Texas Ed. Board Updates Curriculum: Thomas Jefferson's Back!
It's been a little more than two months since we last told you about the Texas State Board of Education's efforts to rewrite American history. After adding Phyllis Schafly and Newt Gingrich to the curriculum and deemphasizing the Civil Rights movement, the SBOE convened for its final meetings of the year this weeek —and since several of the Board's most conservative members are either not running for reelection or lost primary challenges, it amounts to something of a last hurrah; think the '97 Bulls meets the Christian Coalition.
So how'd it go? Depends on how you feel about our commander in chief's middle name, I guess. In one of the punchiest discussions of the week, Board members shot down an amendment late last night that would have revised the discussion of our first black president to refer to "Barack Hussein Obama." The Texas Tribune's Brian Thevenot, who sat through the proceedings so we didn't have to, captured the full exchange:
[Board member David Bradley] sprang into action. "I'd like to make a motion to insert his middle name, Hussein," he said. Asked why—it was the first time any discussion of any of official's middle name had come up—Bradley played dumb. "He's the president of the United States, and I think we should give him the honor and privilege of his full name"...Some other members were dumbfounded: The Arabic sounding name has been widely used as an epithet in conservative circles and is closely tied to the contention that Obama isn't an American citizen. "I think it's pretty obvious what you're trying to do," said [Board member Bob Craig]. "And I don't think it's correct that we've used the middle names for other presidents." (That was true, [the chairwoman] confirmed shortly later; the board follows whatever style a particular president prefers for his name.)
The amendment was ultimately tabled, but it serves as a pretty good case study for how the nation's most influential school board conducts its business.