Institutional child abuse in Texas

Diana Gomez, left, and Garrett Mize, along with other University ...

Associated Press photo

A Latina student protests before a State Board of Education meeting in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday. According to The Associated Press, “A group of 40 students marched to the public hearing to ask ‘the far-right, conservative faction of the state board to not inject their political agenda into the social studies and history curriculum.'”

Anyone who has read me recently knows that I have a fairly broad definition of the term “child abuse.” Anything done (or not done that should be done) that harms a child, not only physically or sexually, but also psychologically, emotionally and spiritually, is, in my book, child abuse.

Unfortunately, here in the United States of America, we have a literal, narrow definition of child abuse. Americans quickly jump upon news accounts of child molesters, for instance, rabidly calling for everything from castration to execution for the perpetrators.

Yet everyday child abuse that relatively few Americans blink an eye at harms far more children than do child molesters, and this everyday child abuse untroubles these vigilant self-proclaimed protectors of children’s welfare.

Take, for instance, Texas. (No, really — please take Texas!)

The Associated Press reports today:

Austin, Texas – A far-right faction of the Texas State Board of Education succeeded [today] 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.

“We have been about conservatism versus liberalism,” said Democrat Mavis Knight of Dallas, explaining her vote against the standards. “We have manipulated strands to insert what we want it to be in the document, regardless as to whether or not it’s appropriate.”

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.

Decisions by the board — made up of lawyers, a dentist and a weekly newspaper publisher among others — can affect textbook content nationwide because Texas is one of publishers’ biggest clients.

Ultraconservatives wielded their power over hundreds of subjects this week, introducing and rejecting amendments on everything from the civil rights movement to global politics. Hostilities flared and prompted a walkout Thursday by one of the board’s most prominent Democrats, Mary Helen Berlanga of Corpus Christi, who accused her colleagues of “whitewashing” curriculum standards.

By late Thursday night, three other Democrats seemed to sense their futility and left, leaving Republicans to easily push through amendments heralding “American exceptionalism” and the U.S. free enterprise system, suggesting it thrives best absent excessive government intervention.

“Some board members themselves acknowledged this morning that the process for revising curriculum standards in Texas is seriously broken, with politics and personal agendas dominating just about every decision,” said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, which advocates for religious freedom.

Republican Terri Leo, a member of the powerful Christian conservative voting bloc, called the standards “world class” and “exceptional.”

Board members argued about the classification of historic periods (still B.C. and A.D., rather than B.C.E. and C.E.); whether students should be required to explain the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its impact on global politics (they will); and whether former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir should be required learning (she will).

In addition to learning the Bill of Rights, the board specified a reference to the Second Amendment right to bear arms in a section about citizenship in a U.S. government class.

Conservatives beat back multiple attempts to include hip-hop as an example of a significant cultural movement.

Numerous attempts to add the names or references to important Hispanics throughout history also were denied, inducing one amendment that would specify that Tejanos died at the Alamo alongside Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie. Another amendment deleted a requirement that sociology students “explain how institutional racism is evident in American society.”

Democrats did score a victory by deleting a portion of an amendment by Republican Don McLeroy suggesting that the civil rights movement led to “unrealistic expectations for equal outcomes.” …

So the public education that a child receives in Texas, apparently, is good only as long as that child never crosses the borders of the state of Texas. And it helps immensely too, of course, if that child is white and is born to parents who identify as Christian and conservative.

The purpose of education is to prepare an individual to be able to function in the world — not to be able to function only in the backasswards state of Texas.

Stupid old white Texans are making themselves feel better by cramming their dying worldview down the throats of today’s youth, but by trying only to ensure the continuation of their own woefully outdated ignorance, they are doing Texas’ youth a huge disservice.

Texas’ youth will not be competitive in a world of increasing diversity and enlightenment — a world that does indeed recognize the problem of institutional racism even if it does not yet recognize the problem of institutional child abuse, such as what is happening to the public educational system in Texas.

Control of education in the United States of America always has been local. “States’ rights!” is the mantra. Yet “states’ rights” was used to justify slavery and post-slavery racial segregation and racial discrimination.

Of course the logal troglodytes want local control of education and of everything else, such as workers’ rights, consumers’ rights and the rights of individuals under the criminal “justice” system. They want to be able to force their ignorant, fearful and hate-based worldview on all of those within their domain — with impunity.

It’s long past time to federalize public education. American children deserve better than to be left to the ignorance, bigotry, hatred and fear of the racist/white supremacist, misogynist, patriarchal, homophobic, xenophobic, “Christo”fascist, jingoistic assholes who sit on school boards across the nation.

No wonder China and India and other Asian nations are kicking America’s ass. Their children are actually being educated — and not indoctrinated in wingnuttery.

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