We’ll say this for the folks at the far-right Liberty Institute in Plano: they do a very good job of lying to their own members. The latest example is an e-mail blast to LI members today about the State Board of Education and the revision of social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools. The e-mail repeats a litany of distortions the far-right group has been pushing since last year, including that liberal curriuclum writers supposedly didn’t want students to learn about Christmas, important patriotic holidays and even astronaut Neil Armstrong.
Never mind, of course, that the manufactured “controversy” about Christmas was little more than a fundraising gimmick for far-right groups like LI, the Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family. Moreover, it was Peter Marshall — one of the absurdly unqualified evangelical conservatives far-right state board members put on an “expert” panel for the curriculum revision — who insisted that Neil Armstrong be removed from a key curriculum standard. We could go on, but you get the point.
But the LI e-mail trumps even that nonsense in a sneering rejection of the common-sense notion that the state board stop dismissing the concerns of academic experts who — unlike board members themselves — actually know what they’re talking about when it comes to history, government, economics and other social studies classes:
“Austin liberal groups (not SBOE members) and liberal academia think that Texans don’t know what’s best for their kids. . . . They say they only want ‘credentialed’ people to decide, which means parents and common sense teachers are not welcome.”
“Credentialed people”? Horrors. Can’t have that, right? (We like how LI puts “credentialed” in quotation marks, as if real credentials are somehow meaningless.)
Of course, no one has suggested that Texans don’t know what’s best for their kids or that parents “are not welcome.” Actually, we think parents are increasingly (and rightly) concerned by what’s happening on the state board. That’s a big reason why four of five religious-right candidates went down to defeat in Republican nominating battles for the board this year.
Parents realize that the real problem is too many state board members have repeatedly put their personal and political agendas ahead of the interests of schoolchildren. In fact, those board members have spent the last three years shredding the long, hard work of teachers, academics and education specialists in developing sound curriuclum standards for language arts, science and now social studies.
And what’s the line about “common sense teachers” all about? Truth is, LI and far-right members of the state board have shown little more than contempt for classroom teachers, suggesting that they’re “leftists” who want to undermine patriotism and attack Christianity. Moreover, the state board itself rejected a proposal last November that teachers (as well as academic experts) be on hand to advise board members as they debated the social studies standards in January and March. As a result, we saw the board make one reckless, ill-informed decision after another as they vandalized the standards.
Look, we long ago gave up expecting the Liberty Institute to stop lying to the public. But we can’t figure out why the group’s own supporters tolerate being manipulated and told the same lies over and over again — especially when the facts are easy to gather.