UPDATE: From TheTexan.News: “State Board of Education Votes to Scrap Proposed Social Studies Standards Drafts Amid Allegations of CRT.”
When we see statistics showing that almost half of younger Americans prefer socialism to capitalism, you have to wonder how they became so delusional and unaware of the opportunities and quality of life that the free enterprise system has brought to so many Americans. Why do they believe thousands of people are streaming across our southern border every day, risking their lives for the chance to get a job and go after their dreams?
But the reason is simple. It’s because they are learning it at school.
If you think this is a fringe concept, pushed only in progressive states, you should review the proposed list of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) drafted by educators who volunteer their time and currently being reviewed by the State Board of Education for social studies classes for children in K-8. A quick read-through does not unearth tons of inaccuracies, but it does reveal a pattern of anti-American and anti-Texan viewpoints as well a subtle bias against free enterprise, family and Christianity. The message is delivered not by what is said, but by what is omitted.
It is true, for example, that Texas is a state where cattle, oil and cotton are major industries, but that is old news. Texas is the fastest growing state in the union, home to huge and rapidly growing tech and biotech sectors and all kinds of business innovation. Texans file the second highest number of new patents every year and the Lone Star State is home to more Fortune 500 companies than any other state. There is an extensive discussion of migration patterns throughout the TEKS, but students are given no information on why more Americans have moved to Texas than any other state over the last decade.
According to the TEKS, children will now begin learning about early civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, Latin America, Southwest Asia and Persia in the early grades. The course outlines for each of these civilizations include broad information about their economies, culture, people and religions, but none of the teaching points mention that many of these civilizations broadly utilized slave labor. This is only important because slavery is among the first things these children learn about the American colonies. They learn about the transatlantic slave trade before they learn about the Mayflower Compact.
The principles of the America Revolution—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—appear to be taught in the TEKS at least in part to demonstrate how those ideals did not conform to the practice of slavery in America. That’s true. They didn’t.
Children must be taught the dark brutal facts about slavery, an issue that tore the country apart, caused the Civil War and cost the lives of almost 400,000 Union soldiers who sacrificed their lives to end it. The impact of that struggle is embedded in all our lives as Americans, but particularly on the lives of African Americans.
Still, students need to know that the founding principles of the American Revolution were critical in the push to end slavery both here and worldwide. As the prominent American historian Gordon Wood has pointed out, “the first anti-slavery meeting anywhere in the world was held in Philadelphia in 1776.” When abolitionists weren’t able to end slavery at the Constitutional Convention, they kept fighting.
Context is critical. Students must understand that while some Americans shamefully perpetrated slavery, it was not invented here. Slavery existed throughout the world dating to biblical times, and used even in Africa for political and economic means, which made it even more difficult to destroy. After President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender officially ended slavery in the United States, slavery was still legal in nearly two dozen countries in the world. The Brussels Conference Act did not fully end the slave trade in some parts of Europe and European colonies until 1890—nearly three decades later.
The same anti-American narrative is visible in the lesson notes regarding World War II. The top teaching points are the Japanese internment camps and a debate over whether dropping atomic bombs on Japan was justified. Both are important to discuss, but surely students should also know that America led the victorious Allied forces, liberated Nazi concentration camps and rebuilt Europe.
In terms of religion, the TEKS point out that the founding of Islam inspired art, libraries, scientific and medical advances. Meanwhile, Christianity, a world religion embraced by almost two thirds of Americans, gets short shrift. Even the portion about the Renaissance in which DaVinci, Shakespeare and Guttenberg are discussed, it is not noted that both artists frequently employed Christian themes, and Joseph Guttenberg’s claim to fame is that he printed the first Bible.
One of the most obvious pro-socialist teachings is that kindergartners are told that their place in the world begins with their role in their community, not their family.
There are dozens more examples of these anti-American omissions, and going after them has become a whack-a-mole project for Texas parents. The SBOE should block this proposal. Teaching from study guides like this is just one of the one reason that parents are angry and demanding transparency and accountability from public schools. Perhaps the TEKS should include information for students about how the parental rights movement evolved in the 21st century—and why.
Greg Sindelar is the Chief Executive Officer of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He joined the Foundation in August of 2007, having served as the Director of Operations, Chief Operating Officer, and Executive Director.
Dr. Ben Carson served as the 17th U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development, is founder and chairman of the American Cornerstone Institute, and is author of “Created Equal: The Painful Past, Confusing Present, and Hopeful Future of Race in America.”