We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Friday, March 10, 2017

Arkansas bill would ban Howard Zinn’s writings from classrooms

Click here to access a 6:36m interview (with transcript) conducted by Free Speech Radio's Shannon Young with Deborah Menkart, Executive Director of Teaching for Change and Co-Director of the Zinn Education Project.

However it is clear that Zinn's history book is only a book that is available in some (likely a tiny minority) of schools. Most public schools rely on textbooks that are manufactured by book publishers as I learned from reading this article subtitled "A former schoolbook editor parses the politics of educational publishing". From memory I knew that the Texas Board of Education dominated textbook publishing for most schools across the US, but it appears from an article published more recently in The New York Review of Books that this is still the case, but perhaps less so than 40 to 50 years ago. Once again, we see the powerful influence of the rich--this time on the content of public school textbooks.
Some extremely rich Texans have gotten into the board of education election game, putting their money at the disposal of conservative populists. No one has had more impact than James Leininger, the San Antonio physician who has had an intense interest in promoting school vouchers. He backed a group called Texans for Governmental Integrity, which was particularly active in state school board elections. Its most famous campaign was in 1994, when it mailed flyers to voters’ homes in one district, showing a black man kissing a white man and claiming that the Democratic incumbent had voted for textbooks that promoted homosexuality. Another organization Leininger has supported, the Heidi Group, sent out a prayer calendar in 1998, which unnervingly urged the right-to-life faithful to devote one day to praying that a San Antonio doctor who performed abortions “will come to see Jesus face to face.”

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