AP's Castro Can't Hold In Bias (and Perhaps Ignorance) in Report on Texas Curriculum Vote

TexasIt would not surprise me if the Associated Press's April Castro has spent the last 10 weeks gritting her teeth non-stop.

In March (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), she was clearly peeved at the Texas State Board of Education. In a supposedly objective news story entitled "Texas ed board vote reflects far-right influences," she decried a "faction" (actually a nearly two-thirds majority) of Board members for "injecting conservative ideals into social studies, history and economics lessons."

I will take that as an admission that such ideals have previously been absent or barely present.

Friday, non-appreciative April was tasked with covering the Board's final adoption vote that ratified proposed curriculum changes. If we are to believe her (I know, that's dangerous), improvements (my word, certainly not hers) in the meantime appear to have been strengthened the reality basis, if you will, of the curriculum.

Here are the first five paragraphs of Ms. Castro's report (link is dynamic and subject to change). There are lots of errors in those paragraphs alone; readers are invited to see if they can catch the big cahuna:

APonTXcurriculum052110

So many errors, so little time. I'll hit the three biggest.

First, Ms. Castro is clever in saying that the curriculum "amends or waters down" the teaching of religious freedoms, but that shouldn't fool anyone here. She's distressed about alleged "watering down." The fact is, if the curriculum really does go back to the constitutional basis for religious freedoms, it will make it clear that public expressions of religious belief are not forbidden, or even unwelcome, as they clearly are today (that is, if they are conservative or prolife; religious pronouncements from the likes of Nancy Pelosi on the religious basis for having an open-borders policy on immigration are of course more than welcome).

Second, Castro states the degree of influence the Texas Board's guidelines will have on textbooks elsewhere as if it's an established fact. Sadly, it's not (sadly, because they're badly in need of improvement in so many other states). As Brian Thevenot at the Texas Tribune explained at post entitled "The Textbook Myth" in late March:

... liberal-to-moderate contemporaries in other states need not fret, textbook industry experts say. Though Texas has been painted in scores of media reports as the big dog that wags the textbook industry tail, that’s simply no longer true — and will become even less true in the future, as technological advances and political shifts transform the marketplace, said Jay Diskey, executive director of the Association of American Publishers. Diskey calls the persistent reports of Texas dominating the market an “urban myth.” Yet the myth persists.

“I’ve been in this job about three and a half years, and I see it reported all the time,” Diskey said. “I give my explanation to reporters, and about half of them believe me and half of them don’t.”

On the other hand, the easier ability to self-publish could lead to greater selection of available textbooks from nontraditional publishers who, if they pursue the historical truth, would tend to put on works that are more accurate and constitutionally based than the offerings so many students must currently endure. The biggest hurdle for all of them would be getting approved by left-dominated boards of education in other states.

That's two major errors, but by no means the biggest, which is this statement:

... the board dilutes the rationale for the separation of church and state in a high school government class, noting that the words were not in the Constitution ...

I hope Ms. Castro is being "clever" and not ignorant. The words involved ARE NOT in the Constitution, and never have been. Either April is "cleverly" implying that they used to not be there but are now (wrong), or she just doesn't have her grammar down.

Other examples of things that bother Ms. Castro about the Lone Star State's newly adopted curriculum:

  • "... (it) strengthened requirements on teaching the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers and required that the U.S. government be referred to as a 'constitutional republic,' rather than 'democratic.'" Facts are stubborn things, dear.
  • "Students will be required to study the decline in the value of the U.S. dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard." Oh the humanity.
  • "They also required students to evaluate efforts by global organizations such as the United Nations to undermine U.S. sovereignty." Can you say "Copenhagen," April?

As I noted in March, the real question should be why items such as these haven't been taught all along. The answer is that school curricula have been politicized by commission and omission for decades. The Texas Board appears, finally, to be injecting a whiff of sanity into things.

Especially as it concerns religious freedom, it's time for Ms. Castro to consider going back to school to catch up on her history. In Texas.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.