Scott Thurman

The Revisionaries - Hot Docs

What would the state of American education be if Ned Flanders controlled what went into school textbooks? Folks in the Lone Star State came dangerously close to finding out during the 2009-2010 Texas State Board of Education hearings to determine the curriculum for millions of students. Made up of locally elected officials (some with academic training, some without) the SBOE was chaired by affable yet arrogant dentist and “young Earth creationist” Don McLeroy, and had the power to decide what information would go into textbooks. The position is one of great significance because Texas’ size makes it the country’s biggest purchaser of textbooks. The standards set by the board influence textbook publishing across the country. While it would seem that one’s religion would be irrelevant in such a setting, it took center stage when McLeroy and other members of the board fought to undermine the theory of evolution in the state’s science textbooks with the right wing side pushing for them to accentuate the “weaknesses” of such a theory. This fight is at the heart of The Revisionaries.



In 2010, the Republican-leaning Texas Board of Education approved a new set of standards which either 1) re-corrected the balance of historical education away from the liberal bias it tends to or 2) created a new tool for teaching young children that Creationism and a Conservative agenda are correct. The trick here is that a small group of people define what they want to see in textbooks, and the textbook writers have to abide or risk not selling millions of books. Since Texas buys so many, it often (alongside California) informs what the rest of the nation will be learning. At the heart of all of this, was a dentist. The new documentary The Revisionaries – which played Tribeca last week – focuses on Dr. Don McLeroy, the dentist and Creationist in question who is seeking re-election to the board. McLeroy, who recently went on The Colbert Report to discuss his views, is frank about his opinion that Liberals have taken over colleges and that evolution should be questioned while Creationism is giving equal footing in science classrooms. It’s an arrow that hits right into the heart of a cultural divide in America, and it’s one that ensures this doc has a deeply compelling subject. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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published: 01.27.2015
published: 01.27.2015
published: 01.26.2015
published: 01.26.2015

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