Texas. I’d soon be jailed for not being a conservative protestant creationist, or for not raising my children that way. Thanks for keeping hate and intolerance at bay.

  6. George Says:

    It is amusing that they just assume anyone not endorsed by the far right SBOE members is a liberal. I believe Jim Kracht was selected by Pat Hardy and she is hardly liberal, as she herself will tell you.

  7. Charles Says:

    Get a load of this. The Religious Right says there is no such thing as separation of church and state in the U.S. constitution—until a situation that THREATENS THEM arises. Then it’s just fine—necessary even—couldn’t live without it. Please note blog story about the gay church list and Connecticut state government:

    http://mainstreambaptist.blogspot.com/

  8. Grandma Ginnie Says:

    This rhetoric isn’t necessarily such a bad thing. By complaining that they’re not getting what they in fact have been getting, the religious right is putting itself in a poor negotiating position. What the progressives need to do is offer them what they’re already giving them (or slightly less, leaving room for future negotiations), including Tucker Carlson’s portrayal of Christianity in a positive light and characterizing the 9/11 hijackers as Muslim extremists. “If we give you these things, will it satisfy you?” Since it’s already being done, the “concession” is in reality no victory for the right-wing ideologues at all–but they think it is, and so slink off, smug with satisfaction with their “victory”. Let ’em think they’ve won. It’s a much better state of affairs than a protracted ‘war’.

  9. PHarvey Says:

    Unfortunately, they aren’t rational and don’t think like that. They want to implement their entire agenda.

    If you give them anything as a “compromise”, they won’t stop there. They will turn around and come right back whining for everything else.

  10. Rael Nidess, M.D. Says:

    You missed Tucker’s point about ‘primary texts’…

    He wasn’t talking about history books, he was talking about the bible…

  11. Cytocop Says:

    Tucker Carlson needs to read history. For most of its history, Christianity was NOT a progressive force. It gloried in conquest, exploitation…

    Oh er, maybe Carlson misses the good ole days of Crusades, Inquisitions, pogroms, persecutions, forced conversions, expulsions…. Man, those were the days….

    I guess Mr. Carlson considers those activities progressive.

  12. Chris Wyllie Says:

    Ben Franklin, At one point, he wrote to Thomas Paine, criticizing his manuscript, The Age of Reason:

    For without the Belief of a Providence that takes Cognizance of, guards and guides and may favour particular Persons, there is no Motive to Worship a Deity, to fear its Displeasure, or to pray for its Protection….think how great a Proportion of Mankind consists of weak and ignorant Men and Women, and of inexperienc’d and inconsiderate Youth of both Sexes, who have need of the Motives of Religion to restrain them from Vice, to support their Virtue, and retain them in the Practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great Point for its Security; And perhaps you are indebted to her originally that is to your Religious Education, for the Habits of Virtue upon which you now justly value yourself. If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it.

    To this day, we all fall silently humble the reality of this insite. These truths are at no greater time in the history of our nation, and as a people and society, more self-evident. From Europe we came, and if left without constant self evaluation, to her old errors and mistakes we shall return. The very people from whom we got our beginnings, were men of religious tolerence. But, let us not take the religious tolerences given by there efforts, and omit or deny the toleration in teaching there own personnal beliefs and create non-purpetuating citizens of the “me” generation. Progression losses it relavance, once it’s followers lose there ablity to progress, as a self-sustaining society.

    You keep your mainstream, I’m happy drowning in “backwaters of truths” history has set before us all.

    Noah Webster, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noah_Webster ” Need I say More” O.K. I Will, Dare Read ON!

    Thomas Jefferson, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_jefferson

    These people had the discipline

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