New Texas textbook will downplay slavery, omit KKK and Jim Crow


This fall, Texas public school students will begin using a textbook based on standards adopted in 2010 that pay lip service to racial segregation and completely omit the KKK and Jim Crow, The Washington Post reports:

Freed slaves fighting for the Union in the Civil War, via Wikimedia Commons

African-Americans fighting for the Union in the Civil War, via Wikimedia Commons

And when it comes to the Civil War, children are supposed to learn that the conflict was caused by “sectionalism, states’ rights and slavery” — written deliberately in that order to telegraph slavery’s secondary role in driving the conflict, according to some members of the state board of education.

Slavery was a “side issue to the Civil War,” said Pat Hardy, a Republican board member, when the board adopted the standards in 2010. “There would be those who would say the reason for the Civil War was over slavery. No. It was over states’ rights.”

Yes, the Civil War was over states’ rights. Specifically, the right to hold slaves. The Declaration of Causes of Seceding States — a document that should be read in every high school in the country — could not be clearer on this point. As the Post notes, slavery’s role as a primary cause of the Civil War is a matter of “scholarly consensus.” It is as if not more settled in history than the theory of evolution by natural selection is in biology, which, by the way, the Texas standards also undermine.

What’s more, our country’s undying commitment to states’ rights is what allows the Civil War to be the only chapter of history written by the losers. Without a fully national education system, we give states and localities the latitude to set their curricula, even when they’re wrong. And their wrongness does real damage: In a 2011 Pew survey, 48% of Americans felt that the Civil War was over “states’ rights,” while only 38% indicated that the primary cause was slavery — and younger respondents were more likely to answer with states’ rights. Additionally, 36% of respondents felt that it was “appropriate” to praise Confederate leaders.

Yet it’s these same lawmakers who take advantage of our federalism to rewrite history — and biology — in their favor who complain about the supposed tyrannical nature of our government. We let Texas get away with deliberately misleading its children to serve religious, ideological and otherwise political purposes with nothing more than derisive articles and the occasional documentary. Among nations that purport to have the world’s best educational systems, that’s an uniquely American phenomenon.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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4 Responses to “New Texas textbook will downplay slavery, omit KKK and Jim Crow”

  1. Butch1 says:

    Those who are assigned to produce the textbooks should lose their right to do so if they are going to either rewrite history or leave out important chunks of it to mislead the students about the Civil War facts. They should be ashamed of themselves, but we know they aren’t. This is a deliberate attempt to change the history so that the future generations will not know the horror the Southern whites did to blacks.

  2. The_Fixer says:

    They – the Texans responsible for this, and their ilk, are ensuring that these kids won’t get into college. After all, how are they gonna pass the required tests when everything that they’ve been taught is wrong?

    College professors often spend too much time teaching kids who haven’t been taught, or have been taught incorrectly, things that they should have learned in high school – those who went to school in the deep South.

    I have a friend who is a high school teacher. She says that the worst students she has are the ones who transfer up here from the south. Even the ones who were in “advanced placement” classes do not measure up to the mediocre students in her classes.

    Texas, and other states in the South, need to stop cranking idiots out of their school systems. Of course, that’s hard to do when you have idiots running those systems. Inmates in charge of the asylum, indeed.

  3. 2karmanot says:

    Yep, we doz gots our own histories to put on the faces of our childens. yeeeeha!

  4. Butch1 says:

    Outrageous, revisionist attempts to distort the real history of this country. Perhaps real historians will prevail when these kids continue on to college if they ever get there.

    The people writing this trash are counting that they won’t.

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