13 March 2010

remember Jefferson? Jefferson who? go ask Texas


  image of the Jefferson Memorial here

"Its soul, its climate, its equality, liberty, laws, people, and manners. 
My god! how little do my countrymen 
know what precious blessings they are in possession of, 
and which no other people on earth enjoy!"

 image from the Library of Congress


The Texas Board of Education has  removed Thomas Jefferson and the influence of the Enlightenment from the Texas curriculum, "replacing him with religious right icon John Calvin."

from AP reporter April Castro
AUSTIN, Texas — A far-right faction of the Texas State Board of Education succeeded Friday in injecting conservative ideals into social studies, history and economics lessons that will be taught to millions of students for the next decade.
Teachers in Texas will be required to cover the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers, but not highlight the philosophical rationale for the separation of church and state. Curriculum standards also will describe the U.S. government as a "constitutional republic," rather than "democratic," and students will be required to study the decline in value of the U.S. dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard.
Following three days of impassioned and acrimonious debate, the board gave preliminary approval to the new standards with a 10-5 party line vote. A final vote is expected in May, after a public comment period that could produce additional amendments and arguments.- April Castro AP reporter

Board member Cynthia Dunbar wants to change a standard having students study the impact of Enlightenment ideas on political revolutions from 1750 to the present. She wants to drop the reference to Enlightenment ideas (replacing with “the writings of”) and to Thomas Jefferson. She adds Thomas Aquinas and others. Jefferson’s ideas, she argues, were based on other political philosophers listed in the standards.

The board approves the amendment, taking Thomas Jefferson OUT of the world history standards.

Here is what the Library of Congress says about Jefferson’s influence: “Recognized in Europe as the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson quickly became a focal point or lightning rod for revolutionaries in Europe and the Americas.” The Library of Congress notes, in particular, Jefferson’s influence on revolutionaries in France (including on the Declaration of the Rights of Man), other European nations, South America and Haiti.

No Declaration of Independence?

image from here

University of Virginia ?
Non existent?

University of Virginia image from here

Enlighten the people generally, and
tyranny and oppressions of the body
and mind will vanish like the evil spirits
at the dawn of the day.

Thomas Jefferson

No West? 
there goes Texas-

image of the West here


image of Jefferson's first sketch of Monticello here

No Enlightenment?

Monticello Library image from here

Jefferson- to ENLIGHTENED for TEXAS? Can you imagine life without his influences? America without  his influence? Texas can-

image of Mount Rushmore here

TFN Blogging about the Social Studies Debate here
Jefferson here


  1. I've been thinking about this all day. I'm sick, but my first reaction was, "Why teach separation of church and state? It won't exist by the time these children are adults." Wrong, I'm sure, but this is so disturbing.

  2. Hi Dear Little Augury-

    As they say on FACEBOOK, 'like'.

    Such an original and thought-provoking feature, beautifully illustrated.

    Cheers and onward, DIANE

  3. I say LA, great post (made more vivid by such charged images). I was about to write something snide about the Great State, but on reflection decided not to. This is very depressing, and far more serious than a clever crack. Our country is being taken over by cretins and we are allowing this to happen. The organization of the fundamentalist, history-rewriting extremists is extraordinary and their intention is insidious. It is time for those of us who object to do so, rather than sitting back and presuming that "reason" will prevail. Here's a clear cut case where that hasn't happened...again.

  4. What really is happening here is very obvious. They are preparing to succeed. They are rewriting their history to fit their new country.

    There can't be any other plausible explanation unless they are all a bunch of idiots. Oh, well I guess there is that option.

  5. Where are the rest of the Texans while their educational system is overrun? Unfortunately, most people don't spend all day thinking about how to block fundamentalist radicals who spend years plotting how to twist minds. This may have to end up in a court system, but our courts are pretty twisted themselves these days. Calvin instead of Jefferson? Really? Even the libertarians might find things to say about this. Certainly, if textbook companies feel they can shove these revisions down the throats of the rest of the country, they have another think coming. Not all Christians are Calvinist, not all religions are Christian, and not all Americans illiterate.

  6. LA,

    Having been a Texas resident for many years, and current Kansas resident, I can’t say I am surprised by this. Lord knows we have had the same issues here. We just spent several hours Friday night listening to Thomas Frank, author of “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” and viewing the documentary of the same name, directed by Joe Winston and Lauren Cohen. In my fight to remain optimistic about our current state of affairs, what with the Supreme Court making corporations “a real boy” and these persistent croppings up of the dumbing down of educational standards, whether they be scientific or historical, I cannot discern what keeps people voting against their own interests.

    Two apropos quotes from Frank’s book:

    On the disconnect: “American conservatism depends for its continued dominance and even for its very existence on people never making certain mental connections about the world, connections that until recently were treated as obvious or self-evident everywhere on the planet. For example, the connection between mass culture, most of which conservatives hate, and laissez-faire capitalism, which they adore without reservation. Or between the small towns they profess to love and the market forces that are slowly grinding those towns back into the red-state dust-which forces they praise to the most exalted terms.”

    On the move away from the state’s progressive past: “Out here the gravity of discontent pulls in only one direction: to the right, to the right, farther to the right. Strip today’s Kansans (substitute any state) of their job security, and they head out to become registered Republicans. Push them off their land, and next thing you know, they’re protesting in front of abortion clinics. Squander their life savings on manicures for the CEO, and there’s a good chance they’ll join the John Birch Society. But ask them about the remedies their ancestors proposed (unions, antitrust, public ownership), and you might as well be referring to the days when knighthood was in flower.”


  7. LA,

    Firstly, thank you for this wonderful blog and, indeed, this post. I first read on this particular topic in the NY Times Magazine. As a Jefferson devotee and a citizen, this nauseates me. Here are a few quotes from TJ's Notes on the State of Virginia - Chapter 17 Religion apt to the matter at hand..

    "Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons. And why subject it to coercion? To produce uniformity. But is uniformity of opinion desireable? [...] Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a Censor morum over each other. Is uniformity [of opinion] attainable? Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites."


  8. Well done you starting this vital debate. Let your enlightened blogging friends shine a strong light into the dark murk of this bigotry.

  9. I would appreciate all the continued updating on various blogs to what is going on with this-pgt

  10. Please update me on this........it is now nearing the election......Where are the polls now?'
    Are you sure that Mr. Romney will not prevail and set all women's causes back a century?


    Please keep us posted!





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