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Thomas Jefferson Sneaks Back into Texas Textbooks

No surprise here: The Texas State Board of Education voted to approve changes to the state's social studies curriculum by a margin of 9 to 5 down party lines. (Natch.) But, it wasn't a total miscarriage of justice, as Thomas Jefferson—who you may recall was the third president of the United States—snuck back into the curriculum at the last minute.

According to a post on the Dallas Morning News' Trail Blazers blog:
The deletion of Jefferson -- whose separation of church-state philosophy doesn't get high marks among Christian conservatives -- sparked a flurry of criticism on cable TV, where some pundits held the board up to ridicule. So today, members put Jefferson back on the list of writers including John Locke, Thomas Aquinas and William Blackstone.

Another last minute addition was the name of our current commander-in-chief, who was simply referred to as the first black person elected president. There was some discussion about whether or not to include Barack Obama's middle name, Hussein. As it stood at the final vote, he will be identified as "Barack Obama."

Arne Duncan, secretary of education, told CNN last week that he doesn't believe that the curriculum changes in Texas will spread. (Video below.) "Whatever Texas decides," he said, "I don't think there will be large ripple effects around the country."

Duncan also criticized the ideological reasons behind the curriculum changes. His comments followed those of Rod Paige, education secretary under George W. Bush, who said “History should be what history is, not what we would like for it to be to meet a political ideology.”

Now that the changes are official, it will be interesting to see what this does to the textbook industry. California, the largest school system in the country, is already taking steps to make sure these changes don't enter textbooks used in that state. So, will there be two versions of history textbooks for states to choose from?


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