When I saw a June 30, Texas Tribune a story headlined: “State education board members push back on proposal to use “involuntary relocation” to describe slavery,” it was immediately clear that it was riddled with inaccuracies, misinformation and blatant left wing propaganda, but it was such non-news that it hardly seemed worth the effort to challenge it. The Texas media – particularly the Texas Tribune — is dogmatic and unapologetic and cannot be reasoned with or even shamed into caring about the truth.
But then the story, misinformation and all, was picked up nationally and the San Antonio Express-News published an equally uninformed and outraged editorial complete with a 48 point headline, and it became imperative to point out the facts.
The media uses several tactics to create and repeat false narratives day after day, both in the stories they write and the stories they ignore. In the Texas Tribune story about the Texas State Board of Education [SBOE] it’s clear how they made 2 plus 2 equal 5 by reporting a tidbit of non-news and linking it to a left-wing narrative. Here’s the opening line:
A group of Texas educators have proposed to the Texas State Board of Education that slavery should be taught as “involuntary relocation” during second grade social studies instruction, but board members have asked them to reconsider the phrasing, according to the state board’s chair.
The “group of Texas educators” were volunteers who were making suggestions to the professional historians who advise the SBOE on curriculum. As soon as term “involuntary relocation” was pointed out, it was immediately rejected by everyone in the meeting.
It is not clear from the news report why the SBOE was looking at what was essentially an un-reviewed draft of some suggestions from these teachers, but whoever proposed the term “involuntary relocation” did not defend it. The volunteers were told to go back to the drawing board. There was no discussion or debate regarding the term “involuntary relocation” and there was never any chance it would show up in a Texas classroom or a text book.
Still CBS national news reported that Texas officials propose changing slavery to “involuntary relocation” and Forbes Magazine joined dozens of other media outlets in repeating and adding new misinformation to the Tribune news report. Their headline was: Downplaying Slavery, Texas educators will call it “involuntary relocation.”
Brian Lopez, the Tribune reporter who wrote the story, intentionally created this controversy by embellishing his news story with several statements from other educators who were adamant about the inappropriateness of the term “involuntary relocation.” He gives the impression that it was only their outrage that stopped “involuntary relocation” from being substituted for slavery in Texas public school classes.
If Lopez had been interested in reporting facts, he could have added that the term “involuntary relocation,” was in a section of the proposal entitled “Enslaved People in America.” He could also have talked with any of the prominent historians who are actually developing the content for the social studies curriculum and given his readers some insight into that process.
He might also have explained that the new social studies guidelines for K-2 were being developed for the first time because the SBOE decided this spring that history will now be taught in every grade. Previously history and social studies were only taught in Texas in the 4th and 7th grades.
Instead he “explained” that slavery is not currently taught in second grade.
By throwing the word “slavery” into his story, he can then falsely blame Senate Bill 3, the ban on using critical race theory as a basis for instruction in Texas public schools, for the “involuntary relocation” wording.
He chooses words like “dictates” to suggest that Senate Bill 3 restricts or even prohibits teaching about slavery in Texas schools. In fact, Senate Bill 3 makes it clear that slavery and the issues surrounding it must be taught. A few of the minimum requirements for history students include learning the basic facts of the civil war, reading the writings of Frederick Douglas, reading both fugitive slave acts and “the history of white supremacy, including the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement, and the Ku Klux Klan, and the ways in which it is morally wrong…”
Reporter Lopez then returns to a familiar and inaccurate talking point for him — that Texas conservatives are restricting the teaching of slavery in schools in reaction to critical race theory which he insists is not being taught in Texas schools. To “prove” his point he links to several teachers who insist they never teach it. He ignores the fact that Texas public schools have frequently been found to use the precepts of critical race theory, which states that racism permeates every American institution and all white people are racists, whether they know it or not.
In fact, Senate Bill 3 ensures that, in Texas public schools, no child can be blamed for any action because of their race. It also affirms that no child will be regarded as a victim solely because of their race or ethnicity.
In order to get in one more slam against conservatives, none of whom are quoted in his story, he finishes his phony narrative that the teaching of slavery is restricted in public schools by noting that both the Texas governor and the lieutenant governor have announced their support for the so-called “Don’t Say Gay,” bill which he says “limits classroom discussions about LGBTQ people.”
As everybody except the left-wing press seems to know, that Florida legislation limits discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.
There’s no prohibition against saying “gay” in schools in Florida and few seriously question that it’s inappropriate for teachers to discuss sexual orientation and gender identity with 5, 6 and 7 year olds. But the Texas Tribune goes with the inaccurate spin rather than the facts to feed their false, anti-Texas narrative. It is difficult to say what is the most inaccurate and biased news outlet in Texas, but the Texas Tribune is always a top contender.