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Today's NYTimes Magazine asks How Christian were the Founders?". The article starts by profiling the young-earth creationist Don McLeroy, whose mission in life seems to be to eliminate the division between Church and State and rewrite all the history books to claim that America was founded as a Christian Nation.

This wouldn't be a problem if he wasn't on the Texas State Board of Education, which every ten years generates a new set of textbook standards, and if those standards did not in turn dictate the content of textbooks (or lack of content) that children nationwide would be subjected to.

There is something we can do about it - over the break

I live in California, and one of our most progressive state legislators is the very DKos-friendly Mark Leno. I sent him a letter this afternoon recommending that he introduce a very simple bill that directs the California State Board of Education to reject any textbook which has been approved by the Texas State Board of Education, until such time as the Texas Board no longer was influenced by young-earth creationists, Christian Nation-ists, anti-evolutionists, etc.

Obviously other large states (New York, for instance) could try the same thing, and should - but this seems most likely to live in the public imagination as a battle between Texas and California.

Introducing such a bill - which we might call the "Higher Standards for California Education Act" would have four primary results:

1] When introduced, such a bill would spark a media firestorm pitting the best of California values (openness and inclusivity and adherence to progress) against the worst of Texas values (a xenophobic and revisionist dumbing down of our children) - in a contest that California values would win.

2] It would specifically bring more media coverage of the progressive legislators sponsoring the bill, which would therefore bring more coverage to their other legislative priorities like healthcare.

3] It would naturally position all co-signers as clearly on the side of progress and children, and force social conservatives to expose themselves as against progress and children - which is ideal framing.

4] When passed, it would effectively require that textbook publishers come up with two versions of textbooks rather than just dumbing them all down to Texas levels. Doing so means each state would get to choose between the uncompromised California version and the Texas version - and obviously most would choose California. This would rescue children not just in California, but from all over the country from the “education” that the Texas School Board would otherwise subject them to.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to spread the idea that the Texas School Board standards are not good enough for your state - by writing to your state representatives and to the editors of your local paper. If you want to encourage Mark Leno or any other progressive legislator to introduce such a bill. copy the 4 points above, the bill title ("Higher Standards for [your state] Education Act" and the bill description (a very simple bill that directs the [your state] State Board of Education to reject any textbook which has been approved by the Texas State Board of Education, until such time as the Texas Board is not riddled with idiots)

Or I could of course make that last bit a bit  easier - so here is your cut-and-paste version (note that you have to customize the information in [brackets] ):

subject line: How [your state] can stop Texas fundamentalists from controlling our children's textbooks

body:

Dear [your Representative]

I am very concerned about what I read in the New York Times about the efforts  of Texas young-earth creationists like Don McLeroy to rewrite history textbooks and eliminate the division between Church and State:  

http://www.nytimes.com/...

It occurred to me that introducing a simple bill - which required that our State Board of Education NOT accept textbooks which had gained approval from the flawed Texas State Board of Education until such time as the Texas Board no longer had young-earth creationists and other xenophobic neanderthals, would accomplish several important goals:

1] When introduced, such a bill would spark a media firestorm pitting the best of [our state's] values (openness and inclusivity and adherence to progress) against the worst of Texas values (a xenophobic and revisionist dumbing down of our children) - in a contest that [our state's] values would win.

2] It would specifically bring more media coverage of the progressive legislators sponsoring the bill, which would therefore bring more coverage to their other legislative priorities like healthcare.

3] It would naturally position all co-signers as clearly on the side of progress and children, and force social conservatives to expose themselves as against progress and children - which is ideal framing.

4] When passed, it would effectively require that textbook publishers come up with two versions of textbooks rather than just dumbing them all down to Texas levels. Doing so means each state would get to choose between the uncompromised version and the Texas version - and obviously most would choose our version. This would rescue children not just in [our state], but all over the country from the “education” that the Texas School Board would otherwise subject them to.

Yours Sincerely,

=========
Please note that I'm sure many people on the Texas Board of Education are not idiots, and I salute their perseverance in dealing with zealous neaderthals like McLeroy.

Originally posted to AikidoPilgrim on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 03:57 PM PST.

Poll

What is the hardest part of believing the Earth was created in one day, less than 10,000 years ago?

8%57 votes
9%67 votes
10%72 votes
14%97 votes
1%13 votes
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5%41 votes
46%323 votes

| 692 votes | Vote | Results

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