Rice University student activist Zack Kopplin, who crusaded against Louisiana’s public education standards in 2008, claiming that creationism was being taught in the classroom, was the latest to put in his two-cents two weeks too late on the Texas textbooks in a hyperbolic Slate rant that hit upon almost every ideological hot-button including Moses and the American Constitution.
In late November, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) approved the new Social Studies instructional materials that were criticized by progressives for retaining coverage of Moses and Judeo-Christian principles and their impact on American law, government and its founding. Kopplin is the darling of leftwing activists and a past MSNBC foot soldier to Melissa Harris-Perry, who was blasted for pushing a “collective notion of children” reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s global village.
The Houston Chronicle named the student activist one of their most fascinating people of 2014. Last year, driven by his rabid fears of creationism being taught in the classroom, he fought Sen. Dan Patrick’s effort to allow school vouchers, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Vouchers are controversial for rerouting public funds into private schools; however, the creationism fighter sees Moses everywhere and his concern was that the redirected public money would go to private religious schools.
These imaginary adventures of Moses, the Hebrew lawgiver, in Lone Star public education have been exacerbated by the Texas Freedom Network which lit the fuse and fanned the flames of a supposed evangelical right wing education takeover.
One of Texas Freedom Network’s paid textbook reviewers accused Texas public education of transforming Moses into an American founding father.
“A former SMU educrat trembled to the Texas Tribune that students would believe that the Hebrew lawgiver “was the first American,” Breitbart Texas reported.
Contrary to newfangled secular folklore, Moses did not lead his people across the Red River.
Social Studies in Texas covers the subjects of World History, U.S. History, World Geography & Culture, Texas History, US Government and Economics.
Debbie Ratcliffe, Director of Communications for the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the administrative body over the state’s public education, told Breitbart Texas, “There have been some exaggerated claims that Texas has dubbed Moses as a founding father of the US. That, of course, is not true.”
She pointed out that high school US Government curriculum standards actually state that a student “understands how constitutional government, as developed in America and expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the US Constitution, has been influenced by ideas, people, and historical documents.”
Students are “expected to identify individuals whose principles of laws and government institutions informed the American founding documents, including those of Moses, William Blackstone, John Locke, and Charles de Montesquieu.”
It is part of a broader world view of government. For World History, the Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills (TEKS) require that students understand how contemporary political systems have developed from earlier systems of government and their political and legal impacts including Hammurabi’s Code, the Jewish Ten Commandments, Justinian’s Code of Laws, Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
Breitbart Texas spoke to Lt. Col Roy White (Ret.), founder of Truth in Texas Textbooks, the coalition of scholars, researchers, community members and a curriculum accuracy expert who volunteered their time and talents to critique the Social Studies textbooks. They have been at the center of the manufactured controversy.
He said, “If we had found that Moses had been quoted as a founding father, we would have criticized it, too.”Ratcliffe also added that that there are many other things students learn. She said, “State statute specifically requires that students are taught about the free enterprise system.”
Like Moses, this poses a philosophical problem for Texas Keynesians.
Throughout the Social Studies multi-month textbook adoption process right through toSlate, a healthy false narrative about the Hebrew lawgiver in Texas history dragged on and on; although, someone during America’s formative years thought Moses formidable.
“His perceived likeness adorns the US Supreme Court with the 10 Commandments. He is also the central of 23 historical figures hanging overhead in the House Chamber of the United States Capitol,” Breitbart Texas reported.
Another rancid related fairytale is the teaching of creationism in Texas public school science classes. Evolution is taught in public schools and, according to the TEA’s Ratcliffe, it is written into the science TEKS and presented in several ways.
That did not stop the Texas Freedom Network from launching a similar smear campaign during the 2013 science textbook adoption process, with wild accusations made that Texas public schools taught creationism and that the earth was only 6,000 years old.
Ratcliffe highlighted as one example that in the TEKS astronomy, students learn scientific theories of cosmology from the Big Bank to red shift, microwave background radiation, current theories of the evolution of the universe, including estimates for the age of the universe; and scientific hypotheses of the fate of the universe, including open and closed universes and the role of dark matter and dark energy.
Beginning in kindergarten, science TEKS in Texas are “as defined by the National Academy of Sciences, is the ‘use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena, as well as the knowledge generated through this process.”
Even a Texas elementary public school teacher told Breitbart Texas that students are taught that the earth is estimated to be approximately 38 or 39 million years old and the Earth has changed greatly over that time.
In her recent newsletter, SBOE chairwoman Barbara Cargill pointed out that “Our students must be taught true, factual history, not revisionist history.”
Spreading exaggerated claims about Moses in Texas education was only one of Texas Freedom Network’s tall tales that found their way into the mainstream media. The climate change controversy was another, pushed by the Gates Foundation education funded National Journal.
The Slate article ended with a cautionary warning — because of “tense negotiations among activists, Texas politicians, and textbook publishers will influence what children in Texas, and around the country, will be taught about issues from Islam to Moses to climate change.”
That may just scare the bejeebers out of an atheist but, in reality, the role the SBOE over adopting Texas instructional materials has been sharply diminished through legislation. Also, former board member Trinity University, San Antonio, Professor Michael Soto rewrote the SBOE rules to reduce the board’s power and did it while he served on the board in 2010.
Schools are straying from the SBOE’s final approved list because legislatively they can. SBOE member Thomas Ratliff (R-Mt. Pleasant) was quoted by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as seeing this trend “more and more.”
They also reported that in a survey conducted by the Instructional Materials Coordinators’ Association of Texas, which aids school district book purchasers, 94% of respondents bought at least some non-board-approved books.
“There are more and more districts selecting their materials away from the [board of education] process,” said Cliff Avery, association executive director” in the Star-Telegramarticle.
This is something that progressives could have gloated over. Instead, they stuck with their tried-and-true Texas bashing education narrative.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.