Texas Is Debuting Textbooks That Downplay Jim Crow and Frame Slavery as a Side Issue in the Civil War

User beware.

Photo by Valkr/Shutterstock

I grew up in Texas; I love the state deeply. But I am not raising my children there, in part because I want them to get a solid public education undistorted by the partisan fictions that are inundating Texas’ textbooks.

The embarrassments started five years ago, when the Texas Board of Education (as of last month chaired, incidentally, by a religious homeschooler who has never sent her kids to public school) voted along party lines to sanitize American history from a conservative standpoint. Or, as the leader of the board told the New York Times at the time, “We are adding balance. History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”


The board’s revisions are a very big deal, because Texas isn’t just large in landmass but in population: Three of the 10 largest cities in the country are there. In the new standards passed, said “balance” consisted of upping the Founding Fathers’ commitment to Christianity, referring to capitalism (a term that the board believes has a “negative connotation”) as the “free enterprise system,” and offering a softer take on McCarthyism. And that’s just in social studies; we’ll leave the never-ending campaign to replace the “controversial” subject of evolution with a more measured conversation about intelligent design for another day.


Most egregious of all was Texas’ recasting of the slave trade as the “Atlantic triangular trade.” The textbooks based on these new standards, which will debut in Texas schools next month, barely touch on the subject of segregation, much less Jim Crow or the KKK, according to a report Sunday in the Washington Post. And the causes of the Civil War get the most distorted treatment of all. From the Post story:


[C]hildren are supposed to learn that the conflict was caused by “sectionalism, states’ rights and slavery” — written deliberately in that order to telegraph slavery’s secondary role in driving the conflict … .

That’s the totally unskewed perspective that will be presented to almost five million Texas students the same summer that Confederate flag-brandishing Dylann Roof gunned down black worshippers at their church in Charleston.

In his speech at the funeral for pastor Clementa Pinckney, President Obama said of the Confederate flag,  “Removing the flag from this state’s Capitol would not be an act of political correctness, it would not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers, it would simply be an acknowledgement that the cause for which they fought, the cause of slavery, was wrong.”

Texas students of the future could be forgiven for not knowing what he’s talking about.