Sunday, July 03, 2022

“When I Look Back On All The Crap I Learned In High School”

A new civics training program for public school teachers in Florida says it is a “misconception” that “the founders desired strict separation of church and state,” the Washington Post reports. 
Driving the news: That and other content in a state-sponsored training course has raised eyebrows among some who have participated and felt it was omitting unflattering information about the country's founders, pushing inaccuracies and centering religious ideas, per the Post. 
The Constitution explicitly bars the government from “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Scholars interpret the passage to require a separation of church and state, per the Post. 
In another example, the training states that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were against slavery, while omitting the fact that each owned enslaved people.
This would lead me to despair, if I hadn’t been through high school in the South in the’70’s. We were taught the Civil War was fought over states’ rights (AND NOTHING ELSE!) and even though the Civil Rights movement had been going on since before I was born and our schools were only integrated when I entered high school, nothing was said about it. We were fighting Communism in Vietnam (they told us) but all you could know about Marxism was that it was bad. That was all our teachers were allowed to say.

And believe me, “strict separation of church and state” was hardly actively encouraged.

So this looks as familiar as the back of my hand. Of course I hold in my hand access to more information than was available to me in all the libraries on the campus of UT-Austin (there were several). And few of us read the textbooks in school. Those of us who actually wanted to learn something knew where to find it; and that’s so much easier now one almost wonders why the schools still buy textbooks. Give it a few more years and they probably won’t.

So we move forward, and we move backwards. But the libraries that kept me from being as ignorant as the school district wanted me to be are in my hand now. In everyone’s hands. Forward a bit; back a bit less. Thus do we at least maintain.

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