Well, Stacey Campfield has done it again; the man who proposed the infamous "Don't Say Gay bill" has once again voiced his opinion in an open-minded fashion.
Right, who are we kidding? I realize Tennessee is a red state, I have no dispute with that fact. But some of the actions taken by our state legislature are really troubling to me.
Their latest undertaking has to do with textbooks for Tennessee students and, more specifically, what is written in them.
Apparently conservative constituents have recently become concerned with some of the "troubling" material being taught to students in Tennessee, including a psychology textbook that included a passage about "rape fantasy."
In a day and age where one can turn on the TV and easily watch yet another graphic episode of Criminal Minds or CSI, I guess I can see why reading a passage about rape in a textbook could be so dangerously disturbing.
The state legislature is not only concerned with the content of the textbooks Tennessee has been using, but more importantly with the review process used to select those books.
Last week, state officials met with the Textbook Commission in Nashville to discuss how this review process might be changed, and how the legislature can have a heavier hand in regulating what students will be reading. Since the state legislature already does such a great job of funding public education in Tennessee, I can't wait to see what kind of ideas they generate.
I'm particularly excited by the prospect of Campfield – who doesn't think we should say the word "gay" – reviewing what goes in textbooks.
One item that Campfield raised concern with was a dispute that occurred in Knoxville, when a parent objected to a biology textbook that "more or less suggested that creationism is a myth."
How dare those biologists teach kids about the scientific history of the planet Earth.
State Rep. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, shares Campfields concerns. Last week he was quoted in Tennessee newspapers saying people have raised concerns over "accuracy and bias," and that he "wants to make sure the textbooks we're using reflect the culture of Tennesseans...It's whose culture and morals are represented."
My question to these representatives is this: whose morals do you want to reflect, and what exactly do you mean by Tennessee culture?
As far as I can tell, there are a lot of aspects of Tennessee culture that Bell and I have different perceptions on. I take issue with the fact that these men believe textbooks need to reflect "morals."
Textbooks need to reflect facts and actual history, not what the conservative population of Tennessee deems appropriate.
I would be very interested to see what ramifications this would have for topics like the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, the LGBTQ movement, etc. I have a hunch history texts might be significantly shorter.
I'm not saying the current review process for books is perfect; there is always room for improvement when it comes to education and we should always strive for improvement. But giving parents and the state legislature a huge portion of that review power is not the answer.
The duty of the public school system is to educate kids the best they can and prepare them for higher-level learning.
If narrow-minded people start censoring what kids in Tennessee read in textbooks, those children are not going to develop properly open minds that think globally.
Instead, they will be insulated from a true education simply because certain legislators feel uncomfortable confronting ideas different from their own.
Katie Dean is a junior in political science. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.