19 May 2010

Texas: A Homeschooler tells us what to learn

While I'd thought the adoption of right-wing textbook guidelines in Texas was a fait accompli, the vote on it actually happens this week. The vote may have national significance, depending on how one measures the influence of Texas as the second largest textbook-purchasing state on the publishing industry. Opponents of the new guidelines warn that publishers' need to accommodate Texas may force students in other states to learn similar lessons. With that possibility in mind, here's an interview a British newspaper conducted with an advocate of the rightist guidelines, a woman who'd homeschooled her own children rather than subject them to the hellfire of allegedly liberal-biased public schools. In simplest terms, she advocates theocracy plus laissez-faire capitalism, which for her kind has the force of theocracy itself. Apart from the possible consequences for the textbook industry and students elsewhere, I'd bring this issue up only to mock it, since it's mainly Texans' problem. But on some level Ms. Dunbar is correct that public schools have an obligation to inculcate patriotism. The question is: what kind of patriotism? Another is: who gets to define it? The Texas rightists would like to say that God sets the standard so that it can never change. But if patriotism rather than state pride is at issue, it seems like all Americans should have a say on the subject, like I've just had. I'd be surprised if a Texan reads this, but this debate may need to expand beyond Texas if we don't want patriotism to be defined differently by each state in the Union. That doesn't sound very patriotic at all.

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