Once again, the Texas affiliate of the far-right group Focus on the Family is having trouble getting its facts straight. This week the group is criticizing “the media and Austin liberals” for “distorting” the debate over the State Board of Education’s revision of social studies curriculum standards for public schools. The group is urging that the state board keep the names of “many notable figures in Texas and American History” in the new social studies standards, including Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon.
Well, we don’t know any “Austin liberals” who want Armstrong removed from the standards. And TFN doesn’t want him out either. So perhaps it would be better for far-right pressure groups to direct their criticism toward their own ranks — and there’s a good reason for that.
See, it was actually the Rev. Peter Marshall — the absurdly unqualified ideologue appointed by the state board’s religious-right faction to a panel of so-called “experts” — who recommended dropping Armstrong from a history standard listing “famous inventors and scientists.” He did so when he reviewed the current standards, which have been in place for more than a decade.
In fact, Marshall called the standard’s original list of scientists, including Armstrong, “pathetic.” “The only ones worthy of inclusion are George Washington Carver and Thomas Edison,” he wrote. Then he suggested adding a number of other names, including Henry Ford and Alexander Graham Bell, but not Armstrong. And guess what? The curriculum writers took Marshall’s advice, dropping those he wanted out and adding those he wanted in. (Click here for an archive of drafts, reviews and other documents from the curriculum revision process.)
Now far-right groups who support Marshall’s status as an “expert” are complaining and pointing fingers at others. It’s hard to take these critics seriously when they simply don’t know what they’re talking about. Of course, they really don’t care anyway. They’re just trying to poison the process so that it will be easier to politicize what our children learn in their social studies classrooms. After all, they tried the same thing with their phony “war on Christmas” hysteria a couple of weeks ago. It’s all part of the same charade.