Tea Partiers: ‘Take Back Our Schools!’


Next week’s public hearing on social studies curriculum standards in Austin could resemble last summer’s angry protests over health insurance reform. That’s because the anti-government Tea Party brigades are now turning their attention to curriculum matters at the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE).

The Austin Texas Tea Party Web site is screaming: “Take Back Our Schools and tell the SBOE America IS Exceptional!”

The so-called “American IS Exceptional” rally is set for noon to 2 p.m. on Wednesday (January 13) at the Texas Education Agency in Austin. The state board will be inside hearing public testimony on proposed new social studies curriculum standards for public schools.

Tea Party protests over the summer featured angry folks with signs comparing President Obama to Hitler, the Nazis and Marxists. They also accused health insurance reform supporters of trying to destroy the nation’s health care system and force patients to beg for their lives before official government “death panels.” And rowdy Tea Partiers proudly disrupted public meetings on health reform across the country.

Will we see the same wacky extremism next week in the debate over curriculum standards? The Austin Tea Party Web site sure seems dedicated to the same kind of hyperbolic nonsense we saw last summer:

“The Great State of Texas is preparing to teach 4.7 million students America is an Imperialistic Nation…with your help we can Take Back OUR Schools for OUR Children!”

First, there are no suggestions that social studies classes teach students that the United States is an imperialistic nation. (Curriculum writers did suggest that American expansionism overseas in the late 1800s and early 1900s was similar to European imperialism during the same era.) Second, what’s this “OUR schools” language all about? Do Tea Partiers think public schools belong just to them?

The list of speakers gives you another idea of the extremism that will be on stage during the “rally.” One speaker, for example, is Bill Ames — a member of a curriculum writing team who has complained about an “over-representation of minorities” in the standards. (See here and here for more about Ames.)

Sure enough, the Tea Party Web site suggests that groups like LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) are guilty of historical “revisionism” because they want the standards to reflect more accurately the contributions of Latinos in the history of Texas and the United States.

Another speaker: Brooke Terry, education analyst for the far-right Texas Public Policy Foundation. Last spring Terry helped the then-chair of the State Board of Education, Don McLeroy, ambush teachers on the curriculum writing teams by dishonestly accusing them of trying to write new social studies standards that leave out important historical figures and patriotic symbols and generally push a leftist bias.

The Tea Party Web site also suggests that curriculum writers are trying to promote homosexuality in social studies classrooms. That’s standard religious-right extremism. But we did love this line from the Tea Party Web site:

“Beware signs may not be allowed in the building…but they will look great along the exterior in all the photos taken by TFN!”

We’re flattered that the Tea Partiers are turning out for our benefit.


12 Responses to “Tea Partiers: ‘Take Back Our Schools!’”

  1. Gordon Fowkes Says:

    The concept of taking something back or restoring something requires some proof of original ownership, possesion, control, and/or previous halcyon status. To reverse engineer that status, one would find a madrassa of sorts excluding the various ethnic and politically based schools maintained by the faithful/less prior to WW2.

  2. Coragyps Says:

    I love how the Mexican War and Spanish-American War weren’t even tainted in the least by that nassy ol’ imperialism in the minds of these goobers. Teabaggers are the “Know-Nothings” of the 1840’s all over again – and I don’t think they even updated anything in the playbook. (Except maybe they allow Irishmen in their ranks now.)

  3. Jack Crook Says:

    As a recently retired public school social studies educator, we can now see why Texas’s education is lagging the rest of the country and why we seem to be the laughing stock of most professional social study organizations.

  4. Charles Says:

    I think what they want is a return to teaching social studies in the same way it was taught to me back in the 1950s. George Washington and the other founding fathers were presented to me as being God-like and having God-like powers. For example, as just a boy, George Washington had the power to throw a silver dollar across the Potomac River, quite a feat considering that there was no such thing as a silver dollar when Washington was a boy and the fact that the river downstream is so wide a major league pitcher could not do it. We were also told that George Washington was “incapable” of telling a lie about chopping down a cherry tree, as pointed out by Hal Holbrooke in his “Mark Twain Tonight” presentations.

    In those old classes of mine, the United States was presented to us kids as a new nation made up primarily of politically repentant Englishmen, which was reinforced by our southern raising where the names of all around us were Jones, Smith, Brown, Robertson, McKinsey, Ferrell, etc. In the early grades, to the best of my recollection, black people and immigrants were never really mentioned. We had no immigrants to speak of in our town. We had no blacks in our all-white southern schools. We saw black people around town, but it was not too clear why they were there or where they had come from—Mars would have been as good a guess as any to us kids—and no one in school was rushing to tell us the real story of how they got there. We heard rumors that they attended schools of their own in another part of our town. Everyone in town called that part of town—well—I had better not say to avoid getting kicked off another blogspot. However, one thing was quite clear, if we got around one of these strange, dark-skinned people or touched anything they had touched, we had to go wash our hands immediately. All of this ritualism was very mysterious to us kids.

    Maybe—just maybe—by my senior year in high school, the founding fathers were beginning to be presented to us as real human beings rather than God-like entities. We know all human beings have their faults, but none of the faults of the founding fathers were ever mentioned—and I was a history buff in school. Only in my college days did I finally learn that Benjamin Franklin was not only a father of my nation but also the biological father of France. Finally, the founding fathers were presented as real human beings, whole human beings, with both superlatives and human frailties. We finally discovered that George Washington trotted down to the outhouse several times a day like everyone else, making him something far less than a God.

    I suppose portraying American historical figures as real human beings, warts and all rather than as gods, would be defined by right wing fruitcakes as a tragic step towards liberalism in social studies teaching—an evil step that should never have been taken and one that places our nation in peril. After all, an 18-year-old who charges the hill in battle needs to feel that he is fighting for flawless men who had flawless ideas and flawless personal behavior. Isn’t that the Biblical way? Isn’t that the Godly way?

    Frankly, no. It is not!!! Far from it!!! If the right wingers and their Religious Right toadies would ever bother to read those Bibles of theirs, they would note that the word of God (which is also the history of the Jewish people written by the Jewish people and for the Jewish people) lays out in utmost detail the faithful ways of the Jewish people and the unfaithful ways of the Jewish people in ancient times. We see their successes and their failures. We see how they served God and how they failed him. We learn that King David was a man after God’s own heart, and we also learn that David was a fornicator and adulterer who arranged for the death of the ancient Israeli soldier Uriah so he could have the dead man’s wife all to himself emotionally and sexually. God also presents information on minority groups and specific members of those groups, like the Ethiopian traveler who wanted to know more about Jesus of Nazareth.

    You see. When God writes a history book, he chooses to be honest about human nature, showing both the good side and the evil side of historical figures. He hides nothing from the children who read it. He does not suggest that doing so undermines a nation, destroys its patriotism, or causes cowardice in battle. The right wingers on the SBOE and their supporters show God himself to be a so-called “social studies liberal,” when their beliefs and principles are applied to the historicity of the Bible. This alone should be enough to show any Christian just how flawed, bigoted, and totally unBiblical their thinking on social studies teaching really is. Any Christian in their right mind would flee from this utter nonsense of theirs that has allowed secular, right-wing political beliefs to triumph over the Bible and basic common sense with regard to the Texas social studies curriculum.

  5. Edra Bogle Says:

    I wonder how many children of these Tea Baggers actually attend what they call “our” schools, and how many are home-schooled or attend private or charter schools and will never be exposed to the curricula and textbooks the Tea Baggers are trying to get adopted.

    The public school system once was a force for equality where children could become acquainted with others of different backgrounds, and from which all graduates emerged with somewhat similar educational backgrounds. Now it is becoming more and more a system only for minority children, the accomplishments of their ancestors ironically being ignored or minimized in favor of imaginary images of the supposedly perfect white “fathers of our country.”

    In Denton we had a “Party for the Poor” Wednesday night, where families were fed and given their choice of numerous gifts–clothes, cleaning supplies, toys, children’s books in both English and Spanish, household items of many sorts. The least popular items were the books. The many minority children there–and their parents–seemed to have already become convinced that nothing they would read would reflect their history or have any relevance to their lives.

  6. Cytocop Says:

    Charles, your interpretation of Jewish scripture is very interesting. In fact, don’t be offended but it’s pretty much a Jewish interpretation of Torah!: No matter how imperfect and flawed we are, we can still have a close relationship with God which is quite different from Christianity.

    Actually, Uriah was a Hittite, not Israelite. But that’s splitting hairs, I know.

    I attended public grade school in Michigan during the ’50’s and ’60’s and received pretty much the same homogeneous picture of American history as you did, Charles. Just a few sentences and paragraphs were devoted to minorities. And, of course, the contributions of African-Americans to the U.S. were ignored or glossed-over at best. It wasn’t until I got to college that I began to receive a fuller, more balanced view of American history. I hope things have changed for the better for public school kids by now but, with the Teabaggers in charge, American history textbooks and classes will only revert back to how it was in the 50’s or get worse still.

    Yes, I agree the right-wing conservative fundies believe any portrayal of white America and American history as less than perfect is considered anti-American, anti-God, anti-Jesus, Marxist, Stalinist, socialist, communist, atheist, and just plain satanic. In a nutshell, that’s pretty much what they’re saying.

  7. Charles Says:


    No problem. Now that Christmas is over, I am getting a little tired of fruitcake. Nonetheless, something tells me that I am going to be eating it all year. I might need some help.

  8. Katie Says:

    What I fail to understand is why the teabaggers think they have a right to band together to form a lobbying group to petition for what they want, but they scream down every other group that does the same thing.

    I’d like to ask the teabaggers to their faces what the difference is? Because I honestly want to know.

    When the Hispanic Caucus in the Texas State Legislature and the UFW try to get the curriculum to include more Hispanic people included, and to ensure people like Cesar Chavez are not excluded, this enrages the teabaggers, of course, and they are conditioned to respond to any change by screaming, “I want my country back!”

    It’s absolutely beyond their ability to understand that part of the books have always been based on bad history, that a lot has been left out because of racism, that Spanish-speaking people settled what is now Texas before English-speaking people did, to say nothing about the indigenous people….you would think Texans would know this. Sheesh, I’m from Connecticut!

    But when I Googled a Dallas Morning News article on the looming fight over the Social Studies curriculum, the comments section turned my stomach. Lots of comments like “this is AMERICA, our kids need to learn AMERICAN history…”

    It *is* American history. I wonder if Santa Anna is a president of Mexico in a Texas schoolbook, or a wind.

  9. Charles Says:

    I agree with you Katie, but you have to understand that the Tea Baggers are a bundle of paranoia and fear. In the great immigrations of the 19th and very early 20th century, the generation right off the Cunard line in New York or Boston was schooled in the ways of the old country, which was hard for them to break. Many never learned to speak English very well, and their kids who attended U.S. schools often taught them what little they knew. However, these kids were expected to learn English and be typical Americans, which they did.

    The Tea Baggers realize that the first generation imigrants from a foreign country (particularly Mexico) will be pretty much like those of the past. Their fear concerns their children. Unlike those immigrant children of the past who learned American culture and became typical Americans, they feel that the children of these immigrant parents today want to retain all of their parent’s homeland culture and diffuse it until the minority culture becomes the dominant culture. The fear is that there will soon be whole counties in Texas where everyone is expected to speak Spanish and eat chili peppers as a midnight snack because they have been overwhelmed by immigrants bent on never changing. There is also a Tea Bagger concern that these people recognize Texas was once part of Mexico and that they are here to take back the land that is rightfully theirs and restore it with the rightful Spanish culture.

    Here is why they are wrong. It is a basic principle in cultural anthropology that has been proven time and time and time again all around the world. Without the sole possession of superior technological systems, a minority culture does not have the power to overwhelm a majority culture. It is the ultimate fate of all minority cultures in this situation to be absorbed by the dominant culture. As the Borg say, “Resistance is Futile.” The Tea Bagger fear and paranoia are based on their ignorance of basic principles in the field of social studies. Imagine that. Charles the anthropologist has spoken.

  10. Charles Says:

    Dang!!! Forgot my basic point.

    The Tea Baggers realize that the first generation imigrants from a foreign country (particularly Mexico) will be pretty much like those of the past. Their fear concerns their children. Unlike those immigrant children of the past who learned American culture and became typical Americans, they feel that the children of these immigrant parents today want to retain all of their parent’s homeland culture and diffuse it until the minority culture becomes the dominant culture. The fear is that there will soon be whole counties in Texas where everyone is expected to speak Spanish and eat chili peppers as a midnight snack because they have been overwhelmed by immigrants bent on never changing. There is also a Tea Bagger concern that these people recognize Texas was once part of Mexico and that they are here to take back the land that is rightfully theirs and restore it with the rightful Spanish culture.

    The Tea Baggers fear that the so-called “liberal bias” in the Texas public schools social studies curriculum wants to support and facilitate this takeover. When they say “…take back our public schools…” they are really saying that they want to ensure that the children of Hernando Gomez will be carving a turkey on Thanksgiving Day 2097 rather than a Thanksgiving burrito. By appropriate marriage to people with the right genes (which would of course be viewed dimly right now), all bronze tinge will be gone from the Gomez family skin by 2097, and they will have had enough good sense to have their family surname changed to “Smith.”

  11. SWalkerTTU Says:

    Conservatives in general are motivated by fear, usually of something they imagine which doesn’t turn out to be true.

    I wonder how many of these teabaggers in Texas are actually carpetbaggers.

  12. Molly Jenkins Says:

    To call someone a tea bagger is hateful. Why would one proport to be so very kind and generous and say such a horrible thing about someone just because different people have different opinions? That doesn’t seem open minded at all. I’m trying to understand, but I don’t. The people who hate people who go to tea parties seem very closed minded. Why not discuss issues instead of name calling? I would sincerely like an answer. Why be so hateful?

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