Texas school officials attempt to whitewash history, downplay slavery in textbooks

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For five million students in Texas, racial segregation and slavery will be secondary issues in history classes, with Jim Crow and the KKK not even addressed at all in US history coursework.

According to board members of the state’s education board, these students will also receive textbooks that list the causes of the Civil War as “sectionalism, states’ rights and slavery,” reports the Washington Post. Slavery is listed last as a cause and is downplayed in importance.

Pat Hardy, a Republican board member, claimed in 2010 that the standards were accurate, because slavery was a “side issue to the Civil War.” He went on to say, “There would be those who would say the reason for the Civil War was over slavery. No. It was over states’ rights.”

James Grossman, the executive director of the American Historical Association, said that states’ rights did, in fact, play a role in the war. But the right the Southern states wanted to protect was the right to slavery.

“The War happened only because of the determination of the leadership of eleven states to defend the right of their residents to own other human beings,” Grossman wrote in an e-mail to the Post. “The Civil War was fought over the issue of slavery.”

Former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, a Republican, openly criticized the Texas State Board of Education for its curriculum adjustments.

“I’m of the view that the history of slavery and civil rights are dominant elements of our history and have shaped who we are today,” Paige told the Texas Tribune during a 2010 interview. “We may not like our history, but it’s history, and it’s important to us today.”

Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network, an advocacy organization that has long been critical of the way Texas has handled its teaching of social studies, said that the education standards were worrisome, to say the very least.

“It’s the obvious question, it seems to me. Not only are we worried about the flags and statues and all that, but what the hell are kids learning?”