Texas Board of Education: Making Their Own History

After months of wrangling, and highlighted by several days of acrimonious debate and political stupidity, the Texas State Board of Education passed a new set of curriculum standards yesterday.

There are… um… some problems.

The standard for studying the Age of Enlightenment, for example, will no longer include Thomas Jefferson. Lucky young Texans will instead include the philosophical contributions of Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin. (Eh?) From a liveblog at Texas Freedom Network:

9:45 – Here’s the amendment Dunbar changed: “explain the impact of Enlightenment ideas from John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Thomas Jefferson on political revolutions from 1750 to the present.” Here’s Dunbar’s replacement standard, which passed: “explain the impact of the writings of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and Sir William Blackstone.” Not only does Dunbar’s amendment completely change the thrust of the standard. It also appalling drops one of the most influential political philosophers in American history — Thomas Jefferson.

The Board also “rejected lessons about why the United States was founded on the principle of religious freedom”, while adding “references to “laws of nature and nature’s God” in lessons about major political ideas”. Students must study,

The strong Judeo-Christian influences on the nation’s Founding Fathers, but there will be no coverage of the Bill of Rights “Establishment Clause” that was used to outlaw school-sponsored prayer and affirm separation of church and state in the U.S.

There were heated debates (and walk-outs) on subjects as wide-ranging as memorizing who died at the Alamo based on ancestry, to whether standards should include the cultural influence of hip-hop (they already learn about the Beat Generation). And there were some real jaw-droppers as well:

References to Ralph Nader and Ross Perot are proposed to be removed, while Stonewall Jackson, the Confederate general, is to be listed as a role model for effective leadership, and the ideas in Jefferson Davis’s inaugural address are to be laid side by side with Abraham Lincoln’s speeches.

Also: did you know that capitalism is a bad word? Apparently it is here in Texas. I had no idea — but luckily the young folks here will be saved from any degradation; that dirty word will be replaced with “free enterprise”.

Sigh… Since my Adorable Child will be entering high school next year, our impending relocation out of Texas seems all the more timely.

Not everything, however, is necessarily incorrect. Here’s one change, for example, that strikes me as worth discussion. From USA Today:

• [The Board] Struck the word “democratic” in references to the form of U.S. government and replaced it with “constitutional republic.”

Here’s how Wikipedia defines Constitutional Republic:

A constitutional republic is a state where the head of state and other officials are elected as representatives of the people, and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government‘s power over citizens.

In a constitutional republic, executive, legislative, and judicial powers are separated into distinct branches and the will of the majority of the population is tempered by protections for individual rights so that no individual or group has absolute power.

That sounds just like the US to me, but the nature of our government is often described somewhat differently — usually as a democracy — and that’s a tad misleading. Clarifying with “representative democracy” is better (but I rarely see that).

Myself, I think Texas’ new standard is correct. What say you?



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  1. “Next time they start talking secession, the rest of the States should give them a hand and shove them out the door to fend in the big wide world on their own…”

    Oh, yes.  That was true for the (brief) wailing from liberals after the 2004 election, moved from horror that Americans not only elected, but relelected, George W. Bush.  (Lesson missed: Next time, run some serious opposition, nothing so far left it's an act bet on losing an election.)  They were so lightweight not one of them expressed interest in the obvious real-world option, seceding in New England, the upper Great Lakes area, and the heart of the Cascadian region (coastal Oregon and Washington, west of the Pacific Crest, the populous West Coast wet side of the mountains, the part of the West where water is abundant and excessive rather than scarce like the rest of the West) and seek to join Canada.

    Anyone really leaving has to really leave — not “divorce with bedroom privileges” sillier Quebec stuff where any question is a “clear question on secession” in a referendum and any result valid, even if highly error-ridden or fradulent; these people want Quebec to be “separate” but retain the use of Canadian currency (even having a Quebecois presence on the Canadian central bank!) as well as Canadian citizenship(! — no doubt Canadian entitlements as well!).

    You're one of the better (in fact, one of the best) people who has competence and interest in major reforms and “re-designs” of all kinds (constitutional, other governmental or systemic, economic) and you probably would know — secession wouldn't mean guaranteed retention of current territories and boundaries, and another of the many issues requiring negotation and settlement would be assumption by Texas or other Red Nation secessionists (just as if Blue Nation departed in large part after 2004) of the federal debt.  Most debt and misspending is due to entitlements, and this would heavily place the burden on Blue Nation.  But — as you know, fully well, Mr. Don Q — there is the issue of where all federal money has been spent, and compensation for not only federal money spent but on federal assets (actually a separate issue, but related to spending).  What is the value of all the Western water projects?  The water consumed by agriculture as well
    as the booming cities' residential and industrial users?  What is the value, not only of the physical assets but of all the hydropower to come from Glen Canyon, Hoover, Grand Coulee Dam, and so on? Repayment to the USA would be due upon secession from these.  Do they really want to go — and think they can get away with it without paying?

  2. Have fun, Don, dealing with one of the modern phenemonena in this country, which has been no surprise to the observant at all, that involves the South you dislike so much.

    It's about one piece of news from the modern auto industry in this country, which is in the South and often features Asian and European automakers' assembly plants.  (The Europeans in part put their plants here to save on bloated at-home excess labor costs!)  Our auto headquarters is in Nashville, not Detroit.  (Design should belong in our natinons' cultural capital and capital above all others easily for auto culture, southern California.  Detroit's automakers have been stupid not to have housed design there since at least 1980.  This should have been an evolutionary step undertaken in the 1970s.)

    “To hear the rhetoric wafting down from Capitol Hill of late, you'd think that Toyota, Hyundai, BMW and the rest are as all-American as Mom and apple pie. And, in many ways, they now are.”

    [someone possibly "discovering" this decades late -- We Americans, particularly those of us in California, the auto culture capital, knew this in the 1980s.]

    “Today's Southern solons have watched their local economies blossom thanks to a younger, more-vibrant auto industry unencumbered by the Big Three's legacy costs and union work rules—a sort of anti-Detroit that has the flexibility and ability to turn profits by making the types of cars that Americans actually want to buy.”

    “[T]he states in the Southeast had plenty to offer—large tracts of undeveloped land with road, rail, air and sea access, fewer snow days[,] and federally subsidized power from the Tennessee Valley Authority.”

    “Above all, these states had longstanding cultures that made it difficult for unions to organize.”


    [something that hasn't gone unnoticed in Michigan]

    [If we have a carbon, energy, or motor vehicle fuel tax, increasing transportation costs, what will that do?  During the brief run-up of oil prices near the start of our recent and current slump, at least one Michigan company closed one of its facilities in Nebraska because of higher transportation costs.  What will that do for the relocation of industry -- not limited to the auto industry -- to the South?]

    “As discussed in the paper, 'The Market Renewal of Major Automotive Manufacturing Facilities in Traditional Automotive Communities', most of a firm’s recurring costs fall into one of three categories: freight, labor, and utility costs.”
    “Automobile manufacturers prefer to build vehicles close to their primary markets, to 
    reduce the cost of shipping finished vehicles to their customers.”
    “The six southern states’ population increased by 19.7 percent, while the northern states increased by only 7.7 percent in the same decade.”
    “With the cost of moving freight into and out of a manufacturing facility one of the main factors contributing to the cost of a finished vehicle, the transplants wanted to build vehicles close to their customers in order to reduce those costs. Due to this period of expanding market share, and rapid population growth of the southern half of the U.S., it only made sense to build more motor vehicles in this region of the country.”
    “In his book, Rubenstein explains that the Japanese owned manufacturers strived to find communities that are far away from the nearest auto plant, where residents are likely to hold non-union attitudes, and the local workforce is well-educated.” “There appears to be scant evidence that auto companies are locating facilities in the south based chiefly on the size of incentive packages. In fact, incentives don’t seem to enter the equation until the site selection has been reduced to choosing between two or three communities, which are almost always in the same region. Instead, there are fundamental changes occurring in the auto industry and the population growth patterns of the country that are affecting the location of new manufacturing facilities. States, provinces, and communities have little control over these changes that are affecting the core business model of the industry.
    Evidence indicates that the industry is going through a 'right-sizing' of its regional and North American capacity, with traditional domestic automakers firmly entrenched in north central U.S., and southern Ontario—a region that is growing slowly at the same time the domestic automakers are collectively losing market share. Meanwhile, the transplant companies are predominantly locating in the southern regions of the country, at the same time their aggregate market share continues to grow. As long as the transplant companies continue to take market share market share away from the traditional domestic manufacturers, and the population of the southern part of the country keeps on growing, the movement of high-paying automotive jobs south is likely to continue.”


  3. On my drive today from Atlanta to Gulf Shores, AL I passed numerous Asian automotive suppliers and assembly plants, including Hyundai in Montgomery, Kia in West Point, GA and some other Korean companies in very rural areas. The same phenomenon is true in East TN where I live – Denso is a major employer.

    The worry in the South is that these employers will act as neo-colonialists – use us for the cheap land and labor and then leave for Honduras when the inevitable rise in land and labor costs in the South makes the initial investment look less profitable (or, ironically, a return to Midwestern brownfield sites with the old unions gone). The smarter people here recognize that what the Asian auto suppliers have done is give us an infusion of capital to invest in education so that when Kia inevitably flees for cheaper shores we will at least have a top notch education system that will produce workers prepared for high-tech work. It's basically the Research Triangle model. With RTP it was the universities that made the big investment in the 1950s but today it's the foreign auto suppliers.

    If we can leverage, say, the money from Volkswagen's new Chattanooga plant toward improving Tennessee's abysmal public schools (we're ranked 49th) then it will be a very good thing.

    As for the Texas thing I have very strong feelings about this issue as a whole – I'm a historian by profession – but I haven't read enough detail regarding the specific changes to really comment.

  4. Hey, there, Elrod — enjoy those Southern Highlands and the gateway to them.  (Knoxville into Kentucky by itself is a fabulous route, with multiple-razorback-ridge views from one section.)

    “The worry in the South is that these employers will act as neo-colonialists – use us for the cheap land and labor and then leave for Honduras when the inevitable rise in land and labor costs in the South makes the initial investment look less profitable (or, ironically, a return to Midwestern brownfield sites with the old unions gone).”

    Well, even prior to that there was the realization that money made from those companies (profits) would probably find their way back to Japan (now other countries as well, China next, of course).

    At least so long as transport costs are substantial, there might be a chance for retention. That's especially so as the likely relocation is to China in theory, not to Latin America (losses of jobs there to China is probably one of the major reasons Latins are coming here to find work!).

    If higher oil prices force transport costs higher (or a fuel or energy or carbon tax does here), it might keep things actually safer here for now.  (That or much higher tariffs on vehicles produced elsewhere.)

    * * *

    “As for the Texas thing I have very strong feelings about this issue as a whole – I'm a historian by profession”

    East Texas (the core of the state) is humid, Eastern — Southern on steroids, in a way, like New York is for New England-Mid Atlantic less so; that part of Texas is big-time Bible Belt country like other parts of the South (including eastern Oklahoma) and the front range.  Note that retiring easterners who don't go to Florida will probably go to Georgia, South Carolina, or (lesser extent until it's discovered by more) Alabama rather than go to Texas, even where winters are obviously milder than the mainland north of the Florida Peninsula.

  5. My gawd, Dubya & Turd Blossom go home and the next thing you know Texas is wanting to secede, kick ole Tom Jefferson out of the history books and teach Adam n Eve lived in San Antonio. I guess next they'll be running off the families of Texas' founders.

  6. “Rich white men could never and would never have been able to do it on their own.”

    You have been promoted to Captain Obvious.
    What in the world does this have to do with anything.

    No one (especially me) has said that immigrants and slave labor (even my ancestors who were WHITE indentured slaves) had no hand in the building of this nation. They absolutely did.

    What is your point, Kat?

  7. “white men”

    Discriminatory behavior toward and hatred (not merely bigotry) toward this group is PC approved and promoted. The worst sewage on far-left radio talk shows includes angry mention of them when the person talking is especially upset or otherwise in a position to be so revealing.

  8. Funny enough, we have a term for Northerners who retire to Florida and then come “halfway back” to East Tennessee – we call them “half backers.” Most are from the Midwest – Michigan, Ohio and Illinois in particular. I always identify them with their incredible disappearing Southern accent. Living in East TN they've naturally picked up a subtle twang. But when they encounter another non-East TN native the twang immediately disappears.

    Good ole' FDR and his TVA did more than anything else to encourage these recreation-minded retirees to the region. We are the #3 boating city in America after San Diego and Ft. Lauderdale.

  9. Elrod,

    “Half-backers” made the news some time ago.  Let me see if I can dig up the news story about them.

    Nope, but here's an up-to-date article.


    I'll keep your note in mind when considering how many will ultimately reside in the Blister Belt and on the Florida peninsula.

    Me, in the East, I'd actually prefer to be up in the mainland, rather than Florida, up (north) enough so that I was in the deciduous forest (of course!) rather than in the southern pines (lowlands, not mountain peak spruce-fir).  However, if I ended up unable to tolerate the cold in winter I'd consider Florida — I like the Gulf side of the peninsula: Tampa-St. Pete for major metro, Sarasota for something smaller.

    By the way, I know Tennessee is a top retirement spot and I enjoyed going through there and Kentucky on typical (!) day trips from Atlanta.  North Carolina (including the mountains) still is overlooked, too, probably, especially here in the West (not only the West Coast).

    Also, related to this: Those parts of the declining Blue Nation Snow Belt that have winters people are going to be fleeing but also good scenery – may turn out to be good part-time summer vacation homes.  Can you imagine more summer homes someday near the Finger Lakes, or in New Hampshire and Vermont (as well as Maine)?  And in Michigan (who thinks of itself as the nation's boating capital, even though it's only seasonal)?  Wisconsin (which is gorgeous)?  I can.

    For an interesting pair of Eastern homes, I'd have a summer home in west Cleveland (Lakewood) enjoying the Lake breezes, and in winter I'd be on a boat in Sarasota Bay or in a condo overlooking it (much cheaper than Longboat Key across the bay).

    * * *

    “Good ole' FDR and his TVA did more than anything else to encourage these recreation-minded retirees to the region. We are the #3 boating city in America after San Diego and Ft. Lauderdale.”

    I'm back in the West, and most of it (notably the rest of it other than the West Coast) resents being still treated as a colony of the federal government, but the West owes its modern existence (being able to attain “critical mass” in some metros) to the federal government, for settlement and transportation and yes, for water.  Oh, and hydropower.  TVA is indeed the model (and some wish Washington hadn't stopped with TVA but done the same for at least the Missouri River area) and even really conservative Linda Smith, who became known after 1994's elections for being hard-core anti-federal-overreach, was strangely silent about doing away with BPA and its dirt-cheap hydropower.  Roll, Columbia…

    (Not that environmentalists don't detest the loss of freely-flowing rivers there or in, say, the Ozarks.  But at least the hydropower did give people in the Tennessee Valley a kick-start toward modernity, even if later on TVA went to coal and nuclear when it ran out of hydropower sites.  Imagine a modern TVA and rural electrification for a Congo River project to kick-start in-decline Sub-Saharan Africa.)

    Grand Inga alone would help transform that continent.


  10. DLS,
    Interesting…and I thought “half-backer” was some clever local invention.

    One of the big problems with TVA-style projects is how easily they lend themselves to corruption. There are some great pictures of Nehru at Norris Dam before he brought the TVA idea home to India. African nations have tried major dam projects for years. The Chinese just dammed up the Yangtze. They often end up as boondoggles for some while dispossessing millions of others. And I run into people all the time whose families lost land because of TVA. “They wrote it all down to the progress of man…” I think it was right in the end, despite the costs. Note that East TN Whigs were pushing for something like TVA since the 1820s when they discovered how hard it was to navigate the Tennessee River past Chattanooga.

    Michigan and Upstate NY have marketed themselves as summer vacation destinations for years. The problem is that tourism doesn't employ the same number of people as rust belt industry. But I see it as historically inevitable that Michigan's population drop closer to its 19th century total – the big automotive age is over. Even where it has taken hold in the South it will never employ the levels of people it did back in the 1950s-60s.

    One of my biggest beefs with small-government conservatism as a whole is the failure among many of its proponents to recognize how much of their own wealth is directly tied to some massive Federal government spending project of one sort or another. That's not an excuse to spend willy-nillly. But it certainly takes some of the ideological bite out. But hey, the first small government conservatives in the Early Republic – Jeffersonian/Jacksonian Democrats – may have hated Henry Clay-style big government but they sure loved a US-army led war for more land in the West.

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