Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Texas History Standards

I suppose I should say something about the newly adopted Texas history standards. But what I can do except express outrage? Obviously, it's horrible, but that's been said about 500 times across the progressive intertubes in the last few days.

I do have a few more general thoughts.

1. The real lesson here is not about the history standards themselves. It's to again remind me how much better conservatives are at organizing than progressives. Conservatives have always known that the way to change is to take over local political institutions. In the 1950s, they started taking over school boards and other local offices no one wanted. They built up from there, getting Goldwater nominated for the presidency in 1964, getting Reagan elected to the governorship of California in 1966, and then raising Grandpa Caligula to the presidency in 1980.

Meanwhile, progressives run Ralph Nader for president.

Texas has taken on extremist versions of history not primarily because the state is crazy (thought this is mostly true), but because conservatives have taken over the Texas Board of Education. They knew the way to make the changes they wanted wasn't to talk about it online, but to simply run for the board. And now we aren't talking about Thomas Jefferson in Texas schools anymore.

2. Do students actually learn from textbooks? I've never felt them to be effective. I don't even use them. I guess if I'm teaching high school, I'm going to have to assign the mandated textbook, but I'm certainly not going to follow it or even look at it. Ideally, all history teachers would know enough to teach the class without using the textbook. Obviously that's not the case. But it should be.

3. I'm pointing my real anger over this issue at myself. As for the standards themselves, I'm more resigned and depressed. But I knew 8 months ago that this would be a great issue for me to follow. I only live 30 minutes from Austin and I could attend the meetings. But I'm busy and teaching and applying for jobs and working on my book, etc., etc. And so I didn't really get as involved as I should of.

And then it became a super hot story.

It could have done a lot for me and for this blog. But I dropped the ball.

And that's why I'm the blogging equivalent of a 27 year old relief pitcher in the South Atlantic League.