Could Texas Get Any More Embarrassing?

That’s a rhetorical question.

In my classes, when I need an example to illustrate bad public policy (or utter disregard for settled constitutional principles), I can always count on Texas.  Patheos has reported on the most recent example of Lone Star idiocy (more recent even than the vote in Houston not to extend equal rights to LGBT folks because you just know that would encourage men to dress like women and use the girl’s potties…), to wit:

The Board just rejected a proposal that would allow experts to fact-check textbooks before they’re approved for use in the state’s public schools.

Let me repeat that because it’s so stunningly stupid.

The Board just rejected a proposal that would allow experts to fact-check textbooks before they’re approved for use in the state’s public schools.

This is hardly the first time the Texas Board of Education has been, shall we say, “controversial.” A 2010 NPR report described that year’s effort to purge Texas textbooks of material the board disliked. The Board made changes emphasizing the “importance of Christianity to the founders,” the danger to the country’s solvency posed by “long-term entitlements” like Social Security, and the causes of the civil war. (Those causes were identified as sectionalism, states’ rights and–oh yeah,what was that other thing?– slavery.)

In this case, Board member Tom Ratliff had proposed bringing in academic experts to review textbooks for factual errors only; the measure was voted down after a lengthy discussion about the dangers posed by “pointy-headed liberals in ivory towers.”

As the blogger says..

Because what the hell do “experts” who work in “academia” know about “facts” and “the goddamn subjects they devoted their entire lives to understanding”?

Just kill me now…..


  1. “Could Texas get any more embarrassing?” you ask. Well, yes they could. They could yet again give the nation another war mongering president.

  2. What scares me is that “Texas thinking” has invaded my holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas are tense because my own family is so mired in nationality and religiosity that they do not include sources beyond Fox News to inform themselves. I don’t know what to do.

  3. Isn’t the vast majority of K-12 textbooks used in our country produced in Texas? Does Indiana fact-check? (I seriously doubt it.) This is, I think, much bigger than Texas.

  4. Sheila,

    “Just kill me now….”

    Wait a few more days. I’ve got my proof. We can defeat evil.

    “Human evil is too important for a one-sided understanding. And it is too large a reality to be grasped within a single frame of reference. Indeed, it is so basic to be inherently and inevitably mysterious. The understanding of basic reality is never something we achieve; it is only something that can be approached. And, in fact, the closer we approach it the more we realize we do not understand–the more we stand in awe of its mystery.”
    “People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil” by M. Scott Peck, p. 39

    All though “Father Evil” has passed away his descendants are still alive and well in TEXAS. As I’ve pointed out before on this blog, I was General Counsel of Father Evil’s Company in Dallas: The Mclendon Corporaton.

  5. “There will be Hell to pay, when all of these “new” realities clash! Without fact checkers, there is no “civil” in civilization…ijs
    Apparently, we are NOT evolving…

  6. Ernest,

    “Apparently, we are not evolving.”

    It’s hard to tell when instead of two feet forward and one backward, we are now moving: one step forward and two backward.

    That’s a significant shift. The situation is not static. It has the potential for exponential growth at any time.

  7. Just the latest gambit from the “thought control” police. It’s both embarrassing and dangerous.

  8. The old saying said often in jest, but now it has a new reality – Don’t confuse me with the Facts. The Anti-Knowledge particles at work.

  9. Sheila, can you tell us if Indiana’s textbooks are fact checked? I found out a few years ago that the history stories I was taught from grade school through high school taught us to idolize Indiana’s governing settlers.

    We were not told that these men brutally killed and stole (using trickery) this land from the Native Americans. We were taught to regard those men as brave soldiers.

    I am still disgusted to this day about the lies we were taught and how this land was stolen from the rightful owners.

  10. Sheila; you probably shouldn’t use the term “just kill me now” when referring to Texas – not even in exasperation. They are the gun-tottin’ist state in the union. And their text books probably cover their right to rid the country of anyone who spake agin’ their larnin’ sources.

    What about Indiana’s textbooks? Who, other than Daniels, checks them for facts they do not want taught to students? With the mess this state’s entire education system is in, do we have the right to speak against any other state, even Texas. Front page of the Star today, “Failures abound, results show” but Pence told teachers not to take results personally…in fact not to pay attention to current results, “But rating schools based on those results has sparked debate among education policy-makers, with Gov. Mike Pence saying his administration is exploring ways to modify the newest round of grades.” Who made the policy, were the textbooks used by schools examined for content – meaning facts, why have they released results which are NOT really the results? What about the ISTEP results of home-schooled students? Are they evaluated; if so is the same procedure used for them as for entire school systems?

    Teresa Meredith, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association stated, “No one should get too concerned about these scores. They don’t mean anything.” Then why were they scored, who scored them and why were bogus results released to the public? Is Pence going to shove all of this onto Glenda Ritz? WTF is going on in Indiana education; leave Texas to Texans and the Bush klan. We need to clean up our own back yard. If not worse than Texas; Indiana at least rivals them regarding the lack of education in our education system.

  11. When I teach climate science I try to instill the thought that life gives us five essential for survival but extremely limited senses that are the only pathways to our brain. Virtually everything in the universe happens outside of what we can sense.

    So we have scientists who employ fancy equipment to learn what we can’t sense and then teach it to us through what we can: printed words and sounds and pictures.

    The point? Learning is the only way to understand reality that is beyond our experience. We can’t figure it out by ourselves. We have to connect with centuries of other brains who figured it out for us in order to know and understand what’s real.

    Sorry Texans and the GOPs and TV evangelists and addicts and Googletons everywhere. Education is the only path to reality. The alternative to education is living in a dream.

  12. Considering that TX politicians are almost by definition not part of the “reality-based community” this is exactly what you would expect. While at the national level you expect a certain amount of grandstanding (with quietly rolling eyes), at the school board level I’m afraid they actually believe the drivel they spout.

    A friend of mine & I are starting a business in health education here in the northeast, and we have a long laundry-list of states & universities that we’ve blacklisted for new hires. TX is right up there in the top ten. Luckily “former resident of a failed state” is not an EOE-protected class.

  13. Wouldn’t such active inaction be a dereliction of duty? Just what is the primary purpose of a textbook committee? Have they just downgraded their reponsibilities to merely deciding that 50 year old textbooks are, not outdated, but physically too worn out? Time to thin those ranks of gummint, even if that one is a place for the guv to park his campaign obligations.

  14. All this does is make me feel even more strongly that the State of our Union has never *really* been strong and that some mind sets are so deeply engrained in some states that we’re deluding ourselves into thinking this whole experiment in federalism has worked. At this point I’d rather be honest about the realities of each state which would have to begin by dropping the mask of unification.

  15. Knowledge is every bit as necessary for our survival as oxygen, water and food are. Being education starved just as fatal as being oxygen, food, or water deprived.

    Yet the contagion depriving us of education is spreading. And infectious.

    We can hope for a miracle or unleash the full power of democracy. At some point it will be too late.

  16. Hey, I live in Texas. Plenty of us are embarrassed along with you. I could go on awhile. Monday a group of various activist groups including Texas Drought Drought Project. SEED, public Citizen, and others are going to present an award from the Flat Earth Society to Cong. Lamar Smith. He and Ted Cruz are all out against climate change. I’m wondering if any of you are checking out the Koch bros in re: your public school systems.

  17. Someone should create a 12 Step Program for troubled states like Texas that would enable them to overcome their addiction to stupid. But of course there is that troublesome Step 1 of admitting you have a problem.

  18. Great idea, daleb, but when their poll leader is pictured signing a woman’s chest at a rally, they may be too far gone to even know stupid, let alone admit to the affliction.

  19. Andy: You can’t get a new family, I don’t guess, but you can stay home…or take a nice, long drive in the car and listen to some CDs of your favorite music. Avoid those ‘troublesome’ stations that are sure to mess up your head.

    All: You’re right. You can’t fix stupid. Those who are ‘lightly tethered to reality’ are pretty pleased to be where they are. It certainly isn’t just Texas or Indiana. Tennessee a long way from sensible and practical, too. Think Marsha Blackburn and Stacey Campfield…no, wait, don’t. It will ruin your weekend!

  20. There have always been more and less educated people. We are all ignorant but, fortunately, about different things. There’s nothing new in this regard today.

    Perhaps what has changed though is our media technology now creating at least the possibility, or maybe the illusion, of more equitably distributed knowledge. We used to know and accept what we didn’t know and let others take care of problems that we were not cognitively equipped to solve. We still do in some situations but more and more we unrealistically evaluate what we truly have learned vs what we wish to be a firm grasp of reality.

    The same media though is also fighting to get us back to grounded in our capabilities. People like Neal DeGrasse Tyson and our own Sheila and numerous others patiently separate each day what is real from what we wish was.

    We remember the days of good vs evil but haven’t yet equated it to known vs guessed.

  21. What’s happening w textbooks is frightening but ck out new bus school at fla st u Koch run controlled only honest reporting is free speech tv

  22. Ah the most wonderful Molly Ivins………another wonderful woman, Juanita Jean, blogs daily from the country of TX……..she is a good one! And her readers are hysterical……there is hope in TX.

  23. We can’t blame Texas. After all, those academic types are supposed to seek the truth and everyone knows that reality has a liberal bias.

    Sadly this isn’t new, nor is it isolated to the South. Back in the old days when I was taking American History in the 5th grade in northern, very big-city Detroit, we had a whopper of a textbook (later removed after complaints by the NAACP among others).

    We learned, among other things, with “cute” rhymed couplet chapter headings like “Manifest Destiny was not to boast, that we owned American from coast to coast”, that those pesky American Indians were just in the way and didn’t deserve the land since they didn’t know how to properly exploit it. (I still remember the rhyme and the arrogance — and I was just 10 years old).

    Also, we learned that after the Civil War, the poor Negro ex-slaves were lost without Massa’ telling them what to do, so many just starved. This was complete with a drawing of a man squatting in front of a shack scratching the ground with a stick.

    No fact-checking there, but since they do everything “bigger” in Texas, I really pity the children there.

  24. The ultimate weapon with high schools is the teacher, not the textbook. A smart and informed teacher can approach an area any way he/she wants. Just an assignment that asks students to compare and contrast various sources, even the ones cited in the text, and asking them to talk about what they found can be very interesting. What happens when, after their respective discussion says, “Hey, the text is really different than what really happened!” Teacher can just smile. There are many other ways to skin that cat, providing the teacher is with it, and many do that. The bad textbook can become your friend, almost as the straw man. Of course, it work the other way, too, but sometimes kids are pretty smart, and can figure things out. Unlike the what the cynical people believe who run those Boards of Education, kids’ brains are not empty jugs to fill with garbage.

  25. You are right Stuart about a teacher being able to use critical thinking activities to expose the omissions, misrepresentations and outright lies in a bad textbook. You are right, so far. But, there is a real crisis coming if we continue as a nation to move toward fascism. Already teachers are facing pressure to use scripted materials and upload not only their lesson plans but the student work as well. There are many ways right wing ideologues can put the squeeze on teachers to spout the company line. What a blow to democracy some of these technological “improvements” may turn out to be.

  26. Texas is such a big market for textbooks that publishers selling books nationwide tailor the content to what is acceptable there. So, it does affect us.

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