Please mess with Texas

By
March 29, 2010

My annoyance-driven vendetta against Texas is growing by the week. No, it’s not Texans themselves or Texas culture, but rather the fact that I hear about Texas too much.

For some strange reason, whenever I meet new people, I’m always asked, “Are you from Texas?” I don’t wear cowgirl hats or chaps, ride horses or have a stupid bumper sticker that reads “Don’t mess with Texas.” Apparently, I have some kind of drawl when I speak. Born and raised in Richmond, Calif. and I have a drawl. Right.

To make matters worse, my middle name is Austin, which is, unfortunately, the capitol of Texas. I cringe when asked if I’m named after the city. Who is named after a state capitol? I’ve never met a Sacramento or a Topeka.

Needless to say, the Lone Star state makes my life more difficult, and it’s also trying to screw up history. No, that’s not a dig on George W. Bush. Don’t get me started.

According to a New York Times article a few weeks ago, the Texas Board of Education approved putting a conservative spin on all history and economics curricula in kindergarten through 12th grade textbooks.

The leader of this conservative crusade, Dr. Don McLeroy, says the changes are “adding balance” to subjects already skewed to the left.

Some of the changes include questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a secular government, questioning the validity of separation of church and state since the actual phrase isn’t in the Constitution, including the “violent” philosophies of the Black Panthers, changing the word “capitalism” to “free-enterprise,” removing Thomas Jefferson from the list of those who inspired revolutions in the 18th and 19th centuries and not including more Latino figures as role models.

Wow. Can you imagine sitting in on these hearings?

“We’re leaving out T.J. because he thought up the whole separation of church and state jive.

“Say something bad about the civil rights movement so it doesn’t make all us white guys look bad.

“Isn’t Cesar Chavez enough history for the Latinos?”

My favorite part of the whole story is this one tiny fact: “There were no historians, sociologists or economists consulted.” Heaven forbid the inclusion of experts when changing facts about history. Experts, or educated people, are the enemy. A new bumper sticker slogan, perhaps?

What’s the big deal? Let Texan students learn a history lesson fabricated by ideologues. According to the Washington Post, the 4.7 million students in Texas create a significant demand for textbooks, making the newly-changed copies more affordable for other school districts in the nation.

In other words, the textbooks dripping in conservative slobber can slowly spread beyond Texas borders to infect all students.

I can understand making changes to textbooks that are relevant and actually contain facts — not ideologies — about history, but partisanship becoming more important than the greater good is ridiculous. Maybe conservatives want to create a larger voting base in the upcoming years. It’s like tobacco companies recruiting smokers when they’re young.

If I wanted to devote a 25-page chapter in a textbook to women’s history and sprinkle it with a little feminist theory, chaos would ensue. I can already hear the sound bite: “9-year-old girls will start burning their bras because of this.”

Who brainstormed the whole concept of politicians, not teachers or historians, voting to change a curriculum anyway? Maybe that chapter was voted out of my high school history textbook.

The final vote to approve the changes happens this May. Meanwhile, the entire curriculum is posted at the Texas state registrar and is open for public comment, according to the New York Times.

With the conservatives dominating the education board, I bet the entire curriculum is approved. That’s why I’ll be searching for speech classes to fix my so-called drawl and finding a new middle name. Carla Augusta rings nicely, don’t you think?


Please mess with Texas was published on March 29, 2010 in Column, Opinions

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