Washington, DC, May 24, 2010
The American Humanist Association (AHA) spoke out today against the newly-approved social studies and U.S. history curricula in Texas and urged other states to reject textbooks written for the new curricula, as California has proposed. In a series of 9-5 votes, the Texas State Board of Education decided on Friday to alter the textbook standards in a way that undermines the separation of church and state and would infuse a more conservative tone into Texas classrooms overall.
“All those who value truth and academic objectivity must stand together to resist the revisionist history of the religious right,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the AHA. “Only by boycotting Texas textbooks can academic credibility be maintained. Education and intellectual honesty are vital humanist values, and the AHA cannot sit silently as religious activists hijack American education.”
National attention has been focused on the new Texas standards since the proposals were announced last year. There is widespread concern that the new standards will affect students not only in the Lone Star State but in other states, as Texas has the second-largest textbook market and thus textbooks used nation-wide are often written to conform to their standards.
“Within years these books will flood classrooms across the country unless states take action now,” said Speckhardt.
The conservative textbook standards encourage students to “compare and contrast” the First Amendment with the legal doctrine of separation of church and state applied in U.S. Supreme Court rulings, and they would also include information on conservative groups of the past two decades while failing to acknowledge their liberal counterparts. Perhaps most alarmingly, the standards also include a positive analysis of Joseph McCarthy, the witch-hunting Cold War senator who was disgraced after making brash allegations against many public figures and ruining many careers.
The AHA did note one silver lining: the proposed changes originally included the removal of founding father and separation of church and state advocate Thomas Jefferson, but the final version of the standards appear to have reversed the decision to remove Jefferson.
“Thomas Jefferson was one of the foremost influential figures in American history” concluded Speckhardt. “To exclude him is a disservice not only to students, but to this country, which has thrived under his founding principles–including the separation of church and state.”
The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across America.
Humanism is the idea that you can be good without a belief in God.