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Caution: revisionism at work

Posted by on Mar 17, 2010 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Like the Chrysler ad depicting three cars with the narrator saying George Washington’s first car had a hemi engine, historical revision spreads into the new decade.

We tend to associate historical revisionism with changes made in Soviet history following WW2 and the fall of the soviet bloc when leaders changed historical and political concepts to reflect a then current political atmosphere.

Now it might be coming to textbooks nearer home.

According to a New York Times story, Texas’ board of education approved conservative-led changes to social studies curriculum that “will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks.”

The board, which consists of no historians, sociologists or economists, created changes to concepts like the separation of church and state and the secular nature of the American revolution, the article reported.

Despite immediate concern over the effects in history and government classes, one must also wonder if similar revisions could work their way into how the First Amendment and freedom of expression is played in journalism texts and curriculum:

• That high school students have no First Amendment protections except those deemed appropriate by school officials
• That students have no right to complain about decisions made in their best interests by school officials because of in loco parentis, and
• That prior review is designed to simply make sure the right view of history is recorded.

After all, according to the Times article, one of the conservatives on the board said, “We are adding balance. History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”

If that happens, Walter Cronkite’s famous close to news broadcasts will become “And that’s the way it was, we think. At least for now. Maybe.”


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