Cover of the Texas edition of McGraw-Hill’s World Geography (image from Birdville ISD site)
Oh, the power of one angry mother!
It’s not like we weren’t warned, by people like the Texas Freedom Network. The last round of “book approvals” by the Texas State Board of Education introduced some stunning inaccuracies into books used in Texas history, geography and economics classrooms. GOP appointees and board members worked hard to make sure even correct history standards could be skewed in actual texts.
One Houston-area mother saw her son’s text for world geography, videoed the thing and put it up on Facebook. Surprisingly, the publisher, McGraw-Hill, backed down, and promised fixes.
This week, we became aware of a concern regarding a caption reference to slavery on a map in one of our world geography programs. This program addresses slavery in the world in several lessons and meets the learning objectives of the course. However, we conducted a close review of the content and agree that our language in that caption did not adequately convey that Africans were both forced into migration and to labor against their will as slaves.
We believe we can do better. To communicate these facts more clearly, we will update this caption to describe the arrival of African slaves in the U.S. as a forced migration and emphasize that their work was done as slave labor. These changes will be reflected in the digital version of the program immediately and will be included in the program’s next print run.
McGraw-Hill Education is committed to developing the highest quality educational materials and upholding the academic integrity of our products. We value the insight the public brings to discussions of our content.
World geography was usually taught in the 9th grade in Texas; recent changes in requirements pushed world geography to a lesser status; many Texas kids get to pick between world geography and world history (both used to be required).
Students are old enough to need to know the truth on these issues. That is not to say that history books should stretch or chop the truth at any time, but it is to note that students in early high school are developing an ethical outlook on their lives. Adults, including book publishers, need to lead exemplary lives.
What other errors didn’t get the public scrutiny they deserved a few years ago?
Incidentally, the gone-but-not-forgotten CSCOPE collaborative by Texas teachers helped to fight this kind of history revisionism with accurate history sources and lesson plans. That’s why the Texas right wing attacked CSCOPE.
Isn’t the TAKS Test dead? Not yet — zombie like, it still prowls the nightmares of older students working to get a Texas diploma. Test review and practice in this post
You can do it; and if you’ve been out of class for a while, or if you just want to boost your score, here’s a review, and a few lines down here is a link to a place to take an on-line practice test which you can get scored. The practice test questions should be mostly phased out by now, but the topics will remain.
It’s spring, and a young person’s fancy and earnest wishes turn to acing these tests to get a high school diploma.
Here’s a generalized, much truncated list of things high school juniors need to know, according to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). This is a list from which the TAKS test questions will be drawn.
Earlier posts provided the definitions of each of these terms and phrases — check those out in your study, too.
Last time the SBOE approved social studies books in 2010, the process was contentious. This photo, from The Christian Science Monitor, shows protests on the books; photo by Larry Kolvoord, Austin American-Statesman
Good news a few days ago was that the Texas State Board of Education approved science books that teach real science, for use in Texas schools.
But the Road Goes On Forever, and the Tea Party Never Ends: Social studies books are up for review, now.
TEA is looking for nominations for reviewers for books in social studies, math and fine arts. Here’s the notice I got in e-mail:
The Texas Education Agency is now accepting nominations to the state review panels that will evaluate instructional materials submitted for adoption under Proclamation 2015.
Proclamation 2015 calls for instructional materials in the following areas:
♦ Social Studies, grades K-12
♦ Social Studies (Spanish), grades K-5
♦ Mathematics, grades 9-12
♦ Fine Arts, grades K-12
State review panels are scheduled to convene in Austin for one week during the summer of 2014 to review materials submitted under Proclamation 2015. The TEA will reserve hotel lodging and reimburse panel members for all travel expenses, as allowable by law.
Panel members should plan to remain on-site for five days to conduct the evaluation.
Panel members will be asked to complete an initial review of instructional materials prior to the in-person review.
Panel members will receive orientation and training both prior to the initial review and at the beginning of the in-person review.
Panel members might be asked to review additional content following the in-person review.
Because many of the samples will be delivered electronically, panel members should be comfortable reviewing materials on-screen rather than in print.
Panel members should also have a working knowledge of Microsoft Excel.
Upon initial contact by a representative of the TEA, state review panel nominees begin a “no-contact” period in which they may not have either direct or indirect contact with any publisher or other person having an interest in the content of instructional materials under evaluation by the panel. The “no contact” period begins with the initial communication from the Texas Education Agency and ends after the State Board of Education (SBOE) adopts the instructional materials. The SBOE is scheduled to adopt Proclamation 2015 materials at its November 2014 meeting.
Lumberton ISD Response to CSCOPE and Promotion of Islam
Recently a picture had surfaced showing five students dressed in burqas (Islamic attire) in a World Geography classroom at Lumberton High School. The lesson that was offered was not a written CSCOPE lesson; however it informed students to the customary culture of the people in the Middle East. The lesson that occurred was presented on February 1, 2013. As part of the curriculum from the World Geography TEKS (as prescribed by the state of Texas), the students are to study the culture (TEKS number 17):
“Culture. The student understands the distribution, patterns, and characteristics of different cultures.” The student is expected to:
(A) describe and compare patterns of culture such as language, religion, land use, education, and customs that make specific regions of the world distinctive;
(B) describe major world religions, including animism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism, and their spatial distribution;
(C) compare economic, political, or social opportunities in different cultures for women, ethnic and religious minorities, and other underrepresented populations; and
(D) evaluate the experiences and contributions of diverse groups to multicultural societies.”
The lesson that was offered focused on exposing students to world cultures, religions, customs, and belief systems. A description on the whiteboard behind the students show the splits in religions: Islam (Sunni and Shia), Judaism (Reform, Conservatives, and Orthodox), and Christianity (Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant). Clothing expresses the individual culture. The lesson is not teaching a specific religion, and the students volunteered to wear the clothing.
The portrait focused only on Middle Eastern attire and the students are wearing variations of this customary attire found in the Middle Eastern culture. This portrait does not reflect the entire aspect of the lesson. The lesson encompassed diversity education so students receive a firm understanding of our world and why people are motivated differently.
Lumberton ISD has purchased the CSCOPE curriculum however; the teachers are not required to teach the lessons that are provided. The school district follows the Year at a Glance, a scope and sequence of the adopted Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, as well as the Instructional Focus Document which explains the Rationale, Common Misconceptions for students, TEKS, and the Key Academic Vocabulary that supports conceptual development. The district has great teachers and supports the teachers and their individuality in methods of instructional delivery.
Lumberton is a small town of about 12,000 people (2010 Census) a few miles north of Beaumont. Lumberton Independent School District (ISD) schools are “recognized” under the old, just-outdated school and district rating system Texas used, suggesting that student achievement was above average. State test scores tend to show the same. If this is their example, we should note that in addition to characterizing the lesson wrong, getting wrong the facts of students trying on clothes of other cultures, and the fact that this exercise is not at all related to CSCOPE, the students seem to be learning well.
Kudos to Lumberton, and to CSCOPE, right? Not for the Right Wing Crazies.
On this burqa thing? I’m willing to say no kid has ever been “forced” to wear a burqa for any school purpose — though some may have put on a costume for a report (is that bad?).
In short, I find the critics of CSCOPE to be at odds with the facts, making stuff up to yell about. Almost every single one of the criticisms for how the Texas standards on Islam are taught, involves the fact that Islam is taught about at all. CSCOPE critics claim “indoctrination” when it’s clear from lesson plans, support materials, texts, state standards, and test results, that students are simply learning about history, geography and culture.
Shame on any politician who acts on such unhinged, false rants.
There’s a “debate” between Texas State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Bedlam, and the most sane member of the Texas State Board of Education, Thomas Ratliff, set for this Saturday, in Tyler. One wonders how absurd it can get. Will Patrick tell us which Texas school forced kids to wear burqas? Don’t bet on it. Will Patrick provide any other evidence of rampant socialism or Marxism in Texas schools? No, don’t bet on that, either.
More (good and bad information here; caveat emptor:
The world is still safe for fairness. Joseph McCarthy remains in his grave on the banks of the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin; Texas critics of schools and teachers should leave McCarthy’s scurrilous methods and false claims buried, too.
Spread the word; friends don't allow friends to repeat history.
Thanks to generous support from the National Geographic Education Foundation, TAGE has created new resources for geography teachers. A huge thank you to Dr. Brock Brown, Dr. Jeff Lash, Linda Hammon, and our Teacher Consultants for their help with creating these resources. Visit our new Teacher Materials page at http://www.geo.txstate.edu/tage/resources/teacher-materials.html, for videos, podcasts, new eoc sample questions, teaching handbooks, and lesson plans.
83rd Texas Legislature – How to Track a Bill
You can create a personal bill list and receive e-mail notification as the status changes on bills you chose to watch.
June 11-13, San Marcos, Social Studies Supervisors Summer Institute: Teaching Geography Concepts, more information coming soon on the TAGE website
Webinar Series on Southeast Asia
Did you know that Southeast Asia has a population over 600 milion? This culturally diverse region encompasses a pivotal position in the world economy. Join Dr. Frederick Day in exploring various geographic issues related to Southeast Asia in TAGE’s new, free webinar series featuring this interesting and diverse region.
February 5th, 4:15-4:45: Physical Geography of Southeast Asia
February 12th, 4:15-4:45: Economic Development in Southeast Asia
February 26th, 4:15-4:45: Environmental Degradation in Southeast Asia
TAGE Awarded Two New Grants TAGE is pleased to announce that we have recently received two grants to create a World Geography curricula unit focusing on Southeast Asia. Grants have been awarded by the National Geographic Education Foundation and a second grant by Humanities Texas. TAGE will create an online teaching unit complemented by videos and professional development webinars. Keep an eye on our calendar to learn more about the new and exciting opportunities related to teaching geography and Southeast Asia in the coming months.
2013 Grosvenor Teacher Fellow program – Deadline January 8th
National Geographic Education Programs and Lindblad Expeditions are pleased to announce the 2013 Grosvenor Teacher Fellow program. This professional development opportunity is named in honor of Gilbert M. Grosvenor, Chairman Emeritus National Geographic Society and Education Foundation. The program is designed to give current K-12 classroom teachers and informal educators from the 50 U.S. states, Canada, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico the opportunity to extend Grosvenor’s legacy of excellence in geographic education. Selected educators will travel aboard the ship National Geographic Explorer in June, July or August 2013 to Norway, Arctic Svalbard, Iceland, Greenland or the Canadian High Arctic. While aboard, Fellows will share the importance of geo-literacy with fellow travelers, develop activities to bring back to their classrooms, and have an adventure of a lifetime. Prior to the expedition, all 2013 Grosvenor Teacher Fellows will travel to Washington, D.C. on April 25-28th with all expenses covered to participate in a pre-trip workshop sponsored by Google, National Geographic, and Lindblad Expeditions. Check out the Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program application, which is now live on our website: http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/program/grosvenor-teacher-fellow/?ar_a=1.
Worried about the World and U.S. History STAAR™ Exams?
Refresh your content knowledge of World and U.S. History … in 15 Minutes!
15 Minute History is a FREE podcast—with supplementary resources and primary documents—about World and U.S. History. 15 Minute History is a collaboration between Hemispheres, the international outreach consortium at the University of Texas at Austin, and Not Even Past, an outreach project of the Department of History at the University of Texas at Austin.
Featuring the minds and talent of the award-winning faculty and graduate students of the University of Texas at Austin, the topic of each episode is drawn directly from the World History and U.S. History TEKS, and contains background information and a quick primer on the subject.
Each episode is accompanied by primary documents to analyze with your students, and suggested resources for further reading and research. In just 15 minutes, you can refresh your knowledge of World and U.S. History—for FREE!
Children’s Map Competition Opportunity – Deadline February 15
Entries in the U.S. are not due until February 15, but it might be a good holiday-time project for classrooms to get started on. All of the instructions for participation can be accessed in this post from the NG Education blog.
NGS: New AP Human Geography Portal National Geographic Education has created a portal on the NatGeoEd.org website for AP Human Geography teachers to visit for teaching and learning resources, including classroom activities, videos, maps, background reading material, and more. The new portal organizes content from National Geographic Education by each of the major topics taught in the AP Human Geography course. The collection will grow over time as new content aligning to the course topics is published online.
ThePetersonFarmBros have a YouTube hit here, “I’m Farming and I Grow It”:
This is a great form of reality. How many other professions will jump into this game?
Teachers, here are those big farm machines shown doing what they do — technology applied, for history? If you teach in an urban or suburban school, as I do, many of your students have never seen these machines in action. Many have never seen these machines, period.
English and social studies teachers, use this as a warmup to an exercise for students to storyboard something, a short story, a chapter of history — somebody will have a student who can do a video with equal quality in music and video; no, it won’t meet the requirements for National History Day entries, but it’s a great start.
Will this video entice any other kids to go into farming? How could someone do a study of that?
No, seriously: This is great reality television. I can imagine a summer series with a half dozen of these videos per hour, running four or five weeks. Construction workers, cops, firefighters, teachers, nurses, physicians, auto mechanics, radio tower climbers, cargo airplane pilots, ferry boat captains, truck drivers . . . almost any occupation could fit, yes?
Here’s the YouTube site — lyrics are available there, and more information.
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.
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:
Presidents and the Constitution, Bill of Rights Institute
This Presidents and the Constitution focuses on Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation. Though he had always hated slavery, President Lincoln did not believe the Constitution gave him the authority to bring it to an end—until it became necessary to free the slaves in order to save the Union. With the Emancipation Proclamation, which he viewed as an essential wartime measure to cripple the Confederacy’s ability to fight, Lincoln took the first step toward abolition of slavery in the United States.
If you teach social studies, you probably know about the Bill of Rights Institute already — subscribe for lesson plans, news updates, and news about seminars. They do good work, and the provide great resources.
Spread the word; friends don't allow friends to repeat history.
Teachers looking for a good way to portray urban sprawl, for geography and history classes, should take a look at this photo essay at the New York Times; unfortunately for teachers, Christoph Gielen’s stunning aerial landscapes cannot be copied for PowerPoint.
(Caption from New York Times presentation): Untitled XI Nevada, 2010 This Vegas-area community was built by the same company that designed the circular communities on the outskirts of Phoenix in “Untitled X / XII / XI.” Credit: Christoph Gielen (Go see the presentation at the Times site to see the other photos)
This post is seventh in a series on the education planks of the 2010 Texas Democratic Party Platform.
This is an unofficial version published in advance of the final version from the Texas Democrats, but I expect very few changes.
Generally I’ll not comment on these planks just yet, but I must say that I take delight in the perhaps unintentional commentary offered in the title of this plank. I suspect the intent was to point to the bias of the State Board of Education, an imbalance of political views, and not to the sanity of the board. But, I could be wrong — the title may be just an official Democratic labeling of the Board’s actions as unbalanced behavior.
REFORM OF THE UNBALANCED STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
The right-wing Republican extremists who have dominated the State Board of Education have made a laughingstock of our state’s process for developing and implementing school curriculum standards that determine what our students learn. The damage they have done is no laughing matter. In rewriting the curriculum for social studies, English language arts, and science, they repeatedly have dismissed the sound advice of professional educators. Personal ideology, not high academic standards, has guided their work. Their skewed vision slights the contributions of racial and ethnic minorities. Their slanted versions of American history and of science mislead students and violate the separation of church and state. They use loaded language to favor the roles of right-wing organizations and activists. Led by a Rick Perry appointee as chair, this State Board of Education wants to indoctrinate, not educate, the schoolchildren of Texas. Their actions are unlikely to encourage a company to relocate and bring jobs to Texas. Any substantive changes to curriculum must be reviewed by non-partisan experts, and that review must be made public prior to any changes in curriculum by the State Board.
Texas Democrats will realign the State Board of Education with mainstream Texas values, will realign the state curriculum with objective reality and the facts of history and science, and will insist on the exercise of sober fiduciary responsibility for the Permanent School Fund, exposing and prohibiting conflicts of interest.
Spread the word; friends don't allow friends to repeat history.
When considering the political scene of the moment, it is difficult not to see how historical allegory plays an important role in the public spectacle known as the Tea Party movement. From the name itself, an acronym (Taxed Enough Already) that fuses current concerns to a patriotic historical moment, to the oral and written references by some of its members to Stalin and Hitler, the Tea Party appears to be steeped (sorry) in history. However, one has only to listen to a minute of ranting to know that what we really are talking about is either a deliberate misuse or a sad misunderstanding of history.
Misuse implies two things: first, that the Partiers themselves know that they are attempting to mislead, and second, that the rest of us share an understanding of what accurate history looks like. Would that this were true. Unfortunately, there is little indication that the new revolutionaries possess more than a rudimentary knowledge of American or world history, and there is even less reason to think that the wider public is any different. Such ignorance allows terms like communism, socialism, and fascism to be used interchangeably by riled-up protesters while much of the public, and, not incidentally, the media, nods with a fuzzy understanding of the negative connotations those words are supposed to convey (of course some on the left are just as guilty of too-liberally applying the “fascist” label to any policy of which they do not approve). It also allows the Tea Partiers to believe that their situation – being taxed with representation – somehow warrants use of “Don’t Tread On Me” flags and links their dissatisfaction with a popularly elected president to that of colonists chafing under monarchical rule.
While the specifics of the moment (particularly, it seems, the fact of the Obama presidency) account for some of the radical resentment, the intensity of feeling among the opposition these days seems built upon a total lack of historical perspective.
One might have thought it improbable, if not impossible.
Texas State Board of Education Member Cynthia Dunbar, in a parting shot, concedes the grounds upon which a challenge might be made to the gutting of social studies standards she wishes to accomplish today. Is there any doubt her intent is solely religious?
Legislation by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, seeks to protect the nation’s largest public school population from the revised social studies curriculum approved in March by the Texas Board of Education. Critics say if the changes are incorporated into textbooks, they will be historically inaccurate and dismissive of the contributions of minorities.
* * * * * *
Under Yee’s bill, SB1451, the California Board of Education would be required to look out for any of the Texas content as part of its standard practice of reviewing public school textbooks. The board must then report any findings to both the Legislature and the secretary of education.
The bill describes the Texas curriculum changes as “a sharp departure from widely accepted historical teachings” and “a threat to the apolitical nature of public school governance and academic content standards in California.”
“While some Texas politicians may want to set their educational standards back 50 years, California should not be subject to their backward curriculum changes,” Yee said. “The alterations and fallacies made by these extremist conservatives are offensive to our communities and inaccurate of our nation’s diverse history.”
Bully for California and Rep. Leland Yee.
Tip of the old scrub brush to HeyMash.
Spread the word; friends don't allow friends to repeat history.
Social studies curricula climb the scaffold to the gallows set by the “conservative” majority of the Texas State Board of Education today. If they get their way — and signs are they will — they will hobble social studies education for at least a half generation.
As The Dallas Morning News explains this morning, lame-duck board members fully intend to change Texas and American culture with their rewriting of history, de-emphasis of traditional history education, and insertion of what they consider pro-patriotic ideas in social studies.
AUSTIN – When social conservatives on the State Board of Education put the final touches on social studies curriculum standards this week, it will be a significant victory in their years-long push to imprint their beliefs upon what Texas students learn.
We in the part-time blogosphere can’t cover the meeting as it deserves — nor have we been able to mobilize pro-education forces to do what was needed to stop the board — yet.
McLeroy will make the most of his remaining time on the panel. He proposed several additions to the social studies standards for the board to consider this week. One would require students to “contrast” the legal doctrine of separation of church and state with the actual wording in the Bill of Rights that bars a state-established religion.
McLeroy has resurrected the old Cleon Skousen/David Barton/White Supremecist argument that “separation of church and state” does not appear in the Constitution, disregarding what the document and its amendments actually say. Jefferson warned that such discussions poison children’s education, coming prematurely as this one would be as McLeroy wants it.
It is discouraging. Under current history standards, Texas kids should know the phrase “shot heard ’round the world,” but they do not get exposure to the poem from which the phrase comes, nor to the poet (Emerson), nor exposure to Paul Revere whose ride inspired Longfellow later to write a poem that children have read ever since — except in Texas.
But under the new standards, Texas children will learn who Phyllis Schlafly is. Patriots are out; hypocrites and demagogues are in.
Spread the word; friends don't allow friends to repeat history.
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We've been soaking in the Bathtub for several months, long enough that some of the links we've used have gone to the Great Internet in the Sky.
If you find a dead link, please leave a comment to that post, and tell us what link has expired.
Retired teacher of law, economics, history, AP government, psychology and science. Former speechwriter, press guy and legislative aide in U.S. Senate. Former Department of Education. Former airline real estate, telecom towers, Big 6 (that old!) consultant. Lab and field research in air pollution control.
My blog, Millard Fillmore's Bathtub, is a continuing experiment to test how to use blogs to improve and speed up learning processes for students, perhaps by making some of the courses actually interesting. It is a blog for teachers, to see if we can use blogs. It is for people interested in social studies and social studies education, to see if we can learn to get it right. It's a blog for science fans, to promote good science and good science policy. It's a blog for people interested in good government and how to achieve it.
BS in Mass Communication, University of Utah
Graduate study in Rhetoric and Speech Communication, University of Arizona
JD from the National Law Center, George Washington University