Gail Lowe, chair of the Texas State Board of Education, is making the rounds promoting the state’s new social studies curriculum standards. And she’s making clear the political agenda she and other far-right board members are promoting in those standards:
“Our country was founded on religious principles … and our students will know that. . . . I think the [Founding Fathers] fully intended that our government would not separate church and state.”
We’re curious. At what point while editing your weekly newspaper, Ms. Lowe, did you decide you know more about the Constitution than the United States Supreme Court or know more about the intentions of the Founders than scholars who have spent their careers researching our nation’s history?
As reported in the same article from the University of North Texas students newspaper, Lowe also addressed the board’s treatment of Thomas Jefferson in the social studies standards:
“We never proposed taking Jefferson out of the curriculum. We just didn’t want to add him to world history… [but] we conceded in the end.”
Well, that’s true. Lowe and other board members wanted to remove Jefferson, who championed separation of church and state as essential to religious freedom, from a world history standard requiring students to study important Enlightenment thinkers who influenced political revolutions after 1750. They relented in the end, but only after eliminating that reference to the Enlightenment and adding theologians Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin to the list of thinkers students should study. Now this particular requirement in the standards is essentially meaningless.
This also caught our eye:
“Nancy Nelson, chairwoman of the department of teacher education and administration [at the University of North Texas], said the curriculum changes have faced a lot of scrutiny.
“It depends on where you stand politically and religiously,” Nelson said.
That’s precisely the problem. The state’s public school curriculum should be based on facts and sound scholarship, not the political and religious agendas of state board politicians or anyone else.