Texas Board Of Education: Jefferson Davis And Obama’s Middle Name Are Essential For Students To Learn

Today, the right-wing Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) will give final approval of content for state social studies curriculum. The standards will “dictate what is taught in all Texas schools and provide the basis for textbooks and student achievement tests over the next decade.” Yesterday, this unqualified board — which includes a woman who thinks public education is a “tool of perversion” and a chairman whose real profession is a dentist — continued to inject their right-wing ideology into the state’s standards, pushing for inclusion of more conservatives, more Confederate glorification, and more distortion of progressive viewpoints.

Whether To Require Students To Learn Obama’s Middle Name: Republican David Bradley is one of the leaders of the SBOE’s far-right faction. Yesterday, he suggested that if students were going to learn about Barack Obama as the first African-American president, they should also learn his middle name — Hussein. However, fellow Republican Bob Craig objected, saying, “The intent of what you’re doing is pretty obvious, but I don’t think it is necessarily correct,” pointing out that other presidents like Kennedy and Reagan don’t have their middle names in the standards. Bradley eventually withdrew his amendment, and the board decided to list Obama as he is on the White House website: Barack H. Obama.

Elevating Confederate Leader Jefferson Davis To The Level Of Abraham Lincoln: There was “prolonged debate” yesterday over whether to “include Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address with a lesson on Abraham Lincoln’s philosophical views.” Far-right Republican Cynthia Dunbar said that excluding Jefferson would be an attempt to “whitewash” history. (TFN Insider adds, “But that’s what Davis’s address does! The address doesn’t even mention the reason southern states seceded: slavery.”) Eventually, the SBOE votes to keep in Davis and require students to “contrast” his speech to Lincoln’s speeches.

Requiring That Historical Figures — Except Conservative Ones — Must Be Dead For Students To Study Them: Yesterday, SBOE voted to strip United Farm Workers of America co-founder Dolores Huerta from a third-grade list of “historical and contemporary figures who have exemplified good citizenship.” Several officials argued that she is a socialist and therefore should be excluded. But perhaps the most blatantly biased objection came from Bradley, who said:

I am very reluctant to include persons who are still alive. By definition of “history,” you must be dead, because you never know when you might embarrass us later.

Watch the debate here:

Of course, the board has had no problem including Wallace Jefferson, the Republican chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, or right-wing figure Phyllis Schlafly.

This week, ThinkProgress spoke with Judy Jennings and Rebecca Bell-Metereau, two progressives who are running for seats on the SBOE. They both promised to try to undo any textbook changes the right-wing board approves.