Curriculum

Jon Stewart vs. Texas Board of Education

By Bryan Toporek — March 19, 2010 1 min read

The debate over the Texas Board of Education’s adoption of new social studies guidelines has kicked up a flurry of coverage in the national media this week—most of it not very positive. Here’s a sampling:

The New York Times kicked things off this week with an opinion piece on Monday, calling the revisions “a disturbing intervention by the board’s Republican majority into educational decisions best left to the teachers and scholars who have toiled for almost a year to produce the new curriculum standards.”

On Thursday, the Washington Post found historians to be upset with some of the proposed changes. A professor who has authored some of the most popular history textbooks in the country said that potential changes to his books may leave him uncomfortable promoting his own work.

On The Daily Beast, education historian Diane Ravitch, who seems to be everywhere lately, condemned the politics (both rightward and leftward) of statewide textbook approval processes and argued that “teachers and districts should be free to choose whatever books or textbooks or other learning materials they thought best to reach the state’s academic standards.”

On the blog of the conservative arts journal The New Criterion, writer James Bowman highlighted what characterized as the hypocrisy of criticizing a conservative-leaning curriculum if the current social studies standards have a liberal slant. “Why is the conservative view a political one but the unconservative view not a political one? How does that work, logically?,” Bowman asked.

Finally, in a true sign of national prominence, the controversy received some wry criticism from Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” (Note: Contains suggestive language.)

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.