Archive for the ‘Thurgood Marshall’ Category

Gail Lowe’s Peculiar Ideas about ‘Citizenship’

August 15, 2009

Texas State Board of Education Chairwoman Gail Lowe has some peculiar views when it comes to teaching students about good citizenship. In her view, labor leader César Chavez and civil rights champion and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall aren’t good role models for that.

Right-wing critics want to censor discussion of Chavez and Marshall in public school social studies classrooms, claiming that they lack sufficient stature and are poor role models for students. In a new interview with the Associated Press, Lowe presses the far right’s case against the two:

Marshall and Chavez are “not particularly known for their citizenship,” Lowe said. “Figures we use to represent those character ideals (citizenship, patriotism and community involvement) and the type of persons we want your students to emulate should be politically neutral.”

Neutral about what? Racial segregation in public schools? Voting rights? The right of people to organize and campaign for better working and living conditions? The heroes of the American Revolution weren’t “neutral” about people organizing and fighting against tyranny. Abraham Lincoln wasn’t “neutral” about the inhumanity and injustice of slavery. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott weren’t “neutral” on the civil and political rights of women. Are none of them appropriate role models for “good citizenship”? Is Ms. Lowe herself “neutral” on any of these issues? Is anyone?

The Associated Press article doesn’t include any examples of “good citizens” Lowe has for inclusion in the public school social studies curriculum standards, which the state board is currently revising. So we’ll wait to find out whether those individuals would be considered “neutral” on issues like racial and voting discrimination and the rights of citizens to organize and fully participate in our government and society.

One thing should be clear now to everyone, however. Lowe’s appointment as chair of the state board is no improvement over the chairmanship of Don McLeroy. The education of Texas schoolchildren will still be held hostage by far-right ideologues with personal and political axes to grind.


Blacklisting César Chavez

July 7, 2009

It didn’t take long for the absurdly unqualified ideologues appointed to a social studies curriculum panel by the Texas State Board of Education to start playing politics with our kids’ education. Two far-right members of the so-called “expert” panel guiding the curriculum revision are demanding that César Chavez — the renowned community and labor organizer and civil rights leader — be stricken from the standards because they say he’s not the right kind of role model for students.

That’s only one of the problems with the “expert” reviews of the current social studies standards provided to the Texas Education Agency last week by the panelists. The panel is made up of six members, including a trio of mainstream academics from Texas universities. The others include political activist David Barton of Texas and evangelical minister Peter Marshall of Massachusetts, who used their reviews to criticize the inclusion of Chavez and other historical figures they consider inappropriate. In addition, they and fellow panelist Daniel Dreisbach of American University make lengthy arguments that the Founders intended to create a distinctly Christian American nation based on biblical principles. That contention conflicts with multiple rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court and sharply differs with the research of most scholars. In fact, mainstream scholars point out that  the Founders sought to protect the religious freedom of citizens by keeping the affairs of government and religious institutions separate.

But let’s consider  first what we fear might become a growing “blacklist” of historical figures, especially Chavez, social conservatives find objectionable.