Robert C. Koons: Liberal Bias Evident in Simplistic Narrative in Which Powerful Federal Government is Sole Engine of Progress and Equality

Roundup: Media's Take

[Koons is a professor of philosophy at the University of Texas. The opinions expressed here are his and do not reflect the views of the university.]

The State Board of Education's proposed revisions for K-12 social studies curricula have come under fire from a coalition of left-leaning politicians and their academic allies. Contrary to what an irresponsible media campaign would lead you to believe, the state board has taken a few, small steps in the direction of promoting objectivity in our educational standards, and it is the board's critics who are seeking to perpetuate a biased and one-sided treatment of our nation's history.

Studies have revealed how unbalanced America's humanities departments are. Democrats and Greens outnumber Republicans by 9 or 10 to one (according to The New York Times). In the history department at the University of Texas, out of 50 registered voters, only one is a Republican. Moderate and conservative Democrats are also rare.

This political slant is reinforced by the economics of scholarship: Academic historians have been trained and have invested their careers in a profession that counts as legitimate only those subfields that support the leftist orthodoxy. Military history, for example, has almost entirely died off: Not a single professor of history at UT lists military history as a specialty, while dozens list sexuality, ethnicity and anticolonialism.

This bias expresses itself in the selection of events, persons and movements by textbook authors, who tell a simplistic narrative in which an ever more powerful federal government is the sole engine of progress and equality. Thus, robber barons, the New Deal, and the civil rights movement are in, but the contributions of inventors and entrepreneurs, the decline of the family, and the failures of welfare programs and public education are out.

The board has strengthened the curriculum standards in ways that any scholar should recognize, adding the following:

Inclusion of neglected founders, including John Jay, Charles Carroll, John Peter Muhlenberg, John Witherspoon and John Trumbull, representing the religious diversity of early America....

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