Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


T For Textbook

In the Texas textbook fight, as it so much else, it's wise to read the bill, or in the case the standards, before criticizing them:

Benjamin Jealous, president of the NAACP, had come from his headquarters in Baltimore to complain about the downgrading of the human debasement of African slaves. According to Jealous, language referring to the "triangular trade" among the English colonies on the eastern seaboard, the Caribbean, and Britain had excised the horrors of slavery

Of course, the "triangular trade" has been taught in American public schools at least since I was in California's system a half-century ago, as the import of slaves to the New World, their harvesting of sugar, tobacco, and other commodities, and the sale of these or their by-products (such as molasses and rum) in Europe. Jealous was caught by the gimlet-eyed Terri Leo, secretary of the board. She asked him if he had, in fact, read the proposed curriculum changes and could cite the language he found unacceptable. He was compelled to admit that he had not, and could not. Whereupon she pointed out that the new language summons students to explain "the plantation system, the Atlantic triangular trade, and the spread of slavery." Jealous had been caught in a criticism by inference--or, more bluntly, by dependence on second-hand talking points. 

Texas has also, apparently, exercised reasonable judgment about whom to study:

Later Paul Henley of the Texas State Teachers Association, a powerful public employee union, assailed the board, blasting the replacement of a reference to Santa Barraza--a Texas woman of Hispanic origin, alive and well, who paints folkloric representations of the U.S.-Mexico borderland--with the late cartoon animator Tex Avery (1908-80) on a list of Texas-born contributors to the arts. Most of them, like Barraza, are obscure; Avery is not

Speaking of Tex Avery, here's my favorite of his cartoons. (Beward. puns ahead!)

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