Controversy is brewing around a school district in Denton, Texas, that is said to be using a United States history book that seems to summarize the Second Amendment inaccurately. However, the Denton Independent School District maintains it only uses the book as “supplemental” material and is “disseminating the correct information on the Second Amendment” from other texts.
But there are several other schools that appear to be using the book, too.
“The people have the right to keep and bear arms in a state militia,” the definition in the book, “United States History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination,” which acts as a study guide for the Advanced Placement U.S. history test, reads.
The amendment as ratified by the U.S. reads [emphasis added]: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.“
Based on the book’s interpretation, citizens only retain the right to bear arms in a “state militia,” a case where citizens are called upon during emergencies to protect the state. Not surprisingly, many would take issue with that interpretation.
It could certainly be an accidental misinterpretation by the textbook’s author, but people are clearly unhappy with the language and there is already an effort underway to make school officials at Guyer High School aware of the discrepancy. A Texas blogger has also pointed out that the Denton ISD Board of Trustees meets on Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. and is encouraging parents to show up and demand answers.
It should be noted that all of the amendments found in the Constitution are summarized in the referenced text. However, the other amendments don’t appear to have raised eyebrows.
“The incorrect description of ‘the right to keep and bear arms in a state militia’ above makes one’s right dependent upon’s one’s membership in a state militia,” he said. “The founders believed, to quote William Blackstone, that the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right ‘auxiliary to the natural right of resistance and self-preservation.'”
TheBlaze reached out to the Denton Independent School District regarding the textbook and received the following statement from Director of Communications and Community Relations Sharon Cox:
The main history book that is utilized in the Advanced Placement U.S. History class for juniors in Denton ISD is titled: American Pageant. This is a history book that has had a strong reputation for historical facts for many years. The American Pageant, the official textbook, gives the exact Bill of Rights.
The book in question, U.S. History: Preparing for Advanced Placement Exams, is a supplement instructional aid and not the official textbook for any history classes. In this supplement, it states that the following is a “summary statement.” The teachers and staff are aware of this “summary statement” and are teaching the amendments from the classroom textbook, American Pageant. The only approved textbook for these classes is American Pageant. All other materials are “supplemental.”
Please be assured that Denton ISD history teachers are disseminating the correct information on the Second Amendment.
Messages left with the publisher of the textbook have not been returned.
Upon further review of the book, authored by Dr. John Newman and Dr. John Schmalbach, TheBlaze also discovered another controversial passage on the American Revolution. The text asks the question: “THE REVOLUTION—RADICAL OR CONSERVATIVE?”
The authors call those who fought in the Revolutionary War “revolutionary mobs” and “American mobs.”
“In comparing the three revolutions, a few historians have concentrated on the actions of revolutionary mobs, such as the American Sons of Liberty. Again there are two divergent interpretations: (1) the mobs in all three countries engaged in the same radical activities, and (2) the American mobs had a much easier time of it than the French and Russian mobs, who encountered ruthless repression by military authorities,” the text reads.
The book also compares American Revolution fighters to the “guerrilla bands that fought in such countries as Cuba in the 1950s and Vietnam in the 1960s.”
Dr. Corbin again took issue with the description of the Americans who fought for independence in the Revolutionary War. He said there was “very little that was radical about the Revolutionary War if the author is employing post-modern parlance for the term.”
“The most powerful calls for revolution were forwarded upon a natural rights basis. Given that many a regime before and since had been instituted and maintained through the employment of force, one could only call the revolution radical if by radical one is paying deference to the Founders’ attempt to establish the regime upon ‘reflection and choice,'” he said, referencing the Federalist papers.
Corbin also noted that “all different types of imperfect people participated in the Revolutionary War,” but argued that “the power of ideas that drove the American revolution is what makes the American political revolution very different than its Russian and French counterparts.”
“Note that the two latter regimes had to continually employ force to keep their people (or subjects if you will) in check, both in war and in peace (often the peace of the silenced or the dead) that followed,” Corbin told TheBlaze. “In sum, whoever wrote this text is attempting to besmirch the American regime by making it the moral equivalent of all revolutionary regimes, which it certainly was not.”
Further, discussing the Boston Tea Party, the books states the British Parliament passed the Tea Act in 1773 in an effort to “help the British East India Company out of its financial problems.”
When the company’s tea shipment came to the Boston harbor, “a group of Bostonians disguised themselves as Native Americans, boarded the British ships, and dumped 342 chests of tea into the harbor.”
“While many applauded the Boston Tea Party as a justifiable defense of liberty, others thought the destruction of private property was far too radical,” the book reflects.
TheBlaze is still researching the book and trying to determine how widespread its use is in U.S. schools.
Initial research shows the textbook is currently being used at North Thurston High School in Lacey, Wash., and in Forsyth (Ga.) County Schools. The book was also used in the Summer of 2013 by the Social Studies Department at the DeKalb School of the Arts in Stone Mountain, Ga. Further, an online copy of the book is currently posted on the Conejo Valley Unified School District in California. You can read the pdf version of the book here.
It could be that many other schools across the country use the text book as well. TheBlaze is currently awaiting comment from several of the schools and districts mentioned above.
Another key question yet to be answered is: If the textbook is indeed a study guide for the “advanced placement exam,” does the exam also reflect the book’s content?
This story has been updated.