Keep political bias out of history books

The Texas Board of Education (BOE) instituted controversial changes to the state’s social studies curriculum last month.

Under the new standards, teachers would increase emphasis on the superiority of American capitalism, give a positive-leaning explanation of Republican political ideologies and downplay the Founding Fathers’ desire to separate church and state, among other changes, according to the New York Times.

“We are adding balance,” said Texas school board chairman Dr. Don McLeroy following the vote. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”

McLeroy – who believes God created the world less than 10,000 years ago – failed to push the board to teach against evolutionary theory.

Perhaps McLeroy should stick to giving advice in his chosen profession of dentistry.

When viewing the contemporary approach toward history through thick and cloudy lenses of a hard-line conservative ideologue with little or no historical background, it may seem like these changes make sense.

But in any other context, this is nothing more than conservative activism attempting to disregard reality and academic purity to influence students toward supporting the Republican Party.

Texas revises its curriculum every 10 years. This time, the BOE is composed of 10 Republicans and five Democrats. The Republican majority has approved more than 100 changes since January to curriculum standards affecting sociology, history and economics courses for elementary to high school, according to the Times.

But one proposed change wasn’t approved to add more Hispanic role models to the curriculum last month, despite the No. 1 name for male babies born in Texas being Jose, according to the Social Security Administration.

As another slap in the face to minorities, the board approved an increased emphasis on the more violent activists of the civil rights movement.

“They can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist,” Texas BOE member Mary Helen Berlanga said after storming out of a meeting last month.

On the night of the vote, three other Democrats left, allowing Republicans to easily push through amendments promoting “American exceptionalism” and the U.S. free enterprise, with the suggestion that it thrives best in the absence of excessive government intervention, according to the Huffington Post.

Limited government is the loudest and most profoundly shouted argument from conservatives, so there is no denying the fact that the board is pushing its Republican ideology on children.

Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that textbooks in other states may be affected. As textbook makers lower their standards for Texas, the second largest state in the nation with major buying power, smaller states may have to buy the biased textbooks as well.

Americans should not be willing to stand by while the nation’s children face the threat of indoctrination by the Texas BOE.

The lessons of history are a valuable tool for future generations and should not be skewed in any way.

Justin Rivera is a senior majoring in history.