Conservatives have made strong efforts in the past few years to rewrite textbooks and brainwash school kids with their own twisted version of history. Mississippi Republicans are the latest to attack education, and they plan to pass a bill in the legislature that would practically ban liberalism in class rooms and in textbooks.
According to the Mississippi Clarion Ledger,House Bill 1384 prohibits educators from teaching what Republicans call “any partisan agenda or philosophy,” but to hear some of them talk about the bill, what it really sounds like is that conservatives want to force instructors to teach history the way they see it.
House Education Committee Chairman John Moore (R) says Republicans are “trying to protect the history of our nation in its purest form,” which would normally sound like an innocent statement until you factor in that Republicans across the country have tried to rewrite textbooks to reflect their own unsupported claims about what the “purest form” of American history is.
According to conservative pseudo-historians, America was founded as a Christian state; slavery had nothing to do with the Civil War but was a good thing; the Civil Rights Movement was a communist movement; states have the right to secede; and the Founding Fathers were all Christians and conservatives. Oh, and they claim liberalism is inherently evil. I knew I missed one. So maybe this is still hard to believe. Well, another GOP lawmaker had this to say.
“Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, a committee member, said she was aware of problems at her daughter’s school. Currie said a teacher took liberal viewpoints when discussing current events assignments, leading her to demand a conference with school authorities. “No matter which side of the coin you’re on, her teacher ended up going toward the liberal end,” Currie told the committee. “I was surprised she made it out of there, still believing the way she was taught at my house.””
Translation: ‘The teacher didn’t teach the class the way I teach my kid.’ It sounds to me that what Republicans really have a problem with is that liberalism is touched upon at school at all. If the teacher had slanted towards a conservative agenda, we wouldn’t even be hearing about this bill. The problem is, this is the word of one parent who also happens to have a political bias. Who is to say that her daughter didn’t just report that her teacher was presenting the Civil Rights Movement or women’s rights or the New Deal, all of which are historical events steeped in the liberal movement of the early 20th Century. Maybe the teacher stated accurately that Franklin Roosevelt is one of America’s greatest Presidents. Who is to say the daughter isn’t just targeting her teacher in an attempt to get him fired? Perhaps Currie is just mad that the teacher didn’t present the events in a negative way like conservatives do.
While conservatives are throwing a hissy fit over the suspicious claims of one biased colleague, the Democrats have a different take on the bill. Democratic Rep. Rufus Straughter says he opposes the bill. “This is a bad bill. It’s unnecessary. Who determines what conservative is, what liberal is?” And Robert Townsend, deputy director of the American Historical Association, doubts the validity of the claims, saying that most history teachers have a hard enough time teaching the amount of material that the state curriculum requires without trying to find the time to inject personal views.
The fact is, this bill is about banning liberal history from being taught. If Republicans have their way, slavery, women’s rights, the Civil Rights Movement, the New Deal, and pretty much all of early 20th Century American history would be ignored or slanted to a conservative viewpoint. In other words, they will be presented in a hateful light. And here’s another point. Let’s say this bill is what the Republicans claim it is. How the hell does a history teacher address the conservative movement of the 1980’s in a non-partisan manner? I guarantee that if the teacher doesn’t glorify that decade, Currie will find out and then whine about it to her colleagues. Then what? Do we then get a law that says ‘teach in a non-partisan way unless you’re discussing Ronald Reagan and all the “good” things conservativism did?
This bill is just plain wrong. It handcuffs teachers and, quite frankly, will cause young people who want to teach the subject to change their mind about teaching. It’s hard enough to teach history as it is, but the way conservatives want to define ‘partisan agenda’ will make it much harder for teachers to do their job because the liberal movement is a part of history. It’s already slanted to the liberal philosophy. The way conservatives think today, even saying that JFK or FDR were two of our greatest leaders could be called partisan. Heck, just using any facts at all is considered partisan. How can history teachers do their jobs if they have to worry about every little thing they say about the subject? If the child of a mindless conservative complains because the teacher talked about Martin Luther King in a positive way, will that lead to the firing of the teacher? This just seems to be a Pandora’s box that Republicans want to open. What Republicans in Mississippi really want to do is water down American history so that what is left is their twisted version of it. It would be as if liberalism never existed.