Now that the Texas Board of Education has voted to rewrite the state’s social studies curriculum to reflect a conservative ideal of America, it bears taking a closer look at how the standard’s chief proponent views the world.
In a last-minute amendment offered a week before Friday’s final vote, board member Don McLeroy offered us a bizarre glimpse into his version of reality. In his proposal, he had written that a warm-and-fuzzy fictional work of Thomas Kinkade (Painter of Light ™) should be used in history class to balance teaching students about “the immigrant experience presented by muckrakers and reform leaders such as Upton Sinclair, Susan B. Anthony, Ida B. Wells, and W. E. B. DuBois on American society.”
In the proposed amendment, which he distributed to fellow board members, he suggested that students should also learn about the “optimism of immigrants including Jean Pierre Godet as told in Thomas Kinkade’s The Spirit of America.”
Sure, Mr. Godot doesn’t exist, as McLeroy probably figured out after he proposed the change, which may be why he opted against presenting it formally for a vote. But that’s no reason why we can’t quote Mr. Godet to our children not saying things like, “I love America for giving so many of us the right to dream a new dream.”
As McLeroy wrote, “Such words were as lost on the muckrakers as they are on many modern historians obsessed by oppression.”
Because you know, lynching, what a bummer. So why get hung up on the truth? In history class?
McLeroy’s reason for wanting to promote the fictitious Mr. Godet? “Diversity of opinion and balanced presentation.”
It’s interesting that McLeroy chose Kinkade’s work to represent his vision of what children should learn. I was perusing through the painter’s online catalog and ran across Kinkade’s own description of one of his productions:
The nostalgic vision of life is often described as seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. This celebration of community, set in simpler times, near the start of the 20th century, is perhaps best viewed through such tinted lenses!
Or as Tinker Bell says, if you wish hard enough, it will come true.