The Dark Ages return: Texas Board of Education rewrites the Enlightenment

Another vote, another win for the conservative majority on Texas’ State Board of Education.

Science is in a street fight with anti-science, as Nature has argued. Now the forces of the dark ages are taking on the Enlightenment itself.

As the NYT reported, “Last year, the Texas Board of Education adopted language requiring that teachers present all sides of the evidence on evolution and global warming” (see How ultraconservative Texans are rewriting your kids’ textbooks and bringing global-warming denial into science class).

The Texas Board of Education wants dumber kids.


Thursday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported:

Ken Mercer, a member of the State Board of Education, wants Texas students to know about both the good and the bad that government can offer, he said Thursday.

So, he introduced an amendment to state social studies curriculum standards that said: “understand how government taxation and regulations can serve as restriction to private enterprise.”

He said the students need to know that over-regulation and over-taxation can inhibit innovation and stifle industry.

His fellow member, Terri Leo, agreed. She said it’s especially important today, with issues like cap-and-trade and “policies that are based on supposed global warming theories.”

Kids don’t need to know the harm pollution can cause, of course, just the “harm” from efforts to stop pollution. No need to point out, say, that a U.S. study found, “Closing coal-fired power plants can have a direct, positive impact on children’s cognitive development and health” (See “If you want smarter kids, shut coal plants”).

And then Friday, the Texas Freedom Network reported:

… the board stripped Thomas Jefferson from a world history standard about the influence of Enlightenment thinkers on political revolutions from the 1700s to today. In Jefferson’s place, the board’s religious conservatives succeeded in inserting Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin. They also removed the reference to ‘Enlightenment ideas’ in the standard, requiring that students should simply learn about the influence of the ‘writings’ of various thinkers (including Calvin and Aquinas).”

Hey, let’s just stop teaching “reason” and “thinking” entirely. It really just leads to our kids asking annoying questions and learning stuff. Very dangerous.