A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Don't Mess With Texts!

Check out How Christian Were the Founders?, by Russell Shorto, an article found in this past Sunday's The New York Times Magazine. The article is a fascinating review of the sometimes difficult and complicated issues facing those of us who find it repugnant that anyone seeks to impose their personal faith on our children in the public schools.

Those of us who value the objective and scientific nature of our classrooms face a politically aggressive Christian conservative movement that is systematically inserting religious dogma into our children's social studies and science texts. They've stacked the Texas review board, where most publishers seek the nod before printing expensive textbooks for our nation's school systems. After all, Texas buys 48 million textbooks per year, and nearly all the states buy what Texas likes.

A block of Christian conservatives vote together on the textbook board. The man who got this ball rolling was Don McLeroy. Shorto says, "McLeroy makes no bones about the fact that his professional qualifications have nothing to do with education. 'I'm a dentist, not a historian,' he said. 'But I'm fascinated by history, so I've read a lot." McLeroy was leading the charge, lobbying and arguing for Moses and Creationism to have their rightful place in our classrooms, at least until the Texas state senate got so embarrassed that they rebuked McLeroy and removed him from leadership.

Defenders of a secular nation, much less a secular education, are swimming upstream. According to Shorto, "Americans tell pollsters they support separation of church and state, but then again 65 percent of respondents to a 2007 survey by the First Amendment Center agreed with the statement that 'the nation's founders intended the United States to be a Christian nation,' and 55 percent said they believed the Constitution actually established the country as a Christian nation."

So keep an eye on the textbooks our school board chooses to purchase. This nonsense will be creeping into your kids' backpacks soon.


  1. I've seen the elementary and high school history text books. They're crap. We should dump all of them and just use study guides. Save money, save kids from lugging heavy textbooks, and focus on the major events in history rather than a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

  2. My daughter's pediatrician recommended that my daughter stop carrying so many books in her backpack because it was hard on her joints. Doctor's note in hand, we got the school to issue her second copies of her heaviest books to keep at home. Colleges don't use monster sized history tomes -- they issue a series of smaller books that give individual authors' opinions. It is a much more wholesome exercise because you learn to cite sources that way. You may not agree with the author, but writing an essay about that is just as educational. The melange of ideas that most history books have become these days is probably worth tossing. I'm not sure I'd go with study guides because they are just as easily manipulated.