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Re-Writing History, Changing America's Young Minds


on 2010/2/10 8:02:01 ( 940 reads )

Source: www.nytimes.com

[HPI note: Hinduism Today cannot overemphasize the importance of this article's subject. Summarized below is the most comprehensive summary of what lies ahead of America's young minds today and the forces that will help shape this country's future. We highly recommend reading the original, not just for parents, but for citizens of any faith (including Christianity) who believe in the virtues of a separation between church and state.]

Last week, members of what is the most influential state board of education in the country, and one of the most politically conservative, submitted their own proposed changes to the new social-studies curriculum guidelines -- guidelines that will affect students around the country, from kindergarten to 12th grade, for the next 10 years. But seven of the 15 members of the Texas state board of education are quite open about the fact that they vote in concert to advance a Christian agenda.

Texas' curriculum guidelines are clear, broad and inclusive enough that many other states used them as a model in devising their own. Textbooks -- printed or online -- are still the backbone of education. "Texas was and still is the most important and most influential state in the country." James Kracht, a professor at Texas A&M's college of education and a longtime player in the state's textbook process, said flatly, "Texas governs 46 or 47 states."

The people who decide what America's children will learn in years to come are Texas board members like Don McLeroy, a dentist by profession, who proposed amendment after amendment on social issues. "I'm a dentist, not a historian," he said. Indeed, dentistry is only a job for McLeroy; his real passions are his faith and the state board of education. He has been a member of the board since 1999 and served as its chairman from 2007 until he was demoted from that role by the State Senate last May because of concerns over his religious views. For McLeroy, separation of church and state is a myth perpetrated by secular liberals. "I consider myself a Christian fundamentalist," he announced almost as soon as we sat down. He also identifies himself as a young-earth creationist who believes that the earth was created in six days, as the book of Genesis has it, less than 10,000 years ago. He went on to explain how his Christian perspective both governs his work on the state board and guides him in the current effort to adjust American-history textbooks to highlight the role of Christianity.

In a book she wrote two years ago, Cynthia Dunbar, another board member, could not have been more explicit about this being the reason for the Mayflower Compact's inclusion in textbooks; she quoted the document and then said, "This is undeniably our past, and it clearly delineates us as a nation intended to be emphatically Christian."

The process in Texas required that writing teams, made up mostly of teachers, do the actual work of revising the curriculum, with the aid of six appointed experts. One of them, the Rev. Peter Marshall, says that his work is "dedicated to helping to restore America to its Bible-based foundations through preaching, teaching and writing on America's Christian heritage and on Christian discipleship and revival." He proposes, for example, that children be taught that the separation-of-powers notion is "rooted in the Founding Fathers' clear understanding of the sinfulness of man." Another nonacademic expert, David Barton, has written and lectured on the First Amendment and against separation of church and state. When the U.S. Senate invited a Hindu leader to open a 2007 session with a prayer, he objected, saying: "In Hindu [sic], you have not one God, but many, many, many, many, many gods. And certainly that was never in the minds of those who did the Constitution, did the Declaration when they talked about Creator."

[HPI note: You can read more about this controversy and see Hinduism Today's efforts at https://www.hinduismtoday.com/education/ . In the next issue of the magazine, you will also find the fifth installment of our History Lesson.]

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