Washington Monthly has a fantastic feature detailing the efforts of ultra-conservatives to rewrite textbooks for Texas schools. Since Texas is such a big market, it will affect what's in textbooks around the country. The effort had been reported on before, but Mariah Blake adds some history, noting that the involvement of conservatives grew after efforts in the 1960s to teach a more inclusive history:
This shift spurred a fierce backlash from social conservatives, and some began hunting for ways to fight back. In the 1960s, Norma and Mel Gabler, a homemaker and an oil-company clerk, discovered that Texas had a little-known citizen-review process that allowed the public to weigh in on textbook content. From their kitchen table in the tiny town of Hawkins, the couple launched a crusade to purge textbooks of what they saw as a liberal, secular, pro-evolution bias.
Among the changes? History books, for example, would emphasize the Christianity of America's founders and the role of conservatives in recent decades, leaving out liberals -- a sad coda to the death of Howard Zinn, the people's historian who showed the course of events from the perspective of the oppressed. Zinn, of course, undeniably had a point of view when he did so. The idea that history is colored by the lens of those who view it is, surely, nothing new. What's so depressing here is the anti-intellectualism and exclusionary tactics of those in charge in Texas. They seem to have mistaken the idea that there might be multiple readings of any historical event to mean almost anything you want to believe is true.
-- Monica Potts
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