Pressure on Texas Board of Education to fix damage to social studies standards

Probably not enough pressure to get the board to act, but the Dallas Morning News turned a cannon on the Texas State Board of Education this morning, asking that they fix the damage done to social studies last year.

The paper’s editorial board keyed off of the Fordham Institute’s grading of state standards — Texas failed, with at D.

Here’s the editorial in its entirety — there’s more at the Dallas Morning News website and I encourage you to go read it there:

Editorial: Report offers new reason to rewrite standards

Just in case you think it’s only us warning about Texas’ new social studies standards, check out the awful grade that the respected Thomas B. Fordham Institute gave those benchmarks in a report released Wednesday.

A big, fat “D” is what Texas got for the history, economics, geography and cultural standards the State Board of Education approved last year for Texas’ elementary and secondary school students.

Some of that awful mark was for the way the standards are organized. Fordham researchers likened their confusing structure to a jigsaw puzzle. But much of the national organization’s critique was about how politicized the State Board of Education has made those standards.

We were particularly struck by Fordham’s conclusion that the hard-right faction on the board, which dominated the writing of the standards, made the same mistake left-wing academics have made in approaching such subjects as history and economics. The Fordham study puts it this way:

“While such social studies doctrine is usually associated with the relativist and diversity-obsessed educational left, the hard right-dominated Texas Board of Education made no effort to replace traditional social studies dogma with substantive historical content. Instead, it seems to have grafted on its own conservative talking points.”

Oh, it gets worse. Back to the report: “The strange fusion of conventional left-wing education theory and right-wing politics undermines content from the start.”

For the record, Fordham is not a left-wing outpost of American thought. Its leader is Chester Finn, a former Reagan administration official and one of education’s most recognized voices. At the least, his organization’s critique is not a predictable one.

The institute echoes the complaint this newspaper has had since the 15-member Texas board rewrote the state’s social studies standards. Its hard-right faction at the time insisted on inserting its slant on those important subjects, such as suggesting Joe McCarthy wasn’t so bad, that international treaties are a problem and that the separation of church and state is misguided.

The warped view is why the revised board must go back and rewrite the standards this spring. And that should be possible.

Voters were so frustrated with the board’s work last year that they elected more moderate Republican members. Moderates now have enough of the upper hand to fix these standards before schools start planning for next year and before publishers start drafting new history and social studies textbooks.

Some on the new board may believe that rewriting the social studies standards will be too difficult. But surely Texas students deserve better than a “D” when it comes to what the state wants them to learn in some of the most critical subjects.


Texas fails among its peers

How big states fared on the Fordham Foundation report on social studies standards nationwide:

California: A-

New York: A-

Florida: C

Texas: D

National average: D

12 Responses to Pressure on Texas Board of Education to fix damage to social studies standards

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Interesting. If I read that forum correctly, they’re saying Ron Paul claims the U.S. Department of Education sets curriculum in states, and that’s why Ron Paul wants to get rid of ED.

    Of course, ED does NOT set curriculum for any state. Is Paul that far out of it? Is he really saying that?


  2. Have nothing useful to say, RP for President?

    Don’t worry…neither does Ron Paul.


  3. Nick K says:

    Johnathan writes: Further, apparently it is not acceptable for students to be taught the benefits of our free enterprise system.

    You willing to have the drawbacks to the system taught as well? Because yeah the system is good…but the system isn’t perfect. Both what works and what doesn’t work should be taught don’t you think?

    And as for slavery…you can tell us where it mentions slavery right? Like it actually mentions slaves, yes?

    And as Ed asks…why are you and the others ashamed of capitalism? That as far as economic systems go is what the founding fathers set up..capitalism. If they wanted “free market” or rather…your sides interpretation of that term…they wouldn’t have given the government the right to regulate.

    So the question really is, Johnathan, what problem do you have with what the Founding Fathers did?


  4. Ed Darrell says:

    Taking out the word “slavery” and substituting “The Triangle Trade” is pretty much pulling slavery out of the standards, don’t you think? We have to fight to keep Juneteenth in the Texas curriculum.

    I don’t think the Fordham Report is biased against Texas at all. It’s just that the religious fundamentalists on the Texas State Board of Education are so far to the right of Ronald Reagan, for example, that Ronald Reagan’s point man on education standards finds them lacking in academic accuracy and rigor.

    Reagan would be appalled, I think.

    In my opinion, the gutting of “capitalism” from the standards, to be replaced by a weak defense of the American system under “free enterprise,” does indeed weaken the standards. The Texas State Board of Education scrapped the tough, free-market celebrating curriculum written by a dozen of our best economists and economics educators, substituting a watered-down, “hallelujah” shouting shell of an economics curriculum. It compares badly with California’s and New York’s curricula — it is not as good as Utah’s right-wing curriculum, in my view.

    Why is the Texas State Board of Education ashamed of “capitalism?” We can only guess — but it’s clearly something that they didn’t get from America’s capitalist founders like George Washington or James Madison or Ben Franklin, nor especially from Alexander Hamilton.

    So, the Texas curriculum misdescribes America’s economics, putting Texas students who take regular economics at a severe disadvantage to all others who study capitalism by its proper name. Nuts.

    The curriculum does not condemn entitlements? Compared to a good economics program, it does. Are you suggesting the curriculum celebrates Social Security?

    All is jaundiced to the jaundiced eye, I suppose. Have you ever studied economics, Mr. Saenz? Have you ever taught economics? Why are you ashamed to be a capitalist?


  5. jonathansaenz says:

    The Fordham report is biased and completely inaccurate. It claims the Texas standards are missing slavery and that the standards explicitly urge students to condemn federal entitlement programs. Further, apparently it is not acceptable for students to be taught the benefits of our free enterprise system. So many of the reports’ statement are so baseless and downright untrue that it is laughable.

    For a comparison of the reports statements vs what the Texas standards actually say visit and


  6. David Xavier says:

    Social studies , only a “D” … well there’s an atrocity!


  7. Nick K says:

    Hattip, my 18 year old cousins who are all educated in the local public school could kick your ass on any social studies test.

    Don’t play games you don’t have the intelligence to win.


  8. Jim says:

    Hello there, Hattip!

    May I respectfully make a suggestion?

    In your post, you make reference to the “damage” done to Social Studies over the last 50 years. For the benefit of those among us without your experience, would you be so kind as to enumerate two or three examples of this?

    What, specifically, has been damaged in Social Studies curriculum? I have my own ideas, of course, but I’d like to know yours. Specifics are usually very helpful.

    I eagerly await your input!

    Hope you have a great day,



  9. Ellie says:


    I think I’ll have to call my grandson (9th grade) and ask him exactly what Marxist, PC cant he learned this week.

    With all our (NY) money problems, I’m surprised we got an A-. I would have expected it to be much lower.


  10. Ed Darrell says:

    Sometimes I think you’re a cartoon stereotype, Hattip.

    The very conservative Fordham Institute has Checker Finn as its president — the very conservative dynamo who was the Reagan administration’s point man on education reform, as Assistant Sec. of Education for Research. No one who has watched Finn nor the Fordham Institute for more than ten minutes could possibly think they are a “liberal organ.” (And let me add that I speak from experience up close: Finn was my boss at education. In addition to his being a genius, the most voracious reader on the face of the planet, an outstanding copy editor and thinker, a stickler for getting things correct, and a junkyard dog in a legislative fight for conservative causes, he’s very, very conservative.)

    So, in your first sentence, you must be referring to the Dallas Morning News, right?

    Well, the News is considered far right, even for Dallas County. It’s the paper that started the drive for “right to work” laws decades ago, and it’s moved to the right since then.

    You didn’t bother to look at either California or New York standards, I wager. Can you cite for us any example of “Marxist, PC cant” in those standards?

    No, I didn’t think so.

    I’d say your rant is unseemly, unfounded knee-jerk conservative rant, but I don’t see any evidence of a knee being involved, and the conservatives you just slandered disavow the position. No knee, no conservative — what’s remaining?

    Jefferson was right: Kids need to learn how to tell right from wrong in grammar school. Hattip demonstrates here how low the human condition can fall when such learning does not occur.


  11. hattip says:

    Really now, a liberal organ, which is all that issuing organization really is despite the window dressing, disapproves of departing from the left wing cant, and you think that this is some sort of intellectual “indictment”.

    The tip off should be that California and New York are both givenan A-. These are two of the worst offenders in the area of substituting Marxist, PC cant for “learning” (which, of course, shows that McCarthy did have his points after all).

    The “damage” that has been done tp what can only laughably be called “social studies” has been done by the Left, and it has been ongoing for 50 years or so.

    You are completely detached from reality and morally unhinged, not to mention wholly intellectually dishonest.

    See here and here/ (These show what the real game is.)

    You have been so indoctrinated that you cannot tell right from wrong. You are a glaring exemplar of everything that is wrong with that treasonous and retrograde conspiracy we call “Progressive Education”>


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