Sunday, March 14, 2010

Is Our Children Learning?

"Hey everybody! It's Leif Erikson Day!" That's how my nephew suddenly interrupted the dinner conversation the other night. Well, the outburst got our attention. It wasn't Leif Erikson Day though, but apparently my nephew had been informed by this Spongebob episode:

(YouTube video)

Now that the six-year-old had everybody's attention, his grandpa asked him if he knew who Leif Erikson was.

"A viking!" my nephew exclaimed!

"And how long ago did he live," grandpa asked.

"Oh, about 100 years ago," the kid said with a thoughtful expression.

"Try about 1000 years ago," cranky grandpa said.

"And his real name was CHARLIE!" my nephew added with quite a bit of confidence.

"That's not even a Nordic name!" Grandpa was now officially arguing with a six-year-old.

I leaned over to my nephew (he is my favorite nephew), and I said, "We can fix that. I'll teach you how to edit Wikipedia."

That's a joke, of course. But I think in Texas, they actually get their history curriculum from Conservapedia. Much like Conservapedia's ill-conceived project to correct the Bible, the Texas Board of Education wants to put a conservative spin on history, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government, justifying McCarthyism, and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.

This radical right-wing rewrite is insane, but what I find most frightening is throwing Thomas Jefferson down the memory hole. As you should know, Jefferson was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and he is generally attributed with the phrase "separation of church and state."

Conservatives are so irked by that phrase that the Texas BOE refused to require that students learn that the Constitution prevents the U.S. government from promoting one religion over all others! The "party of God" is probably still upset over some landmark rulings regarding public schools and religion.

But that metaphorical "wall of separation" protects both the church and the government. The founding fathers were a mixture of deists, Christians, and possibly one atheist, but they were all too familiar with the problems of state sponsored religion in Europe.

But the Texas BOE needs an education... and don't even get me started on their views on evolution. Modern science and the principals of democracy are both too complicated for the clowns in charge.

Usually here is where I'd conclude with some witty comparison between the Texas BOE and Spongebob, but I don't want to insult Spongebob.

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