It’s Not About Us Right Now: Let’s Not Forget the Real Victims of the Texas Textbook Disaster

When I read Amanda Marcotte’s discussion of the new Texas textbook requirements, my mind  immediately left the points she made and began contemplating all of the collateral consequences this will have, and how we will see them ripple for, potentially, generations. Amanda talks about how the purpose of the legislation seems to have been to piss off liberals.  Maybe so, but it’s almost too obvious to point out that really, the people who are going to suffer here aren’t the liberals who are angry – it’s the children, at least directly.

Will this cause a massive brain drain from Texas? Before you crack a joke remember that UT Austin is a huge, world-class school — will it mean that in a few years, none of the elite universities in the country will accept students from Texas public schools? What will it mean for progressive (or just rational) educators in Texas?

I can’t imagine being a teacher in Texas and being expected to teach this stuff.  Educators go into that field because they want to educate – what will they do?  Probably, many of them will leave.  There will not only be this terrible textbook mess, then – there will also be literally no good teachers left in Texas.  The good ones would leave or, refusing to teach this nonsense, be fired.

Of course there’s also a class element here isn’t there? The only schools affected by this are public schools, of course – so what’s going to happen is that the same crushing class divide between public and private schools will become further ingrained.  Already with the fallout of No Child Left Behind, as low-performing schools lose funding, the parents of kids who have any money at all take the kids either out of district or into private school, so the schools, already underfunded, begin to fall away and continue into a cycle of no funding –> low performance, ad nauseum.  As this textbook plan is implemented, rational parents who have money will move their kids into private schools, whereas the poor kids will have to stay and be forced to receive this “education.”

And since students from Texas public schools will be unable to compete with applicants in other districts, no one from these schools will be able to get into university, which will further enforce the divide between rich and poor and, at least in Texas, hammer the final nail in the coffin of the middle class.

After considering at least these consequences first, then it’s fair to consider the rest of the country (and not just liberals).  Students from the US can’t keep up with graduates from other countries in math and science.  We already lag behind several far less economically developed countries in education.  By teaching abject falsehoods, we’re not just hurting kids from Texas, we’re further relegating US graduates into the second and third tier of competitiveness for high tech, science-related, math-related, engineering, or related fields.  That, let me be clear – that is fucking tragic.

The bottom line here is that the people on the front line of this are the kids who are going to be robbed of their chance at an education – the most valuable thing, in my opinion, any one person can ever have, and also the best possible path to self-enrichment and financial independence.

After that – well, after that I think we are going to see collateral consequences of this the likes of which would surprise even the most astute social observer.  Don’t forget – this isn’t going to just affect Texas, it’ll be far more widespread than that. In my constant mental struggle between whether these people are stupid or evil, dooming a generation to ignorance and poverty (and dooming our country along with them), because the truth isn’t convenient — that’s a mark of pure, unadulterated evil.

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