Tax money used to mislead children for religious reasons

Secular Coalition for America calls for Equity in Educational Standards

Science and History just as important as English and Math

Four Ways Children are Misled by Taxpayer-funded religious propaganda:

1. In March 2010 the Texas Board of Education voted to remove Thomas Jefferson’s name from a list of leaders who have inspired changes in governments worldwide.  President Jefferson, who authored the Declaration of Independence, also penned the phrase “separation of church and state.”

2. Texas Board of Education member Don McLeroy states, “Evolution is hooey.”[1] In 2009 the Texas Board of Education voted to present “all sides” of the evidence when studying evolution[2] and misleadingly requires the consideration of “gaps” in the fossil record.[3]

3. Students taking government classes in Texas are instructed that America’s founding was informed by “Judeo-Christian (especially Biblical law),” and that the legal principles of “Moses”…“informed the American founding documents.”  In fact, Steven K. Green, director of the Center for Religion, Law and Democracy at Willamette University, said the founders “did not draw on Mosaic law.” The Enlightenment, the time which produced our founders, had developed in opposition to reliance on Biblical law. Green’s search for late-1700s American court cases that referenced Mosaic law yielded almost nothing: “The record is basically bereft,” said Green.

4. In 2009 the Texas State Board of Education removed from curriculum standards reference to the very real scientific consensus that the universe began approximately 14 billion years ago.

Texas school books harm children nationwide

Texas’ influence reaches well beyond the state line.  Because other big states like California and New York do not impose statewide standards in the same way, Texas is one of the largest statewide textbook markets.  Texas uses some of its $22 billion education fund to buy or distribute a staggering 48 million textbooks annually — which strongly inclines educational publishers to tailor products to fit Texas standards.[4] 

Even if this problem were limited only to Texas, we should not be content to leave approximately 4.8 million public school children behind. It is wholly unacceptable for any child to be subjected to religious propaganda rather than facts in a taxpayer-funded school. 

Secular Coalition for America calls for Educational Standards Equity

The Obama Administration has embraced common core standards developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association. These standards apply only to math and English language arts.  The administration offers financial incentives for states to adopt similar standards. These standards outline what should be taught in math and language arts classes, K-12.

Even George Will, the conservative columnist, views science and history as “neglected” in national standards, and that if there are to be national standards, they should give to science and history the same weight given to English language arts and math.[5]

Both Presidents Kennedy and Eisenhower were unequivocal in support of a strong federal effort to improve science education, and their positions were noncontroversial at the time. President Kennedy said, “Science contributes to our culture in many ways, as a creative intellectual activity in its own right, as the light which has served to illuminate man's place in the universe, and as the source of understanding of man's own nature.” But as the New York Times[6]  recently noted, some basic, factual subjects, such as evolution, may be deemed “controversial” in the 21st Century’s educational environment. Whether we will teach our students the truth about science and history has now become a point of political contention, where religiously-based myths compete with reality and fact.

Educational Standards Equity is Essential for America’s Future

A few ultra-conservative Texans shouldn’t get to determine the educational standard for America’s schools.  Just as national standards for math and English language arts have been developed and embraced by the Obama administration, the National Governors Association and many Members of Congress, so too should common core standards for science and history.  States should be given the same opportunity and financial incentive to adopt national science and history standards. Textbooks and teachers must present accurate information about such subjects as evolution, the age of the universe, America’s secular founding and laws affecting church-state separation.

[1] Blake, Mariah. “Revisionaries: How a group of Texas conservatives is rewriting your kids’ textbooks.” Washington Monthly, January/February 2010.
[2] Kaumfan, Leslie. “Darwin Foes Add Warming to Targets.” New York Times, March 3, 2010.
[3] Blake, Mariah. “Revisionaries: How a group of Texas conservatives is rewriting your kids’ textbooks.” Washington Monthly, January/February 2010
[4] Shorto, Russell. “How Christian Were the Founders?” New York Times, February 11, 2010.
[5] Will, George F. “Why Can’t Uncle Sam Learn?” Washington Post, March 18, 2010.
[6] Dillon, Sam. “Panel Proposes Single Standard for All Schools” New York Times, March 11, 2010

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