Monday, August 24, 2009


So, for decades -- nay, over a century now -- there has been a constant tug-of-war waged by the religious right against including evolution in public school classrooms. To anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of biology, this is absolutely ludicrous. Trying to teach modern biology without evolution would be like trying to teach modern medicine without any discussion of germ theory. Evolutionary theory is modern biology.

The last few years of this war have not gone well for those who wage it. The Dover trial exposed the Intelligent Design movement as little more than a rebranding of creationism, and struck down its includion in public schools. Attempts to insert creationism into biology textbooks have failed, or have succeeded briefly before being overturned by voters or by courts.

Despite huge battles in this war being waged in Florida, Kansas, Pennsylvania and elsewhere; no single state is as important in this war as Texas.

Texas has a state-wide curriculum set by the state Board of Education. This means that rather than each district choosing its own textbooks, the state purchases vast numbers of only those textbooks that have been approved for the curriculum. As a result, Texas holds enormous sway over what is included in your public schools, whether you live in Texas or not. Textbook publishers tailor their content to fit the Texas curriculum. In a very real way, the Texas curriculum is the nation's curriculum.

Which makes what is going on there right now all the more troubling.

Religious conservatives, facing defeat after defeat on the creationism front, have taken an entirely new tack. Not content to simply rewrite science to fit a religious narrative, the Texas school board is now attempting to rewrite American history to reflect a religious, explicitly conservative narrative that is a grotesque distortion of reality:
The first draft for proposed standards in United States History Studies Since Reconstruction says students should be expected “to identify significant conservative advocacy organizations and individuals, such as Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly and the Moral Majority.”
This is outrageous. Amanda at Pandagon has an indepth take on this absolute insanity. As Amanda says, including people like Schlafly (who, of course, is a horrible monster) in the history books is not, in and of itself, nefarious. But it should be included in context of what it was she actually fought for, which was to deny equal rights to women. [Side note: Andrew Schlafly, Phyllis' son and founder of Conservapedia among other things], is also a piece of work Portraying her as some sort of hero is beyond ludicrous. It is outrageous.

Go read Amanda's post. She says everything better than I can say it, becuase all I want to say right now is "Mnablargablaniklobomablagrrrrrraflimaginlsdofidun!"

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