The Revisionaries on PBS

A somewhat shortened version of the movie, The Revisionaries, will be shown on PBS Monday night at 10 Eastern Time. The Revisionaries is a documentary about attempts by the Texas State Board of Education to inject creationism into the school standards.

Here is what PBS says about the program:

Witness an ongoing culture war raging in Texas – a tempest in a textbook. The state’s Board of Education has been engaged in a pitched, years-long battle over what belongs (and doesn’t) in public school textbooks. Legislators, educators, parents and students debate the facts and the theories – including what constitutes a fact versus a theory. The chair of the Board of Education fights tirelessly to include intelligent design in science books, while a board member argues to exclude mention of the slave trade and the Enlightenment in history books. The result is a chaotic scene, with the next generation’s education held hostage.

Most readers of PT probably know of the attempts to inject creationism (teach the “controversy”) into the curriculum, but New York Times reviewer was startled by

the casual way the board injected opinion into social studies textbooks, requiring, among many other additions, references to Ronald Reagan’s leadership in “restoring national confidence” and replacing hip-hop with country in a citation of pop music

not to mention inserting Hussein between Barack and Obama. I saw the full 84-min movie last night; the PBS version has been whittled down to 52 min and, I gathered from a talkback with the producer, not entirely to his liking.

I was astonished at what twits the SBOE members were. The star of the movie, in some sense, was Don McLeroy, the former chair of the SBOE. He came across as a completely honest, pleasant, ignorant ninny who evidently believes everything he thinks and is more than willing to let you know. The scene where he tries to convince Sunday-school students that there was plenty of room for dinosaurs and other creatures on the Ark would have been hilarious, had it not been so earnest. McLeroy could be an excellent, even inspiring teacher, if only he were not so badly misinformed.

Those are only some of the impressions I got from a movie that some will doubtless criticize for being too even-handed. See it for yourself, either on PBS or, preferably, the full-length version.