OK, so I am English by birth, but have lived in California for many years, and today I am proud of my adopted state. Reacting against the right-wing bias of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE), CA State Senator Leland Yee ( D – San Francisco) has introduced a bill that seeks to protect the nation’s largest public school population from the revised social studies curriculum approved in March by the Texas SBOE. (Texas being the nation’s second biggest public school population.)
As I wrote here a few weeks ago, the Texas recommendations, which face a final vote by the Republican-dominated board on May 21, include adding language saying the country’s Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles; students would learn nothing about Thomas Jefferson’s political philosophy or his thoughts about the separation of church and state, but instead would read about “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s.” This would include references to the Moral Majority, the National RIfle Association and the Contract with America, the congressional GOP manifesto from the 1990s. You can still take action against this egregious move to ignore and distort history by signing the petition.
What is Yee aiming to do? Under his bill, SB1451, the California Board of Education would be required to look out for any of the Texas content as part of its standard practice of reviewing public school governance and academic content standards in California. Yee’s bill describes the proposed Texas curriculum changes as “a sharp departure from widely accepted historical teachings” and “a threat to the apolitical nature of public school governance and academic content standards in California.”
“While some Texas politicians may want to set their educational standards back 50 years, California should not be subject to their backward curriculum changes,” Yee explained. “The alterations and fallacies made by these extremist conservatives are offensive to our communities and inaccurate of our nation’s diverse history.” Yee was referring to the fact that the proposed Texas changes are dismissive of the contributions of minorities, and in fact mean that non-whites rarely rate a mention.
The California Senate Committee on Education has already approved passage of this bill, and it now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Critics point out that California’s curriculum isn’t about to undergo any kind of change, Texas-influenced or otherwise, for now, since the statewide adoption of any new materials has been suspended until July 2013, to give cash-strapped districts a break from buying new books.
But at least Yee is challenging the frightening bid by religious conservatives to take over the minds of our young people.
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