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Tarballs and Tainted History

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BP's wells aren't the only things failing around Texas these days.

Education is quickly draining out of Texas classrooms, and as the oil spill made its way onto Texas beaches this weekend, word of the brain-drain that is our State Board of Education has most certainly gotten out. The spoof public relations Twitter account for BP, BPGlobalPR, tweeted a Texas-sized zinger that quickly zoomed to the top of Twitter.com today, garnering over 100+ retweets in less than two hours: "Our oil hit Texas beaches yesterday. Fortunately, in 20 years their school books will say nothing happened. #bpcares".

Tarballs and tainted history. Lucky us.

The Texas State Board of Education has been caught in the national spotlight of mainstream news sources (see How Christian Were the Founders?) ever since, like a smelly oil well in the wind, reporters picked up the scent of how completely whacked-out the current SBOE members are--or, as the New York Times more politely put it, when the SBOE approved a curriculum that "put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks." Now, thanks to the SBOE's it'd-be-funny-if-it-weren't-so-sad antics, BPGlobalPR's tweet today pushed the long-term risks of a state board rewriting history to perhaps a larger--and younger--following with a taste for schadenfreude.

As far as I can see, the only thing worse than George W. Bush being back in Texas is the state of education here. Bill Hobby, former Lt. Governor of Texas, recently called Texas the "Laughing Stock State" as a result of the SBOE's desire to remove from the pages of textbooks notable Hispanics like Lorenzo de Zavala, who helped draft the constitution of the Republic of Texas. As if erasing history wasn't enough, Republican SBOE members like incumbent Ken Mercer want to actually rewrite history by replacing them with ultra-conservatives like Sean Hannity, who once said, "I'll tell you who should be tortured and killed at Guantanamo: every filthy Democrat in the U.S. Congress." Where do you think they'll tuck that quote in the margins of a second grader's social studies text? In the "Washed Up TV Hosts Who Historically Have Incited Violence" chapter?

Without a change of board members, as Governor Rick Perry continues to inexcusably refer to the BP oil disaster an "act of God," Texas's textbooks will soon reflect the same type of Republican ideology that Mercer's opponent, Democrat Rebecca Bell-Metereau, correctly called "a butchered curriculum...riddled with inaccuracy."

And with teachers like Rick Perry and Ken Mercer at the helm, why even bother with standardized tests?

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