A Textbook Case: Preserve our future from the one-world alarmists

A recent Houston Chronicle opinion piece “Recapture Texas’ future from zealots, know-nothings” by Brian Leiter referred to individuals whose views he does not accept as zealots, know-nothings, extremists, ignoramuses, medieval, simple-minded, special interest, right wing, and other terms that are not appropriate for a productive discourse on public policy issues. It is disappointing to see that a professor of philosophy at an esteemed public university law school would stoop to such rhetoric. My fourteen year-old daughter knows better than to resort to name-calling to make her point.

Perhaps the professor should take a break from his hysterical rantings to take a lesson in democracy.

The Constitution allows the professor his freedom of speech, which also applies to the 48,000 members of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy. These are citizens who believe in individual liberties, patriotism, and the ideals of our Founding Fathers, including democracy and free enterprise and want to see those concepts in textbooks.

State law is on our side: “The State Board of Education and each school district shall foster the continuation of the tradition of teaching United States and Texas history and the free enterprise system in regular subject matter and in reading courses and in the adoption of textbooks. A primary purpose of the public school curriculum is to prepare thoughtful, active citizens who understand the importance of patriotism and can function productively in a free enterprise society with appreciation for the basic democratic values of our state and national heritage.” (TEC @ 28.002(h).

And Texas law states that parents will be “full partners with educators in the education of their children.” (TEC 4.001 (b).

Aside from the name-calling and inaccuracies, there is a significant difference of perspective between the author of that hysterical piece and our citizen members.

We believe that students should be able to say the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of a school day, yet the professor is working with an Austin-based group which applauded the 9th Circuit Court decision to ban the Pledge of Allegiance from public schools.

We believe parents should participate in the education of their children and that our textbooks should be void of propaganda and activist agendas. We trust informed citizens to make rational decisions. And that requires accurate information.

Unfortunately, the professor’s arguments on two liberal platforms are fatally flawed. Property rights and energy are two important issues. Consider his statement that “every undergraduate economics major has studied the ‘tragedy of the commons,’ the inability of regimes of private ownership to provide for the protection of common resources. (That’s why we have national parks, after all!)”

This explanation of the “tragedy of the commons” is backwards. He equates the tragedy of the commons to private property, when, in fact, first-year economics students are taught that the tragedy of the commons occurs when property rights are not defined. The tragedy of the commons refers to the lack of private property rights. Without property rights, no one owns land; therefore, no one has an incentive to take care of the land.

He also referred to the global warming debate in simplistic terms, stating that a list of 1,000 scientists “working under the United Nations” concur that global warming is caused by greenhouse gases. Unfortunately, the so-called scientist list to which he referred includes veterinarians and gynecologists. It is important to put this issue in perspective. Carbon dioxide is one of several greenhouse gases. The most prevalent greenhouse gas is water vapor, which makes up 98 percent of all greenhouse gases. Therefore, most greenhouse gases are natural, rather than man-made.

The Earth’s climate is extremely complex and the scientific community is still debating the significance of man’s activities. We should not have textbooks in our classrooms that are alarmist environmental activist workbooks not based on science. According to research scientist Dr. Sallie Baliunas, “Scientific facts gathered in the last 10 years do not support the notion of catastrophic human-made warming as a basis for drastic carbon dioxide emission cuts.”

Professor Leiter’s histrionics only serve to divert attention from the real issue. Texas voters deserve to know what the real differences are between those who want to improve textbooks for our children and those working to silence the voices of citizens and parents.

His reference to the United Nations is telling. It is the United Nations and those who promote Agenda 21 and world citizenship who are most vested in making sure U.S. students are not learning history, and are not learning what is great about this country.

There is a movement to focus on world citizenship and as one speaker to the National Council on Social Studies in New York said, “we must de-exceptionalize the United States. We are just another country and just another people.” It is that attitude which leaves our young people void of any sense of patriotism, appreciation of the free enterprise system, and the democratic values we embrace.

The battle over textbooks is a battle over our children’s education and our country’s future. Are we a sovereign nation with individual liberties and private property rights protected by the U.S. Constitution, or do we allow our sovereignty to slip away by promoting world citizenship and allowing the UN to dictate our children’s education and our country’s use of fossil fuel? Both are essential to our economy and our way of life.

It is those very values that differentiate individuals who want our children to learn history and those who want to put textbooks in our classrooms void of any reason for patriotism and pride in our country.

Lamenting that many American students are illiterate in history, President Bush recently announced an initiative to invigorate the teaching of American history and culture. In a Rose Garden ceremony, Bush said, “Here in America, we see a broad renewal of American patriotism…to properly understand and love our country, we must know our country’s history.”

This is an honest debate that deserves the light of public scrutiny.