News from Barbara!
THE CARGILL CONNECTION,
Dear friends and supporters,
UPDATE ON THE VOTE FOR K-12 HISTORY TEXTBOOKS
The State Board of Education voted on the final approval of K-12 history textbooks on Friday, November 21. The approved list of textbooks has been posted on the Texas Education Agency website at http://tea.texas.gov/Curriculum_and_Instructional_Programs/Instructional_Materials/ When you open the link, click on SBOE-Adopted Proclamation 2015 Materials (PDF) under Latest News. I extend heartfelt thanks to those of you who testified in Austin or e-mailed, called, or wrote board members, encouraging them to support textbooks that reflect the values and ideals that we hold dear.
I am pleased with the results of the State Board of Education's (SBOE) vote. Many of us on the board stood strong against liberal groups who wanted accurate content about our country's rich religious heritage not only revised but eliminated. As your board member, I fought to ensure that the textbooks are factually correct about our country’s rich religious heritage, patriotism, the military, the Founding Fathers and documents, American exceptionalism, and the benefits of the free enterprise system.
Our students must be taught true, factual history, not revisionist history. The textbooks do a fair, balanced job of covering our religious heritage and its influence on our nation's Founders. You may have heard a lot of negative media hoopla about the textbook coverage of Moses and the Ten Commandments. Read the following TEKS as well as sample textbook content and decide for yourself.
Required TEKS for U.S. Government course:
- History. The student understands how constitutional government, as developed in America and expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the U.S. Constitution, has been influenced by ideas, people, and historical documents.
The student is expected to: 1 (C) identify the individuals whose principles of laws and government institutions informed the American founding documents, including those of Moses, William Blackstone, John Locke, and Charles de Montesquieu.
Required TEKS for World History course:
(20) Government. The student understands how contemporary political systems have developed from earlier systems of government. The student is expected to: (B) identify the impact of political and legal ideas contained in the following documents: Hammurabi's Code, the Jewish Ten Commandments, Justinian's Code of Laws, Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen;
Sample content from two U.S. Government textbooks:
One textbook accurately claims, "[The] biblical idea of a covenant, an ancient Jewish term meaning a special kind of agreement between the people and God, influenced the formation of colonial governments and contributed to our constitutional structure."
Another textbook states, “Moses was a lawgiver and a great leader. Like the founders of the United States, he helped establish a legal system to govern his people. The Ten Commandments have been a guide and basis for many legal and moral systems throughout the world.” The annotation to the biography states: “Moses helped establish a legal system, including the Ten Commandments, to govern his people. Similarly, the founders of the United States wrote the Constitution and established a system of laws to govern Americans. They were also part of a tradition that was familiar with the Ten Commandments as a guide for moral behavior.”
I decided to do some more research and learned that this information is historically accurate and is supported on the Library of Congress website under “Religion and the Founding of the American Republic.” It is important to note that Moses, a revered figure in Christianity, Judaism and Islam, is openly honored as a lawgiver in many of our nation’s most public governmental buildings, including inside the U. S. Supreme Court, the Ronald Reagan Transportation Building, the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and the U. S. Capitol, among others. In fact, over the gallery doors of the U. S. House Chamber there are twenty-three marble relief portraits of the world’s greatest lawgivers, including Lycurgus, Solon, Maimonides, Hammurabi, Gregory IX, Justinian I, Papinian, Gaius, Innocent III, Tribonian, Suleiman, Alfonso X, Hugo Grotius, Edward I, Simon de Montfort, Sir William Blackstone, Robert Joseph Pothier, Jean Baptiste Colbert, Saint Louis, Napoleon I, George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, and Moses.
In the eastern half of the chamber, eleven profiles face left and the eleven in the western half face right. This was so that all of them look towards the full-face relief of Moses in the center of the north wall. The Architect of the Capitol website states, “The subjects of the reliefs were chosen by scholars from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia Historical Society of Washington, D.C., in consultation with authoritative staff members of the Library of Congress. The selection was approved by a special committee of five Members of the House of Representatives and the Architect of the Capitol.”
Obviously Moses is given great credit as a lawmaker who influenced the authors of many American founding documents.
Pressure from the Other Side
Here are a couple of examples to show you what we were up against. On November 19, board members received a letter signed by 52 professors (from colleges such as SMU, UT, The University of Mary Washington) that said:
"These and similar passages mislead students about the nature of the religious influence on our founding and directly contradict scholarly consensus in our fields. They distort the legacy of our Founders and major Biblical figures by misrepresenting their ideas and actions. The opportunity to educate our nation's students comes with a responsibility to treat students and our nation's past with respect. We take this responsibility seriously. By eliminating the exaggerations and inventions in your textbooks about the influence of religion on our founding, you can demonstrate that you take this responsibility seriously as well. We ask that you revise your proposed materials to make them historically accurate and faithful to mainstream scholarship in our fields."
At the board’s September public hearing, a disgruntled testifier from a Texas university said that information in some of the textbooks made Moses sound like he was a “Founding Father.” That phrase was picked up in the press and before you know it, the SBOE was being accused of requiring that Moses be taught as a Founding Father. Falsehoods like that are very frustrating but it is up to me, as your elected official, to stay focused on the real issues at hand. While gossip and rumors swirled, I continued to review comments from dedicated volunteers who were diligently reviewing the books and had been doing so for months. These volunteers found hundreds of errors. Amazingly, publishers corrected many of them although there were others that the publishers did not agree were errors.
Texans Rose Up to Take a Stand
Knowing that the board was being pressured by liberal groups and by mostly inaccurate media coverage, citizens across Texas rose up to take a stand to help us! After receiving thousands of e-mails and calls from moms, dads, grandparents, teachers, and other citizens, it was obvious how they wanted accurate history in our children’s textbooks. As one parent put it, “History and our religious heritage should not be deleted. Important lessons are learned from these core values that our country was founded on and will help to teach our children about moral excellence which our society greatly needs. History is history!”
Allow me a moment to comment. We must continue to fight for our students to learn the truth about our country’s founding as a constitutional republic. They must learn about its victories and struggles to achieve and maintain freedom. Has it always been pretty? Of course not, and our students must learn about those parts of our history as well. Hopefully we can all learn from past mistakes. With that said, the students in classrooms today are our future citizens and leaders. If we don’t stand up against those in academia who promote anti-American sentiments, how will our students be equipped to lead our country in the future? Will they be willing to courageously unite together in times of trouble? Will they love their country enough to fight for its ideals and for the common good? Will they remember the heroic sacrifices made by their forefathers for the freedoms they enjoy? These are thought provoking questions but we must face them head-on and be ever watchful about what is taught in our nation’s classrooms, including college classrooms.
Thank you for your interest and passion for the education of our children. By working together, we have brought about positive change in the approved history textbooks that will be purchased in the great state of Texas! (*Note, I must remind you that in 2011 the legislature passed SB 6 which lifted the requirement that all publishers submit their textbooks to the state review process in order to be purchased with state funds. The SBOE approved over 80 history textbooks but many others bypassed the review process. Those publishers are selling their unvetted textbooks directly to school districts. With your help, we may be able to address some of that in the upcoming legislative session.)
For those of you who either prayed for me or testified or sent a message to the board, your help was needed and appreciated! I cannot do this alone. It is a privilege to work with you in the fight to ensure that accurate accounts of our country's history are preserved and passed down to future generations.
Have a joyous Christmas and a Happy New Year!
For our children,
Chair, State Board of Education
Please forward this e-mail to parents, teachers, administrators, and others who have an interest in education.
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