Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Revisionaries: New documentary examines the attempt by religious fundamentalists to undermine the public education system one textbook at a time.

Courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter:

Revolving around the State Board of Education's review of textbook standards, the film opens with a worrisome market-based observation: Since Texas and California are the country's largest purchasers of textbooks, anything unlikely to meet Texas standards may well not get published. And since BOE elections are down-ticket races most voters barely even notice, it doesn't take much for an outsider to become one of the most important figures in the U.S. education system. 

Take Don McLeroy, a dentist whose strict interpretation of the Bible holds that the earth was created less than ten thousand years ago. Though his only education experience is teaching Sunday School, McLeroy was the chair of the BOE for almost two years -- a period during which the board examined guidelines for the science texts that would mold young minds for years to come. 

McLeroy is a decent fellow, and unlike some of Rick Perry's other political appointees (like Forensic Science Commission officer John Bradley, in the recent doc Incendiary) he didn't steamroll opponents with underhanded bureaucratic maneuvers. But whatever he could do in good conscience to weaken textbooks' presentation of the theory of Evolution, he did. 

Essentially this McLeroy fellow's overriding problem with Evolution was that he simply did not understand it.  He much preferred the children's fable presented in the Bible to the complexity of a scientific theory.

Therefore he felt perfectly justified, due to his deep religious faith, to remove from public school textbooks the information that challenged his religious beliefs and made him think too much.

THIS kind of intellectual laziness and prejudice toward education is permeating, not just our public school system in this country, but also our politics. 

The message being delivered by Fundamentalists, Conservatives, and Republicans is do not trouble yourself with thinking, it is much TOO hard. Instead believe, and sleep the restful sleep of the ignorant, while your rights and independence are stripped from you like valuables from a newly murdered corpse.

The Founders of this country knew what they were doing in separating church and state, however even THEY must have known that was a separation that would have to be enforced and protected, against "decent fellows" like Don McLeroy.

There is a must see interview that Stephen Colbert conducted with McLeroy that you can watch here.

The problem with defending ourselves against attack by anti-education religious forces is that there are so many truly kind people who feel under personal attack when their faith is challenged or their religion called out for aggressive actions. However in my opinion to stay silent is to demonstrate cowardice in the face of an enemy that ultimately cares little about faith, and everything about control.


  1. Anonymous5:00 AM

    This is exactly why Repubs want to get rid of the Dept of Education. They also have a plan to elect more funnies to school boards to brig fiction god back into the classrooms.

  2. Anonymous5:01 AM

    I am one of those kind (hopefully!) religious people of whom you speak, and I do not feel under personal attack regarding your protests against revisionism in public school textbooks. I fully agree with you on this. I do not expect, or wish, for you to stay silent on this topic.

    What I don't care for is the disrespect that has become part and parcel of your schtick on Christianity in particular, and which permeates the threads here on Atheism vs. Religious belief.

    Keep on keepin' on the good fight against this specific movement, however - absolutely. I have no idea if these maniacs want control or if they actually believe in what they are doing, but it doesn't matter. They don't get to preach to the youth in our pluralistic society in this way.

    1. Anonymous9:04 AM

      Thanks for your comment!


    2. Anonymous12:37 PM

      Specifically, to what disrespect do you refer?

  3. Anonymous5:08 AM

    The public education system needs no undermining when it's completely worthless as it is. Thanks unions for messing up yet ANOTHER facet of society. Greedy aholes.

    1. Anonymous5:39 AM

      Unions? Unions that pay people a decent wage? Oh, fundy trolly you just outed yourself!
      We all know how Cons hate the Unions!
      Fuck Off.
      Keep your shitty ass religion out of the govt and out of public schools!

  4. Even with all the phony garbage I’ve seen, I’m still not an atheist; I just don’t follow organized religion with its bleeding sheep and wolf packs.

  5. I thought Don McLeroy was an extremely good sport considering he was extremely smacked down...

    ... by a master.

  6. Anonymous8:35 AM

    And there you have it: "American Exceptionalism"...everything but the facts.

  7. Maple9:43 AM

    I caught the last minute or so of Colbert's interview and was gobsmacked by the utter stupidity of his guest, who turned out to be McLeroy. Wonder how Stephen managed to keep a straight face....
    BTW, in response to 6:01 AM, since this is Gryphen's blog, I'd suggest he is entitled to expound any which way he prefers on any subject, including religion. If you don't like what he says, you certainly are under no obligation to read it, but it isn't within your rights to tell him what NOT to write!

  8. California buys just as many textbooks as Texas and California will NOT buy textbooks that are written to meet Texas state board of ed standards.

    Because Californians are not STUPID.

    So if the other states are going to choose between the two, they can choose the California texts. That will leave Texas, Alaska, Florida and a few other mouth drooling red states to buy the rest.

    With common core standards agreed upon by almost all states (except Texas and Alaska) standardized tests will be based on the common core. That means if your Texas textbook is in conflict, you're going to get that answer wrong on the standardized tests.

    Sucks to be you.

    I will say one positive thing. Texas understand the value and need for certified teacher librarians with masters degrees in library science in their schools. California does not. There is one teacher librarian for every 6,000 students in California. It's a budget thing. When you need money for literacy programs, you can find it by eliminating the school librarians. Right?

    (This is what comes of AMATEURS being allowed to make decisions for professional educators.)

  9. Anita Winecooler7:16 PM

    The Colbert Smackdown was excellent! What pissed me off regarding creationism, was my child's schools sent home mimeographed papers to be added to the chapters on Darwinism and Creationists myths (along with chapter and verse from the King James Bible) to PUBLIC SCHOOL.
    When the parents got upset and showed up, it was explained that the added papers were "Optional" because there was a "demand" for it. When the School Board couldn't find it in the curriculum, nor produce evidence of "the demand" for the myth, it was unceremoniously pulled from the texts before it ever hit the School Board.

    I choose to send my kids to public school to be taught facts, science, and math. I defend people's right to teach creationism, but on their own dime, own time, and in their religious schools. Don't waste my kid's time with your "beliefs".

    The only "fables" I want my kids to learn are from "Aesop", "the Canturbury Tales" and "Harry Potter"

  10. Anonymous6:14 AM

    My siblings and I attended publuc school and went to religious education class at our Catholic church. My children were educated the same seperating religious education to the church.

    There are so many religions practiced by Americans. I can't grasp one group manipulating their religious beliefs in public education demanding their personal beliefs be the only belief.


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