I thought Republican Texas Sen. Dan Patrick's Senate Bill 1128 was going after ethnic studies.
Turns out he's going after rock 'n' roll instead.
At least that's what one of his staff members told the Librotraficantes on March 14 when we visited Dan Patrick's office. This bill was created to save the University of Texas, Texas A&M University and other Texas colleges from offering "The History of Rock and Roll" as a course that fully meets the history requirement to graduate.
But Sen. Patrick has facts to back himself up.
Hold on. I don't want the KISS Army mad at me. I'm trying to wrap my head around this, too.
Dan Patrick based his bill on The National Association of Scholars (NAS) report, "Recasting History: Are Race, Class, and Gender Dominating American History?" I read the report to find out what Republicans are reading.
The report does not directly implicate rock 'n' roll but the NAS report does criticize the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave for being too much about race.
Obviously any good rock 'n' roll professor would have to discuss how African-American blues musicians and gospel artists inspired Elvis Presley, and, thus, bring up race. So that must be really why it has to go.
Of course, a great rock 'n' roll professor would also discuss legendary Chicano musician Carlos Santana of "Black Magic Woman" fame (that song seems to also bring up gender -- another "no no" in the NAS report), and the best rock 'n' roll professor ever would know that the biggest Chicano musician of all time was Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead.
Yes, Dead Heads, TX SB1128 is the "No Grateful Dead/No Day of the Dead" Bill.
I must confess that with my filthy mind, I would love to take that class, but only for full college credit.
No word on if Patrick's bill will effect dancing on the UT campus or if rock 'n' roll will be replaced by banjo music -- it is, after all, Texas.
The report and Dan Patrick keep talking about creating "comprehensive history courses."
What can you talk about in these comprehensive courses if you can't talk about race, gender, class... or rock 'n' roll history... or even baseball?
This one is a bit confusing since Sen. Patrick is a baseball fan. When we walked into his office in Austin, the first thing I noticed was the encased Yale baseball jersey, signed by George Bush, hanging on his wall.
Although baseball is not named in the NAS report, baseball probably can't be a topic for the comprehensive history course Patrick is dreaming up since the NAS report criticized the book Jackie Robinson and the American Dilemma for being too much about race.
Yes, it's a very confusing law, even though it's only two pages long -- and there are two of them.
Republican Texas House Representative Giovanni Capriglione wrote the identical House Bill 1938 (HB1938). In school, we call that plagiarism. In politics, must we call that... serendipity?
Now, let's suppose I was a professor of one of these comprehensive history courses that Capriglione and Patrick want to create, as inspired by the National Association of Scholars. And let's suppose that two students both turn in the exact same essays. Of course, they turn them in two days apart. They also have different titles, yet they are both worded exactly the same and both students insist neither is about eradicating ethnic studies, I might be suspicious.
As a Librotraficante who has spent the last year smuggling books banned by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's oppressive Arizona House Bill 2281, the legal trigger to prohibit Mexican-American Studies in her state, TXSB1128 reeks of her cheap perfume and sulfur: it micromanages the class room, it's very vague, and it raises more questions than answers. It will also make History boring.
The Librotraficantes met in person with Capriglione himself and a member of Patrick's staff. Both say the Republican legislators did not work together on this or are familiar with the legislation enacted by Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer. They must not own televisions.
Then which misfit muses whispered into both of their ears and "inspired" them to write the exact same bill?
This course is so comprehensive that it stops just short of discussing race, gender, or class?
Then which muses will design these incomprehensible comprehensive history courses?
What else have those muses designed: entire curriculums, standardized testing kits for high school exit exams, college entrance exams, college exit exams?
There are just too many questions and loose ends for me to trust the educational system to SB2811, HB1938 or anyone who supports these bills.
And really, does the Republican Party want to be known as the anti-"Grateful Dead and Day of the Dead" party?