Only 27% Of Texans Trust Politicians’ Judgement of School Books

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From Book Riot:

Following Texas lawmaker Matt Krause’s circulation of a list of 850 books he would like to see removed from schools, the Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler conducted a February 2022 survey of 1,188 registered voters (33% Democrat, 41% Republican, 26% neither) about various topics of Texas politics, including book bans.

In response to the question “How much do you trust the judgement of elected state leaders in reviewing what books are controversial and should be removed from K-12 schools?”, 27% replied that they either had a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust. 27% said they had “not too much,” 38% had “no confidence,” and 8% said they didn’t have enough information.

In contrast, 45% had either a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in librarians and school officials in this same review process. 24% said “not too much,” 23% said “no confidence,” and 7% said they didn’t know enough to answer.

Link to the rest at Book Riot

For visitors from outside the United States, there is more than a little turmoil in some US schools about new curricula that teach American history in ways substantially different than has been customary in the past. The primary motivation for the changes in curriculum materials in many cases is to teach about slavery in a different way than it has been taught before.

Traditionally, American history traditionally acknowledged that the principal cause of the American Civil War (1861-1865) was the attempt by the elected national representatives of states that prohibited slavery (Maine, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, California, Nevada, and Oregon, collectively, the “Union”) to force the states that permitted slavery (Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, collectively, the “Confederacy”) to abolish this practice.

In addition to the Northern States and the Southern States, there were also Border States (Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri). The Border states were located between the Northern and the Southern States and included some slaveholders, but also many residents who opposed slavery. None of the border states supported President Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 election, but none seceded from the Union as did the Confederate States.

Many of the battles between the North and the South were fought in the Border States, particularly early in the war. In some of the border states that did not have North/South battles between the armies of the two combatants, there were extensive and destructive armed clashes between those who supported one side or the other. At times, these clashes were effectively a guerilla war that made little distinction between combatants and non-combatants.

The Northern states had a combined population of 22 million people. The Southern states had a combined population of about 9 million. The Northern states also included most of the industry in the country at the time while the Southern states were generally agrarian.

The disparity of wealth between the North and South was substantial. Farming which utilized slaves generated a great deal of wealth for the relatively small percentage who were slave-owners, but whites and former slaves who had been freed by their owners. While the Northern states had plenty of farmers, they were well along a path to employing a great many people in industrial companies.

The average per capita income in the North was about double the average per capita income in the South.

In short, if a non-involved individual from another country clearly understood the relative strengths of the Union and Confederacy prior to the war, there would have been little doubt about the military outcome.

As PG has mentioned before, the disproportionate cost in wealth and both military and civilian casualties resulted in the impoverishment of the Southern states and a significant share of their residents. This impoverishment continued for over one hundred years after the war and still remains in significant parts of the Southern and Border states.

Out of the 15 poorest states (ranked by the percentage of the population living in poverty) in 1999, 13 were former members of the Confederacy. Out of the 15 wealthiest states, 14 were former members of the Union and one, Maryland, was a deeply-divided border state which did not secede from the Union but did permit slavery.

While the definition of “racism” has become much more fluid during the past several years, PG suggests that the Civil War, which resulted in far, far more deaths and non-death causalities than the US suffered during the great wars of the Twentieth Century, is, ultimately, a definitive statement that the roots of the nation are built upon the idea than no persons, by virtue of their race, should be discriminated against or oppressed.

21 thoughts on “Only 27% Of Texans Trust Politicians’ Judgement of School Books”

  1. One of the real ironies of the “Border States” issue is that West Virginia formed by seceding from Virginia in 1861. Most public speeches were about “loyalty to the Union,” but there was one big difference between the northwestern counties of Virginia that became West Virginia and the neighboring Border States (Kentucky and Maryland) was that between the differing terrain and land-ownership accidents, the “plantation owners” were mostly absentee landlords concentrated around Richmond and what we now call NoVa (Fairfax, Arlington, and Loudoun Counties). There’s a more-than-decent argument that this particular “secession” was caused by inept boundary drawing in the 1780s, combined with power being exerted from afar.

    It’s sort of like the contemporary difference between western and eastern Washington/Oregon — yes, there’s a small separatist movement out here, based on similarly inept boundary drawing. And the comparison to both post-Colonial Africa and southern and southwestern Asia, not to mention Yugoslavia, just shows that humans don’t learn all that quickly…

  2. Intra-state divisons and secessionist movements are all over.
    Not always about geography though mostbstates have big political divides that are geographic focused, though not necessarilly caused by it. Mostly, though, the divides are sociocultural and demographic in nature. Usually it’s one big city or two monopolizing state government. The whole “we got 51% so the rest don’t matter” modern approach to governing.

    The list of divided states is extensive:
    Michigan: the Upper peninsula vs Detroit and points south.
    Ohio: Cleveland and Columbus vs Cincinatti and the rest of the state.
    Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh and Philadelphia vs the rest.
    Illinois: Chicago vs the rest
    New York: NYC vs the rest.
    (Notice the pattern?) 😉

    The Texas Panhandle sees itself more aligned with southwest Oklahoma and southeast Colorado and the latter really want to be free of the Denver California expatriates.
    Culturally, eastern Texas is more “Dixie” than “wild west” and Dallas and Houston don’t particularly like each other.

    California is, of course, a mess with various secessionist movements pressing for a breakdown into 3, 4, and even 5 different states and all have good reason since the four major metro areas are very different from each other and the eastern part of the state and none feel properly represented by the LA-SF axis. (Best represented by the not-so-high speed rail boondoggle.)
    Florida manages its regions better than most yet it too would make everybody happy if they could split out Miami and Orlando as city-states. 😀

    It is probably quicker to list the states that can claim a uniform statewide culture: Idaho, Iowa, and Montana and even there Montana is getting iffy.

    It shouldn’t be surprising, given the size and variety of economies, histories, and demographics of the 50 states. Once the national myth of the melting pot was exploded and identity politics took over the old intrastate divisions came roaring back. And on top of it all, the trend to federalize everything and straitjacket a hundred regional cultures into an illusory “consensus culture” is providing added heat to the ferment of discontent.

    All it takes is one state to allow a split for the whole thing to cascade out of control.

    Thing is, state splits and border shifts (Greater Idaho, for example) won’t solve anything for long. Not without changing the 51% governance model. Because in another generation the griping will just start all over again. 😀

    • Here’s a more comprehensive list of the looonnng history of state parstoodtitions and border relocations:

      Of interest is that since the state governent as to agree to the partition which would result in a loss of tax receipts none has stood a chance of approval. A common anti-partition plaint is that the rebel counties “receive more funding than they pay” neglecting to point out that, like the book debates in the OP aren’t a simple matter of math but rather of the *way* money is apportioned and the books are used.

      BTW, 27% sounds high.
      Last national Pew poll I saw gave government at all levels a 20-22% vote of confidence. (2% all the time and 20% some of the time.)
      Must be a library thing; thet haven’t yet burned all their store of goodwill. 😀

    • The governance fix is to have state Senates mimic the US Senate (so they represent areas, such as counties, not equal number of voters), not just be smaller House of Representatives. This would take a change in US Supreme Court rulings (and would be fought by those 51%).

      • …and it would reify plantation-era divisions of property.

        In short, it’s not a solution. It’s an alternative to the current setup, one that makes sense if you think government must be not just represented in, but dominated by, natural-resource-extraction interests — but not a “solution.” It at best moves the goalposts (to somewhere near the concession stands, something that anyone who was stuck as a carpetbaggin’ Yankee living off-base in OKC in the 1980s knows firsthand… and my state-of-growing-up wasn’t even in the US in the antebellum era so I’m not really a Yankee!).

        Or one could just research “rotten borough” and ponder how it applies to, say, Kansas.

        My “solution” is to eliminate “geography” as much as possible, which necessarily has its own problems; but I see no reason that someone who lives in an inherited-from-middle-class-parents home in Cherry Hill, NJ and spends most of his/her/their waking life in downtown Philly (working for the feds, no less — the experience of a retired military colleague) should be prevented from having a real voice in both sets of governments, whether local or state. (I did my undergraduate years in St. Louis, so that’s another, even-more-racially-charged variation; and the less said about the years in DC…)

        • An advocate for the Lord of the Nether Realms might suggest that your solution might draw a wee bit of resistance from folks objecting to their fate being impacted by schemes supported by people beyond the impact of such schemes.

          Didn’t you just suggest a similar scenario was part of the forces driving the creation of West Virginia 😉

          (Shall we queue up Emerson’s most quoted statement?) 😀

          A minor bit of anecdata from a deeply divided midwestern city:

          As such cities are wont to find themselves, City Council was facing a budget shortfall and trying to choose between raising the sales tax and raising the income tax. The council head (and local “Boss Tweed”) publicly threw the machine behind the latter, publicly proclaiming for the evening news that the sales tax boost would impact all city residents whereas the income tax boost would only impact suburbanites commuting to work. (Because in his eyes his consituency were all “wards of the state”.)

          The comment did not go well come the next election. And several of tbe largest businesses headquartered in downtown for decades chose to move outside the reach of the machine. Everybody knew the IdiotPolitician™’s leanings but even his wards found his candor a bit much. Truth *from* power is a no-no.

          The idea of letting expatriates vote on local issues is regularly floated in PR politics (by pro statehood advocates looking to have Newyoricans have a say in the affairs of a place they don’t have to endure) and gets quickly shot down every time for obvious reasons.

          My own take on the inevitable regional conflicts in every state can be summed up in three words: democracy doesn’t scale.

          Every single political system will sooner or later irritate (or worse) a significant portion of the people forced to endure it. Even the Greece of Pericles faced its divisions. The best that can be hope for it a system tbat minimizes strife, which is why authoritarianism is so tempting to rulers. (C.F, Canada 2022)

          • Federalism helps. That way, New York state can order its internal affairs its own way when there’s a President like Trump, and Texas can do the same when there’s a President like Biden.

          • It all depends on what you mean by “local”… and note that I put scare quotes around “solution.” Then, too, there’s the question of whether it was just and appropriate for lib’ral Yankees from some northern university town demanding desegregation of schools in far away states of the former Confederacy (and, often, much closer to home), especially in the face of the good people of Yoknapatawpha County objecting to their fate and local governance and kulcha being impacted. In that sense, my neighborhood’s boundaries are a bit broader than eighteenth-century conceptions of what is local enough for “local politics” and “local concerns.” (There weren’t a whole lot of commuters in Manhattan in 1787.)

            Consider another example: Washington is proposing a tax on fossil fuels that use port or other transshipment facilities in the state. Oregon and Idaho are up in arms about it; are they “people beyond the impact of such schemes”?

            • Sorry but you you’re mixing in nineteenth century situations with the 21st century. Some might argue that the dead past shouldn’t give carte banche to the present. Bringing in great grandpappy’s time might not be helpful to today’s issues. Times change, culture changes. Which is exactly why the secessionists movements arise.

              As for the port taxes, the protests are probably valid, as it impacts interstate commerce. Which is constitutionally assigned to the feds, unlike matters like education which is properly a local concern. If not the Commerce dept then the courts or The Congress.

              There are plenty of similar examples of states acting on “local” matters (taxing out of state wine is a classic case, IIRC) that got properly shot down by the Feds.

              Separation of powers isn’t just among the branches of federal government (horizontally, as it were) but also (vertically) about dealing with issues at the proper level of governance (federal, state, county, community) which is the purpose of the tenth amendment. The existence of which should (theoretically) serve not only to constrain imperial federalism but also local overreach. (Reflected in the ongoing battles over California regulations spilling over onto bystanders. Chicken eggs being the latest front in the endless list.)


              Reverting to the OP, the debates over the proper deployment of educational materials are (generally) a matter to be settled locally in response to local mores unless there is an actual conflict with larger concerns. Too often there is a tendency to nuke gnats out of expediency to avoid taking note of uncomfortable side effects.

              Which behavior ends up eroding the trust in the system because that is not the way it should operate. Governance of the people is supposed to be *for* the people, not ideologues or activists. Hence the headline.

              Zero tolerance sledgehammers help nobody in the end.

              • Sorry but you you’re mixing in nineteenth century situations with the 21st century. Some might argue that the dead past shouldn’t give carte banche to the present. Bringing in great grandpappy’s time might not be helpful to today’s issues. Times change, culture changes. Which is exactly why the secessionists movements arise.

                Which, really, was my point (and is why “originalism” marks, at most, a starting point for interpretation of anything — law, literature, whatever). “Where one’s head ordinarily rests at night” is the g’g’g’grandpappy definition of “who is a member of this community affected by representative government.” In a broader sense, it’s reliance on the concept that the only “real” property — the only property that does and should matter in politics — is land. Remember, in 1787 there was still a viable argument under the common law that copyright was a “natural” right, not a statutory one, and this goes back centuries in the development of the concept of “property”… combined with the eighteenth-century conception that those entitled to vote owned property. That is precisely why I intentionally mixed older and newer examples here: To show that the stated reasoning of those with (usually) hidden agendas has not adapted.

                I thoroughly agree that zero-tolerance sledgehammers help nobody in the end. Zero tolerance in defining an “infraction” does not require zero discretion/zero sensitivity to context in responding to it… no matter how often such discretion has been abused in the past, and/or mischaracterized in the past, and/or subject to 20/200 hindsight by outside observers who weren’t in the moment. I was a CO for the better part of a decade; every one of my colleagues who professed allegiance to rigid disciplinary consequences for well-defined transgressions either saw the error of such ways within a few months or lost the confidence of those under their command. And if it doesn’t work in the rigid hierarchy with common purpose of the military, what makes you think it will work in, umm, less-defined circumstances?

  3. Side note: the GOP platform in 1860 said nothing about meddling with slavery where it already was; rather, it stood against slavery going where it was not already present–that is, no expansion of slavery into the territories, a position which SCOTUS, in Dred Scott v. Sanford, had recently declared unconstitutional. And, furthermore, the initial secessions happened before Lincoln was even inaugurated.

    Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennessee could at least sort of claim to be standing on principle (since they only seceded after Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to bring the seceded states back in by force), but the others mostly just seceded out of pique that the rest of the country wasn’t as wildly enthusiastic about their “peculiar institution” as they were.

  4. One tragic aspect of the Civil War illustrates the fact that personal choices, even made for seemingly understandable reasons by normally decent people, can have catastrophic results. Robert E. Lee was such a brilliant general that he was offered the leadership of the armies on both sides, possibly the only time in history that’s happened. Although not pro-slavery personally, he felt loyalty to his home state of Virginia and, by choosing the Confederacy, most likely prolonged the war. Instead of ending in months, as would have been likely given the overwhelming strength of the North (which lacked a comparably gifted general until Grant), it lasted for years, at a horrendous cost in lives and material to both sides.

  5. “How much do you trust the judgement of elected state leaders in reviewing what books are controversial and should be removed from K-12 schools?”, 27% replied that they either had a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust. 27% said they had “not too much,” 38% had “no confidence,” and 8% said they didn’t have enough information.

    Show of hands…

    Who trusts elected national leaders more then they trust elected state leaders?
    Who trusts bureaucrats more than they trust elected state leaders?
    Who trusts university professors more than they trust elected state leaders?

    • I think I trust the dictator more. He doesnt have to spend 99% of his time lying to my face while passing laws to rob me blind via taxes. And the college professor never has skin in the game in their views. It’s always easy to tell others what they should do. It’s like being in the media. How many mock NFL drafts do you see that are never right. Yet the guys are back at it the next year like they are true experts with vast knowledge of how the system works.

        • There is a wonderful video on YouTube of Trump lecturing the NATO allies on what they are doing by reducing defense spending, becoming dependent on Russian gas, and paying the Russians zillions of dollars. Then he says what will happen because of their folly.

          We can now watch that happening on TV. While Churchill’s speech to parliament after Munich was elegant, and Trump’s was bare bones and brutal, they both conveyed a similar message.

          • Can’feel too smug about the Germans when we have been doing the same thing for decades and ignoring all the signals from the CCP. They are nothing but candid about their desires.

            Khrushchev was quite prescient about the times to come:


            Most particularly:

            “Communism will dance on the grave of the capitalist and we will sell you the rope you use to hang yourself.”

            Got that one right: we did give the chinese the money that pays for their big navy and horde of missiles. Not too different from the Germans shutting down tbeir nukes to instead pay Russia for natural gas.

            And then there’s Clinton in ’94 getting Ukraine to give up tbeir 5000 nuclear missiles in return for russian guarantees of territorial integrity.

            Worked out well, didn’t it?
            (About as well as Gaddafi shutting down his nuclear program.)

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