During the past week, hundreds of students in Colorado were protesting conservative efforts to infuse their ideology and religion in textbooks for an advanced high school history class. Leave it to Fox to manufacture a vast conspiracy behind a protest that grew from word of mouth and social media.
After all, Fox would like to think these kids couldn’t have figured out for themselves, that when education is shaped to conform with ideology above facts, it’s no longer education. The high school students recognized there is something wrong with textbooks that censor our history to conform with right wing ideology.
They also recognized that sort of education would leave them ill equipped to compete in the modern world, ill-equipped to recognize and question injustices. For the great minds at Fox, it’s impossible for high school students to recognize how nonsensical it is to square the concepts of individual freedom with blind conformity to an authority that respects nothing about the very fabric of America. It was unthinkable that students would protest a concerted effort by the right wing’s ignorance activists to render them defenseless in a war on the mind, the heart and the soul of their future.
Of course, the talking puppets at Fox and Friends blamed the teachers and especially those big bad teachers’ unions who, according to Fox, are “exploiting” the children to advance their own agenda. It isn’t like the Republican Party has anything to gain by teaching students about right wing “heroes” like Phyllis Schafley and Joe McCarthy, while Ted Kennedy and Sonja Sotomayor disappear down revisionist history’s memory hole.
Their guest for the segment was Ken Witt, president of the Jefferson County Board of Education. Mr. Witt started the hysterics rolling when he said:
That’s the unfortunate situation that’s going on. I believe that there is a significant amount of union conflict right now that we would like to not have. The issue is that it’s easy to get children out. It’s easy to use kids as pawns and it’s not right. We have a union contract that’s expiring in August of this year.
Of course, Elisabeth Hasselbeck dutifully responded:
“What concerns me is that what I’m hearing from you, and correct me if I am wrong, is that there is someone else behind this planting it and using these students for their own gain.”
Here is video of the segment, courtesy of Media Matters.
Yes, Elisabeth is so concerned about people with agendas using students for their own gain because it isn’t like high school students are capable of thinking for themselves. After all, poor Elisabeth has yet to develop that skill herself.
Witt went out of his way to dismiss concerns that the revised curriculum would white wash the history of slavery and civil rights. However, there is a sound basis for those concerns and many others, given recent debate in Texas over the content of its textbooks books. Since Texas provides most of America’s textbooks, the quality of their books affects students throughout the country.
A report by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund gives credence to the students’ concerns, no matter how much Witt wishes to deny it.
Among the TFNEF’s findings:
• A number of government and world history textbooks exaggerate Judeo-Christian influence on
the nation’s founding and Western political tradition.
• Two government textbooks include misleading information that undermines the Constitutional
concept of the separation of church and state.
• Several world history and world geography textbooks include biased statements that
inappropriately portray Islam and Muslims negatively.
• All of the world geography textbooks inaccurately downplay the role that conquest played in the
spread of Christianity.
• Several world geography and history textbooks suffer from an incomplete – and often inaccurate
– account of religions other than Christianity.
• A few government and U.S. history textbooks suffer from an uncritical celebration of the free
enterprise system, both by ignoring legitimate problems that exist in capitalism and failing to
include coverage of government’s role in the U.S. economic system.
• One government textbook flirts with contemporary Tea Party ideology, particularly regarding the
inclusion of anti-taxation and anti-regulation arguments.
• One world history textbook includes outdated – and possibly offensive – anthropological
categories and racial terminology in describing African civilizations.
• A number of U.S. history textbooks evidence a general lack of attention to Native American
peoples and culture and occasionally include biased or misleading information.
• One government textbook (Pearson) includes a biased – verging on offensive – treatment of
• Most U.S. history textbooks do a poor job of covering the history of LGBT citizens in discussions of
efforts to achieve civil rights in this country.
• Elements of the Texas curriculum standards give undue legitimacy to neo-Confederate arguments
about “states’ rights” and the legacy of slavery in the South. While most publishers avoid
problems with these issues, passages in a few U.S. history and government textbooks give a nod
to these misleading arguments.
On previous shows, Steve Doocy and Hasselbeck defended students’ rights to think for themselves, at least when it came to deciding on what to have for lunch or whether to read the Bible in an accelerated reading program.
But, Fox doubts that students are capable of thinking about the consequences of learning from history books that preach Tea Party Ideology, distort the role of religion in our constitution and reflect right wing biases on race, sexual orientation and religious freedom. That’s where students magically lose the ability to think for themselves and are mere pawns in a grand scheme by teachers and their unions.
The issue extends beyond the right wing’s attempt to revise history in its ideological image. As reported by U.S. News, the Jefferson County school board wants to create a committee of citizens to decide on materials that promote “citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights.” Moreover, the materials must not ”encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”
Under the Board’s proposed mandate, the committee would have the power to determine which materials fit this criteria in subjects beyond American history. It would be empowered to bring any materials in any course it considers objectionable to the School Board which is empowered to “take action.”
The students recognize it for the censorship that it is and that, is what they are protesting. When you think about it, by protesting, the students in Colorado proved they are way smarter than the average host on Fox and Friends.
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.