The battle over the curriculum in Texas public schools has shifted from the science lab to the history classroom.
As Texas educators gather later this summer to write new social studies standards for Texas public schools, some suggestions they will consider will be those written by an individual whose historical claims have been discredited.
David Barton, president of WallBuilders, was among six reviewers chosen by members of the Texas Board of Education to offer suggestions on the K-12 social studies curriculum. His report suggests lessening the emphasis on Anne Hutchinson, Colin Powell, Cesar Chavez and Carl Sagan.
“Cesar Chavez may be a choice representing diversity but he certainly lacks the stature, impact and overall contributions of so many others,” Barton wrote before adding that the civil rights activist should not be considered “praiseworthy” because of ties to influential community organizer Saul Alinsky.
Barton instead urges greater emphasis on Christian teachings. Among the lessons he believes should be taught are that “[t]here is a fixed moral law derived from God and nature,” and that “[t]here is a Creator.”
Barton argued during the June 29 broadcast of his “WallBuilders Live!” radio program that changing the educational standards in Texas could impact the textbooks that are adopted in other states as well. He encouraged his listeners to get involved with their own state’s textbook standards process.
Peter Marshall, a Christian minister, was also among those chosen by board members to review the curriculum. He argues that the coursework should teach various concepts that reflect “the biblical influence on American government.” He claims that “it is simply not up to acceptable academic standards” that the current curriculum does not talk more about “the influence of the Christian faith in the founding of America.”
“We’re in an all-out moral and spiritual civil war for the soul of America, and the record of American history is right at the heart of it,” Marshall said about the importance of rewriting the social studies curriculum.
Marshall suggested removing several historical figures from the current texts, such as Anne Hutchinson, Cesar Chavez, Thurgood Marshall, Amelia Earhart, Neil Armstrong and Carl Sagan. Marshall also wants attention given to the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade.
The reviews offered by Barton and Marshall have sparked criticism from numerous history professors. Some argue that only trained historians should be chosen as curriculum analysts, which would eliminate both Barton and Marshall. Other reviewers include an out-of-state professor of public affairs, two history professors in Texas, and a professor from a Texas university education department.
Reviewer Lybeth Hodges, a Texas Woman’s University history professor, argued in response to the reviews, “There appears to me too much politics in some of this.”
Barton’s suggestions on what to teach Texas children about history will be considered despite problems with some of his past claims about history, including unverifiable quotations he used to support some of his historical claims.
Barton has admitted that several quotations he used as historical evidence could not be proved to be accurate. Barton had previously used these unsubstantiated quotations in his book “The Myth of Separation.”
The Texas Board of Education recently fought over the teaching of evolution and intelligent design in science courses. Barton supported a school board member at the center of that controversy. He also testified before the U.S. Congress denying that global warming is a problem.
Brian Kaylor is a contributing editor to EthicsDaily.com.