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Why the Texas Textbook Wars Matter to Every American

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Everyone’s heard the advertisement that claims, "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." While that’s questionable, one thing that is not questionable is that what happens in the Texas education battle will not just stay in Texas.

What your kids learn about historical figures like Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein most likely depends on what happens in Texas in the next two days.

Texas is in the process of adopting its social studies standards, which only happens every ten years. The standards cover U.S. Government, American History, World History, and more, and they affect how students in grades K – 12 see America, its founding principles, and its heroes for the next decade.

More than that, because Texas is one of the largest consumers of textbooks in the nation, publishers use these curriculum standards for textbooks that are distributed in nearly every state in the union. Thus, what happens in Texas will impact the nation.

Probably for that reason, a liberal onslaught has been unleashed to try to influence these education standards. An unelected review panel, not the elected members of Texas State Board of Education (SBOE), attempted to push through a number of highly questionable changes to the standards – removing Independence Day, Neil Armstrong, Daniel Boone, and Christopher Columbus – from them. They even dumped Christmas and replaced it with Diwali. You can’t make this stuff up! After a huge outcry from citizens and strong leadership by conservatives on the Texas State Board of Education, each of these changes was reversed.

Sadly, the attacks didn’t stop there. Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison were removed from World History, yet Mary Kay and Wallace Amos (of Famous Amos Cookies) were added, it appears, for more “diversity.” That’s unbelievable. Edison is the greatest inventor in American history with over 1,000 patents; oh, and by the way, that Einstein guy was pretty successful too!

Again, that’s part of why the liberals attack. They don’t like the concept of American exceptionalism, both by those who were born here and by the other great high-skilled men and women who are so attracted to the United States that they moved here from other countries.

Thankfully, the conservatives on the SBOE once again held the line. Edison and Einstein are back in World History. An attack to remove “B.C.” and “A.D.” -- denoting historical time periods before and after the birth of Christ – also lost, and, so far, the attempt to remove the statement about the religious basis of the founding of the country has failed.

These battles are not over. More votes are coming.

However, we should be encouraged. A few years ago, these attacks might have slipped through. People who were too busy and uninformed in years past are speaking out now as never before and they are realizing that their stewardship is required. As one of our great Founders, Benjamin Franklin, said, “You have a Republic, if you can keep it.”

The American people – parents, teachers, and other concerned citizens – are holding firm. Thousands of people are defending their Republic by testifying before the Board, making phone calls, and sending e-mails. It’s working – conservative Board members are standing their ground, and the next generation of this country will benefit. If we continue to hold strong, our children will know about the founding principles of this country. They will know what makes it great, and they will then recognize it -- in the future -- when leaders try to violate those principles.

America is exceptional. It is the greatest country on the face of the earth… but to borrow from Franklin, only “if we can keep it.”

Kelly Shackelford, Esq., is president and CEO of Liberty Institute, a post he has held since 1997. A constitutional scholar, Mr. Shackelford has argued cases before the U.S. and Texas Supreme Courts and has testified before the U.S. Congress and the Texas Legislature. Liberty Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting freedoms and strengthening families in Texas and nationwide.

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Kelly Shackelford, Esq., is President and CEO of Liberty Institute, the nation’s largest legal organization dedicated solely to defending and restoring religious liberty in America. Email the Liberty Institute:  info@libertyinstitute.org.