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Texas going forward with ultra-conservative history textbooks

Could Texas' Gingrich-Based High School History Curriculum Go National? | TPMMuckraker The problem is this: the curricula of Texas and California are used by the rest of the nation. They are the largest states that buy books for the entire state, so their choices drive the industry. In Texas, they have cut out Abraham Lincoln, the suffragettes, martin Luther King jr., and the entire Civil Rights movement in order to make more space for praising Republican politicians and notable Protestants.
The GOP-controlled State Board of Education is working on a new set of statewide textbook standards for, among other subjects, U.S. History Studies Since Reconstruction. And it turns out what the board decides may end up having implications far beyond the Lone Star State. The first draft of the standards, released at the end of July, is a doozy. It lays out a kind of Human Events version of U.S. history. Approved textbooks, the standards say, must teach the Texan student to "identify significant conservative advocacy organizations and individuals, such as Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly, and the Moral Majority." No analogous liberal figures or groups are required, prompting protests from some legislators and committee members The standards on Nixon: "describe Richard M. Nixon's role in the normalization of relations with China and the policy of detente." On Reagan: "describe Ronald Reagan's role in restoring national confidence, such as Reaganomics and Peace with Strength." (That's it.) The Cold War section is rendered as "U.S. responses to Soviet aggression after World War II ... "

Remember: These Same Folks Are Transcribing Our Medical Records and Editing Our Law References

BBC NEWS | South Asia | One giant slip in...

September 01, 2009

Ursula K LeGuin reviews Margaret Atwood's "The Year of the Flood"

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood | Book review | Books | The Guardian
To my mind, The Handmaid's Tale, Oryx and Crake and now The Year of the Flood all exemplify one of the things science fiction does, which is to extrapolate imaginatively from current trends and events to a near-future that's half prediction, half satire. But Margaret Atwood doesn't want any of her books to be called science fiction. In her recent, brilliant essay collection, Moving Targets, she says that everything that happens in her novels is possible and may even have already happened, so they can't be science fiction, which is "fiction in which things happen that are not possible today". This arbitrarily restrictive definition seems designed to protect her novels from being relegated to a genre still shunned by hidebound readers, reviewers and prize-awarders. She doesn't want the literary bigots to shove her into the literary ghetto. . . .
Needless to say, the whole thing is worth reading.

August 29, 2009

From the grave, Bush Administration kills Reading Rainbow, the show that taught kids why to read

tl;dr: Teaching kids to learn to love reading is less important than drilling phonics and spelling. The national nightmare continues. The Obama Administration is no better. Mr. President, Arne Duncan is the cancer. 'Reading Rainbow' Reaches Its Final Chapter : NPR
The show's run is ending, Grant explains, because no one — not the station, not PBS, not the Corporation for Public Broadcasting — will put up the several hundred thousand dollars needed to renew the show's broadcast rights. Grant says the funding crunch is partially to blame, but the decision to end Reading Rainbow can also be traced to a shift in the philosophy of educational television programming. The change started with the Department of Education under the Bush administration, he explains, which wanted to see a much heavier focus on the basic tools of reading — like phonics and spelling. Grant says that PBS, CPB and the Department of Education put significant funding toward programming that would teach kids how to read — but that's not what Reading Rainbow was trying to do. "Reading Rainbow taught kids why to read," Grant says. "You know, the love of reading — [the show] encouraged kids to pick up a book and to read."

August 28, 2009

Recommended Reading: The Glister by John Burnside

The Glister My one-sentence pitch for this book: "A very...

August 26, 2009

Stupidity 101

Occidental College Offers Course In Stupidity
We honestly don't know what's funnier the class title or the hyper-deconstructionist language used in the course description. Only in the bubble of the academy is it acceptable to use these words and phrases: organicity, postmodern discourse, Beevis and Butthead.
180. STUPIDITY. Stupidity is neither ignorance nor organicity, but rather, a corollary of knowing and an element of normalcy, the double of intelligence rather than its opposite. It is an artifact of our nature as finite beings and one of the most powerful determinants of human destiny. Stupidity is always the name of the Other, and it is the sign of the feminine. This course in Critical Psychology follows the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, Gilles Deleuze, and most recently, Avital Ronell, in a philosophical examination of those operations and technologies that we conduct in order to render ourselves uncomprehending. Stupidity, which has been evicted from the philosophical premises and dumbed down by psychometric psychology, has returned in the postmodern discourse against Nation, Self, and Truth and makes itself felt in political life ranging from the presidency to Beevis and Butthead. This course examines stupidity.