Mirror, mirror on the wall, why must my home state be so adamant about making sure its children become the dumbest of them all? Six years ago, the Texas Legislature passed a law encouraging its public schools to instruct students about the influence of the Bible in both history and literature. Anyone familiar with allegory should understand why my eyes are rolling from my seat all the way to the Jordan River over the idea of the Bible being taught as history.
A recently released report from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund has all but confirmed the fears of critics of the Texas Legislature’s controversial 2007 decision. The study, authored by a religious studies professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, examines what exactly students are being taught in the 57 school districts and three charter schools that teach Bible courses and the qualifications of the instructors.
Basically: Jesus wept.
The report found that in two Texas school districts students are being taught the long discredited claim that the racial diversity of today can be traced back to Noah’s sons. The Curse of Ham was used as justification for both racism and slavery, and while the study notes that it doesn’t tie the concept directly to the concept of slavery and racist ideology, “it’s stunning that this ‘theory’ of racial origins is part of instructional materials used in any classroom today.
The nonpartisan research organization goes on to highlight other biases, revealing, “Many courses teach students to interpret the Bible and even Judaism through a distinctly Christian lens. Anti-Jewish bias — whether intentional or not — is not uncommon.”
I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on whether a bunch of right-wing, white Protestants teaching Texas students that the Bible frowns upon the Blacks and the Jews unfavorable is intentional or not.
Creationism is also mentioned with many courses teaching students that the Bible “provides scientific proof of a 6,000-year-old Earth.” Likewise, instructors are promoting the idea that the “United States was founded as a Christian nation based on biblical Christian principles.”
Not surprisingly “many courses rely mostly on memorization of Bible verses and factoids from Bible stories rather than teaching students how to analyze what they are studying.”
And: “One district relies heavily on Bible cartoons from Hanna-Barbara for its high school class. Students in another district spend two days watching what lesson plans describe as ‘the historic documentary Ancient Aliens,’ which presents ‘a new interpretation of angelic beings described as extraterrestrials.’”
Surely, some folks are reading this and saying “But I love Jesus and why can’t children learn about Jesus in school?” Well, beyond that whole pesky separation between church and state thing, which protects the freedom of individual to worship as they see fit without being forced into someone else’s views of the Bible, it is not fair for those children who come from families who either practice a different/no faith or who want to teach faith to their children at home to be subjected to this view of Christianity…and the Curse of Ham isn’t something most of us would want our children being exposed to as the reason some of us are light and others, dark.
The bill that allowed this bastardizing of children’s minds at the expense of promoting religious dogma – HB 1287 – required that teachers of the Bible courses receive special training. However, as the study highlights, “Five years after passing the law, the Texas Legislature has still never appropriated any funding to support the mandatory requirement it created.”
Not particularly surprising considering Texas has been steadily dropping the amount of money it spends per student on education for several years now.
The consequences of that are: “Most Bible course teachers have never had a single college-level course in biblical, religious or theological studies, despite HB 1287’s requirement that they hold ‘where practical, a minor in religion or biblical studies.’”
In other words, you have a bunch of people who might’ve paid a little bit of attention in Vacation Bible School or CCE classes playing the role of religious scholar with the assistance of Yogi the Bear and Boo-Boo. There are some districts that comply with the qualifications as designed, but in the end, there is a separation of church and state for a reason.
Then again, these are the same people who in 2010 decided to put their spin on other matters taught in classrooms – i.e. “stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.”
Their rationale has long been that they are adding “balance” because academia skews to the left. Facts don’t have a bias, but these people are too great of fools to see that. So now we have a school system that teaches things like the Boston Tea Party was an act of terror, does its best to whitewash history altogether, and now teaches remixed fables with the aid of cartoons.
It’s all been a collaborative effort among Republicans in the state, led by Gov. Rick Perry – who fights issues like drought by issuing declarations for days of prayer – that’s resulted in Texas’ abysmal education record all around.
You can say a prayer, wish on a star, or just a penny in a fountain, but please, think happy thoughts about the reported new initiative by Democrats to turn Texas blue and hope for the best. The kids need it. Jesus, too. Like, hasn’t been through enough?
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