Texas social studies standards: Crisis is now

How bad is it?  Washington Monthly features a solid, long story on what is going on in Austin this week and next in Texas social studies standards.  I wish that outstanding publication had a much greater circulation.

Even in Minnesota, P. Z. Myers is concerned:  “Be afraid” he warns his readers.  In comments there, a guy named BlackWolf puts it bluntly:

Once, a guy in a schoolbook storage room was the killer.

Now, the books themselves are becoming dangerous.

You can help.  You can testify next week.  You can send comments.  The Texas Freedom Network can help you be heard.

Please let the State Board of Education know that Texas, and the nation, needs good social studies standards.  As we noted last month, it’s time to stand up for education and social studies:

Make Your Voice Heard at January Public Hearing

The process of revising social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools is moving into a critical stage. And a public hearing the board has scheduled for January may be the only opportunity for you to speak out against the far right’s efforts to corrupt standards for history, government and other social studies classes.

The final drafts of the proposed standards prepared by writing teams made up of teachers, academics and other community members are reflective of mainstream academic scholarship in the various subject areas. It is clear that members of these writing teams largely resisted intense political pressure from far right, rejecting attempts to remove key civil rights figures and make other politically motivated revisions. (See the Background section at the bottom of this e-mail for a more detailed account of the politicization of this curriculum process.)

But as with science and language arts, far-right SBOE members are already plotting to undo the work of the writing teams of social studies.

Take Action

The State Board of Education so far has scheduled only one public hearing on the proposed standards. That hearing is likely to occur either on January 13 or January 14 in Austin.

If you are interested in speaking at the hearing, please click here. TFN will help you register to speak before the board and be an effective voice against efforts to politicize our children’s classrooms.

This may be the only opportunity the board provides for Texans to speak out on the proposed standards. If we are to prevent far-right SBOE members from turning social studies classrooms into tools for promoting political agendas, then it’s critical that the board hears from people like you! Click here to sign up for more information on how to testify in January.


Background on Social Studies Review Process to Date

Earlier this year, TFN exposed and derailed several attempts by the far right to hijack the social studies curriculum revision process. Members of the state board – or their appointees to review panels and writing teams – tried at various times to:

  • Remove civil rights champions like César Chávez and Thurgood Marshall from the standards, calling them poor examples of citizenship
  • Turn Joseph McCarthy – who discredited himself and dishonored Congress with his infamous Red-baiting smear campaign in the 1950s – into an American hero
  • Rewrite history and portray America’s Founders as intending to establish a Christian nation with laws based on a fundamentalist reading of the Bible

Members of the writing teams largely rejected these fringe ideas in the final drafts of the standards they submitted to the board. Chávez and Marshall remain in the curriculum. The American history standards do not whitewash the damaging history of McCarthyism. And under the proposed standards students would still learn that the Founders created a nation in which all people are free to worship – or not – as they choose without coercion or interference by government.

We must ensure that the board adopts curriculum standards that reflect mainstream academic scholarship in social studies. This is vitally important because the results of this decision will be reflected in the next generation of social studies textbooks around the country.

Click here to let TFN know you are willing to testify at the state board.

2 Responses to Texas social studies standards: Crisis is now

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Dear Ms. Yates,

    1. You obviously have no clue what my faith is. Your assumptions are unwarranted, and wrong.

    2. No one questions that our founders were, mostly, people of faith. Most of the rewrites ascribe a different faith to the founders than they had, however. Rather like your unwarranted assumption about my faith, or my assuming that since you like thunder (and probably a lot of Fenderbass), you follow the Norse gods or are particularly fond of Thor. I’ll bet Thursday is your favorite day of the week, too, yes? We can always tell (and tell wrongly, when we’re making bad assumptions).

    3. If you favor religious freedom, why do you wish to impose a different religion on the founders, or insist others follow your faith, whatever it is?

    4. Thomas Jefferson made it especially clear that our republic protects freedom from religion, as a necessary by-product of protecting all other religious freedom. Why do you try to hide the words of the founders? Have you even read what the founders wrote?

    5. You must be aware that Jefferson was all for teaching morality to children. In fact, he urged the Bible be removed from schools, so that kids could learn to read faster — and with the time saved, get instruction in morality, instead of the Bible. You could look it up (Notes on the State of Virginia, in Query XIV, as I recall (see page 204)).

    Instead, therefore, of putting the Bible and Testament into the hands of the children at an age when their judgments are not sufficiently matured for religious inquiries, their memories may here be stored with the most useful facts from Grecian, Roman, European. and American history. The first elements of morality too may be instilled into their minds; such as, when further developed as their judgments advance in strength, may teach them how to work out their own greatest happiness, by showing them that it does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed them, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.

    6. Rules are not all based on the Bible, but a lot of ignorance is. Morality existed long before the Bible did. Everyone knows that, if they know history, if they know the history of the Bible.

    [Dear Readers: Do you now see the dangers of gutting real history and social studies standards?]

    Thanks for dropping by, Ms. Yates, but please keep your hands off our social studies standards. Our Texas kids are smart, and they deserve high standards, not dumbed-down, erroneous political claims.


  2. Faye Yates says:

    I beg your pardon. It is your organization that supports the re-writing of America’s true history. The Godless are not comfortable with the fact that our founders were people of faith, courage and determination to establish a country that would allow religious freedom. They recognized that they needed God’s help to survive and raise up a country that would allow them the choice to serve God or not. It was called religious freedom NOT, freedom from religion, which is your stand and evidence of your protest of our Godly founders. Without morality there is tragedy,immorality of all kinds of self destruction and caose. Rules are all based on Biblical truths that we hope are taught in our public educational system.


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