The Revisionaries

When it comes to national elections, political pundits have long asserted that: “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation.” The same has oft been said of Texas and the textbook market, one reason that many eyes followed the 2010 debate in the Lone Star State over adding elements of creationism and conservative ideology to the state’s science and social-studies standards. (Certainly the adoption of the Common Core State Standards by forty-five states loosens Texas’s grip on textbook design for English language arts and math—but the more controversial subjects of science and history remain tightly controlled.) This documentary film tracks the lengths to which some members of the Texas Board of Education (Don McLeroy, a dentist, and Kathy Dunbar, a lawyer) went to infuse nonsense into their state’s academic standards. In one scene, the pair work to remove a standard on separation of church and state. In another, they try to poke holes in the state’s science standards dealing with evolution. While slow-moving at points, the overall narrative woven by this documentary is interesting—and the underlying messages are important: Texas’s control of textbook content reaches past its borders (a trend that will continue for many subjects even after CCSS-aligned material is published). Forcing all to pay attention to what happens within them.

SOURCE: Scott Thurman, The Revisionaries (New York, NY: Kino Lorber Incorporated, 2012).

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