Monday, October 24, 2011

Feeder 3.3

The text “How Christian Were the Founders?” gives detail about how the different discourse communities (Christians, Jews, housewives, naval officers, professors, and many others) view the teachings of the current social studies curriculum. These people were meeting to give their input on what should be taught. As you would have it, each community is partial to his/her own community’s people. For example, one elderly Hispanic man told the Texas State Board of Education insists, “Please keep Cèsar Chávez.” With each person’s bias, how is the board to decide what goes into the textbooks and what stays out?

Unfortunately, not only are those giving their piece bias, but so are those of the Texas State Board of Education. Don McLeroy, he who dominated the board’s meeting, has been moving for amendments in the curriculum all the way through. McLeroy is a dentist, but claims that he’s read a lot about history. The text states, “The injection of partisan politics into education went so far that at one point another Republican board member burst out in seemingly embarrassed exasperation, ‘Guys, you’re rewriting history now!’” This shows how the bias of the different discourse communities is not only excluding historical events from history but rewriting them entirely. Still, the majority of McLeroy’s amendments passed in a vote held across the board.

The specific argument among the people, reported in this text, was whether or not the founders of America intended for the United States to be a “Christian Nation.” Those who are Christian like to believe this is true and attempt to prove so by insisting, “But Christianity has had a deep impact on our system. The men who wrote the Constitution were Christians who knew the Bible. Our idea of individual rights comes from the Bible. The Western development of the free-market system owes a lot to biblical principles.” These people believe that America’s system of government derives from teachings of the Bible and also point out that no “wall of separation” was ever officially published in any government documents. The Christian activists also assert that in school, science teachers should cover the strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution. They argue that “to bring Christianity into the coverage of American history is not, from their perspective revisionism but rather an uncovering of truths that have been suppressed.”

David Barton is a nonacademic expert who is nationally known as the leader of WallBuilders, who aims to “present America’s forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on our moral, religious and constitutional heritage.” Barton urged the Texas school board that students should be taught principles that derive directly from the Declaration of Independence. These principles are: “1. There is a fixed moral law derived from God and nature. 2. There is a Creator. 3. The Creator gives to man certain unalienable rights. 4. Government exists primarily to protect God-given rights to every individual. 5. Below God-given rights and moral laws, government is directed by the consent of the governed.”

Another expert, Daniel L. Dreisbach, a professor of justice, law and society at American University recommends to the guideline writers that “the founders were overwhelmingly Christian; that the deistic tendencies of a few-like Jefferson- were an anomaly; and that most Americans in the era were not Christians but that ‘98 percent or more of Americans of European descent identified with Protestantism.’” Thus proving the Christians who believed America to be a “Christian Nation” wrong. Richard Brookhiser, the traditionalist columnist and author of books on Alexander Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris and George Washington reports, “The founders were not as Christian as those people would like them to be, though they weren’t as secularist as Christopher Hitchens would like them to be.” Basically, each argument presented is biased in the opinion of he who presents it.

The text states that McLeroy met with the publishers to discuss that Christians wanted books to include classic myths and fables as opposed to newly written stories whose messages they didn’t agree with. McLeroy states, “I met with all the publishers. We went out for Mexican food. I told them this is what we want. We want stories with morals, not P.C. stories.” The text goes on to state that McLeroy showed an e-mail message from an executive at Pearson stating, “Hi Don. Thanks for the impact that you have had on the development of Pearson’s Scott Foresman Reading Street series. Attached is a list of some of the Fairy Tales and Fables that we included in the series.” McLeroy didn’t even appear to have a valid reasoning as to why these changes should take place. The Christian activists wanted these changes because they didn’t agree with them, not because they were what was factual. Still, they were taken into consideration and made their way into the textbooks.

I feel that every argument being presented is biased. The only ones that are not biased are those of the experts. Now, why might that be? I would think this is because a fact can’t be argued. History is all about the facts. This is what the social studies curriculum should be based on. If it’s factual, it should be covered. Of course, the length of a term is not far long enough to learn all of the information, so the more cultural impacting events should be covered more than those that are not so relevant. I feel that the board members voting on what goes into the curriculum shouldn’t even have a say. Being a self-proclaimed expert does not make you an expert. When it comes to the social studies curriculum, who should you believe, those who have an education in the subject or a dentist with a little reading? Think about it, would you trust the professors of justice, law and society to give you a root-canal?

1 comment:

  1. Your summary is much too long, Kelly. Try to keep the main points limited to your position besides the main points. Instead, you've summarized just about the whole article :-/