If you want to be frightened for the future of Tennessee, check out this story about our current textbook "controversy" over at the Tennessean.
I want to focus on the part Laurie Cardoza-Moore is playing. As you may recall, Cardoza-Moore is behind the opposition to the Murfreesboro mosque. Not content to rail against imaginary dangers from Middle Tennessee Muslims, she's now spearheading the effort to rid our textbooks of secret bias.
Though, let's be clear. Many school districts' textbooks are so old that Ned McWherter is still governor and Pluto is still a planet in them. So the worry about "bias" in Tennessee's textbooks is just about worrying that kids in affluent school systems might be getting this "biased" information. This is funny, if you think about it, because, if you thought Cardoza-Moore's fight against not-especially-wealthy Muslims was Quixotic, imagine her trying to tell rich people that they should be concerned that textbook publisher Pearson "is not interested in the American way of thinking."
If Cardoza-Moore is the example of "the American way of thinking" I have a feeling she's going to find most rich people aren't that excited about having their kids indoctrinated with it. And lo and behold, she's not been able to get Williamson County to agree that a geography textbook she doesn't like is biased.
The funniest part, though, is this: "Others like Cardoza-Moore believe a law might be in order to hold publishing companies financially and legally responsible for content."
Cardoza-Moore thinks that there should be some kind of legal consequences for publishers if they don't publish what the government likes? I mean, I thought her grasp of the First Amendment was shaky when she opposed the mosque, but this is hilarious. You can't be a champion of the United States and be against freedom of the press. That Cardoza-Moore fancies herself some great patriot when she wants to skirt the rules the Founders put into place is just too much.
So, surely, Governor Haslam will take a stand against this, right? He'll look at the people like Cardoza-Moore who want more say in our textbooks and he'll say "Thanks, but no thanks," right? I mean, he cannot possibly limp-noodle his way out of this.
“I think some laypeople on it would be fine,” Haslam said. “The important thing is to have people who truly are committed to the idea that in Tennessee, every child can learn.”
Oh, Christ. Well, that's an impressive job of missing the point. No one's arguing that children can't learn. We're arguing over what they should be learning. The question is whether a woman who finds secret conspiracies against America that only certain people can discern laced throughout our children's textbooks — which, let's be clear, is the educational equivalent of phrenology — should have a state-wide platform to police the content of those textbooks.
The Governor's inability to address that head-on is pretty scary.