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Open letter to my college classmates, including and especially those who teach yoga, and/or live in the northeast, and/or who would never even consider living in Texas among so many Deplorables:
Stop spreading misinformation, y’all. Now that I’m a Texan, I am compelled to defend my home state from your baseless attacks. The biased and uninformed tweets and memes that you post have the potential to further damage any remaining goodwill that might still exist in our fraying Republic. By sharing misinformation with the clear intent to mischaracterize and denigrate a well-meaning and carefully written Texas law, you demonstrate your disdain for your fellow Americans and your complete lack of interest in making even a minimal effort to understand them. Your goal is clearly to present the newly enacted sections of the Texas law on teaching social studies in its public schools as completely backward. The tweet that you shared from NBC News presents some factual information, but it does so in such a misleading way as to be untrue. If NBC had reported that the “school administrator [mistakenly] advised teachers” to include books about the Holocaust and books with an opposing perspective, then that would have truthfully captured to nature of what transpired. One word can make a big difference. Isn’t it funny how these frequent mistakes or omissions by “news” organizations always seem to support a preferred narrative?
I’m no expert on the Texas law or Carroll Independent School District administrators, but it wasn’t that hard to find the School District’s refutation of this school administrator’s “advice.” And I found it on NPR, so you don’t even have to read some objectionable right-wing news outlet to read that “the comments made were in no way to convey that the Holocaust was anything less than a terrible event in history.” Furthermore, Lane Ledbetter, the Superintendent of Schools explained that “we recognize there are not two sides of the Holocaust….As we continue to work through implementation of HB3979, we also understand this bill does not require an opposing viewpoint on historical facts.”
You followed the NBC post with two more misleading posts about the same incident, one in which text referencing a teacher being reprimanded for having an anti-racism book in her classroom is encircled boldly in red. This seems intended to insinuate that the Carroll school board and probably most of the residents of the school district are racists. After all, you must think, who would object to an anti-racist book except a bunch of racists? It’s clear why this post is framed in this way and why the anti-racism controversy is emphasized, but it’s not at all clear from the information provided how to fully evaluate the actions of the school board, the teacher, or the parent involved. What was the book? What does anti-racism mean to all the parties? By any chance, did the book purport to teach white children that they are inherently racist? Could that be a reason for the parent’s objection? Do you care?
Finally, you post some quotes from a misinformed elementary school teacher. She appears to share your lack of curiosity about the Texas law that she is partly responsible for implementing. The teacher expresses fear that teachers will be punished for having certain books in their classrooms, and she makes clear that it’s not just the historical accuracy of the Holocaust that’s at stake. She supposedly believes that teachers are expected to present “opposing perspectives” on slavery. And it’s clear that you sympathize with the poor teachers not only in Carroll ISD, but in all of Texas because you’re sure that what the misinformed school administrator and teacher are saying is true. The fact that it’s not even close to true doesn’t seem to occur to you. Even though you obviously have internet access, you are so incurious that you have never thought to read the original text of the Texas law. As some might say, just Google it. I did. For your edification, here is the relevant text from H.B. No. 3979, which was signed into law by Governor Abbott on June 16, 2021:
“For any social studies course in the required curriculum:
(1) a teacher may not be compelled to discuss a particular current event or widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs;
(2) a teacher who chooses to discuss a topic described by Subdivision (1) shall, to the best of the teacher’s ability, strive to explore the topic from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective;”
Thankfully, the Holocaust and American slavery are not current events. Next time, do a little research before you share inaccurate and harmful content to your friends and family. If you have an issue with the actual text of the law, its aims, or its merits, go ahead and make your case. We can’t be friends if you aren’t going to approach important matters of public interest in good faith.Published in