Right-Wing Ideologue ‘Experts’ Weigh In On Texas History Standards; Hearing Tomorrow

September 16, 2009 9:59 am

The circus down in Texas surrounding new history textbook standards continues.

Now, a panel of experts appointed by the GOP-controlled State Board of Education has released reviews of the proposed curriculum, which, as we noted recently, would require students to be conversant in Reaganomics and the heroes of movement conservatism.

The group of six experts is “extremely influential” in the curriculum writing process, says Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network, which closely tracks the activist board of education. And they can be broken into two groups: mainstream academics and right-wing ideologues.Take the Rev. Peter Marshall. His Peter Marshall Ministries — whose Web site is, sad to say, down today — seeks “to restore America to its Bible-based foundations through preaching, teaching, and writing on America’s Christian heritage and on Christian discipleship and revival.”

Marshall’s books include “The Light and the Glory for Children: Discovering God’s Plan for America from Christopher Columbus to George Washington,” from Christian publisher Revell.

In his review of the proposed textbook standards, Marshall denounces Anne Hutchinson as “a favorite of modern feminists” but “not sufficiently ‘significant'” to include with Roger Williams, John Smith, and William Bradford. (Read an excerpt of Marshall’s comments here.)

He declares the term “imperialism” applicable to European expansionism, but inappropriate for the US adventures in Hawaii and Mexico.

Finally, Marshall weighs in on the section of the proposed textbook standards we recently flagged that require knowledge of Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly, and the Moral Majority. To that list, Marshall recommends adding “Jim Dobson (Focus on the Family) … Rush Limbaugh … and the National Rifle Association.” And for the sake of balance, adds:

I personally do not have a problem with adding an SE that would include liberal organizations such as Planned Parenthood, Move On.org, and the Sierra Club, provided the students are made aware of Planned Parenthood’s funding of abortion clinics.

Marshall is expected to speak tomorrow when the board meets to discuss the standards for the first time (we plan to be watching).

Another board-designated “expert” who will likely speak is David Barton, founder and president of Wallbuilders, which is “dedicated to presenting America’s forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on the moral, religious, and constitutional foundation on which America was built.” Barton’s books include America’s Godly Heritage and The Role of Pastors & Christians in Civil Government (Wallbuilders Press).

In his review of the textbook standards, Barton, to his credit, criticizes the inclusion of individuals merely because they are conservative. However, he also set off a round of War on Christmas hysteria over the deletion of a reference to the holiday in favor of the Hindu Diwali in a 6th grade world cultures course. (Read an excerpt of his review here.)

In all of this, the thing to remember is that the State Board of Education doesn’t merely have the power to unleash a Gingrich-based history curriculum on kids across the Lone Star State. Because of the state’s size and the dynamics of the national textboook market, what happens in Texas, experts say, doesn’t stay in Texas.

Quinn and his colleagues at the Texas Freedom Network are not optimistic. “I think the signs are not good, particularly considering what happened with the science standards — [that is,] the watering down of instructions on evolution,” he tells TPMmuckraker.

Without getting too much into parliamentary technicalities, here’s how the process culminating in the the adoption of new standards will unfold (thanks to the University of Texas for laying this out):

–This Week: Discussion by the board, with expert reviewer and some public comment.

–November: Board discusses revised recommendations from the curriculum writing teams.

–January ’10: First vote by board on new standards, preceded by public hearing.

–February ’10: Revised standards posted online, open for public comment.

–March ’10: Final vote by board on new standards Revised standards posted online, open for public comment.

–Fall ’11: New standards implemented in Texas public schools

–Fall ’12: Board adopts new textbooks

–Fall ’13: Texan high schoolers — and potentially their peers around the country — use the new textbooks

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