I've read much about the extensive influence that conservatives in Texas have over our national educational system through the editorial sword they wield when creating textbooks; many of which are used nationally in our high schools. Today their new (lowered) standards were adopted by the Board of Education which means that textbooks will now water down things like the significance of the Civil Rights Movement, the meaning of slavery, the importance of the United Nations. The narrow viewpoint of conservatives will become the standard for high school students in Texas and the many of the states that use their text books. I finally bumped up against the insidious nature of the way Texas conservatives shape the cultural discourse for our youth. I was asked to give permission for use of one of my essays, "The Swimming Lesson," as part of a test being given in English 101. That only stipulation was that they could delete one phrase where I refer to women being 'sexual prey' in our culture.The essay is about being taught by my grandmother to swim and in that lesson I learn to be a self-sufficient woman of color. Maybe excising the phrase was a bizarre attempt to sanitize the essay so being self-sufficient wasn't such a big deal? Or maybe Texas girls should not be alerted to what awaits them in the real world. Or maybe just the word 'sex' sets of alarm bells in Texas spell check.It's hard for a writer to say 'no' when asked to share her work, even for a test. And turning down cash is not that easy either. But the chill that fell over me when I saw their request left me furious. My 'no' was firm and as resounding as email technology will allow.BEWARE! Our history is bent re-written in soft focus; sanitized out of its value. Slavery will look like summer camp, women getting the vote won't be such a crucial point, Native Americans were inferior anyway, and those dead Kent State students...oh well....and anyone who doesn't agree is un-American. Until Howard Zinn (A People's History) came along US history was already lop-sided, not just written by the victor but fictionalized. Gradually with insistence by progressive activists information about reality has seeped into those standard texts. Now, at least for the next ten years, the conservatives of Texas have our history in their hands and have molded it to suit their political desires---which start with making me totally invisible.