As Texas goes, says Collins, so goes the nation, and there are some revelatory and I must admit pretty horrifying details about how the state of Texas has led the way in banking laws, education (especially sex education, or embargo of), textbooks, global warming, immigration and voters’ rights, written with that lighthearted acerbity we enjoy so much in her NYT opinion column. In the prologue she writes
Texas banking laws set the stage for the savings and loan crisis in the 1980s. The 2008 economic meltdown was the product of a financial deregulation that was the work of/Texas senator Phil Gramm. Our energy policy is the way it is in large part because Texas politicians and Texas special interests like it that way…Schools from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine, have been remade, reorganized, and sometimes totally upended under a federal law based on Texas education reform. For several generations, our kids have been reading textbooks written with an eye to Texas sensibilities. Texas presidents have the led the country into every land war the United States has been involved in since Vietnam.
This wasn’t really a book, it was a 200-page column with a bunch of appendices supporting her points. I wonder if she wasn’t perhaps rushing to print before her premise became dated, because I found at least two gaping holes in her logic.
1. She doesn’t talk near enough about the Hispanic population of Texas, which in number is rapidly overtaking the Anglo population of Texas. Anglo Texans are largely Republican. Hispanic Texans are largely Democrat. Texas is on the brink of going blue in a big way. I wish she’d spent more time with guys like San Antonio mayor Julian Castro. There is the future of Texas.
2. She also makes no reference to e-books, which is on its own cusp, that of revolutionizing textbooks. I speak from personal experience here: Changing the text of an ebook is so easy compared to changing the text of a print book. So what if Texas wants to axe the New Deal or evolution or global warming or separation of church and state out of its textbooks? Let ’em. In ebooks, the rest of the states can add all those subjects right back in with relatively few labor costs. And there is the future of textbooks.
This is a book worth reading, but it might have been more accurate to have called it “As Texas Went.”
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