Texas Liberal

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Calling All Smart Kids—Come To Texas To Compete For College Spots And Jobs Against Kids Who Get Right-Wing Education In Public Schools

File:Sam-houston-school-maryville.jpg

The Texas State Board of Education is talking about changes in what  kids learn about history and social studies in public schools. They want to shift the curriculum away from the facts and towards the political and Christian right.

Here is a Houston Chronicle article on the subject.   

( Above–A schoolhouse in Maryville, Tennessee where Sam Houston taught in the early 1800’s. Here is the link to the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville, Texas. This schoolhouse in Maryville is open to the public and has an interesting history. Please click here to learn more about it.)

The Wall Street Journal has also written about this subject. Here is the link to that story.  From the article—

“The Texas Board of Education, which recently approved new science standards that made room for creationist critiques of evolution, is revising the state’s social studies curriculum. In early recommendations from outside experts appointed by the board, a divide has opened over how central religious theology should be to the teaching of history.”

The articles here speak for themselves. What is to be taught is a right-wing inaccurate version of the facts. Parents, and all concerned citizens, can decide to take a role in this debate or they can just ignore it all.

Here is the link to the Texas State Board of Education.

People say that having kids changes you and that people care about their kids more than anything. What I see is apathy about education and parents who lack the imagination and the willingness to prepare kids for the demands of adulthood.

I’m happy to be proven wrong on this— But it won’t be individual examples of great education and great parenting that impress. I know these things take place all the time.

What will convince me is a well-educated society as a whole, and parents who take the time needed for their own kids and who are willing to meet the tax burden required to provide a decent education for all kids.  

In the meantime, if you’ve got a smart hard-working kid, bring the kid to Texas and take advantage of the weak competition for college spots and good jobs. 

 From the Houston Chronicle article—

Biographies of Washington, Lincoln, Stephen F. Austin? Not fit reading material for children in the early grades. Cesar Chavez? Not worthy of his role-model status. Christianity? Emphasize its importance. Such suggestions are part of efforts to rewrite history books for the state’s schoolchildren, producing some expert recommendations that are sure to inflame Texans, no matter their political leanings.

The State Board of Education expects to start discussing new social studies curriculum standards this week, with members of the public getting their first opportunity to speak this fall and a final board vote next spring.

The process is a long one with lasting impact: reshaping the social studies curriculum, including history, for 4.7 million Texas public school children. “This is something that every parent would want to be paying attention to… ”

Curriculum standards are updated about every 10 years; the last social studies update came in 1997. According to a preliminary draft of the new proposed standards, biographies of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Stephen F. Austin have been removed from the early grades, said Brooke Terry of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The early draft, which is likely to change multiple times in the coming months, also removes Independence Day, Veterans’ Day, and anthems and mottos for bothTexas and the United States in a section on holidays, customs and celebrations, she said. “You have the ability to shape the next generation on the beliefs about the government and the role of personal responsibility but also understanding our history and the principles that we want to pass down to our children,” Terry said. “With many of the suggested changes, I think we would be backtracking on many of the important things that people fight for in defense of our country.”

The State Board of Education has appointed six experts to review existing social studies standards, which will influence the new curriculum. Two of them have recommended that migrant farm labor union leader Cesar Chavez, who died in 1993, be removed as an example of a significant model for “active participation in the democratic process.”

“Chavez is hardly the kind of role model that ought to be held up to our children as someone worthy of emulation,” said Peter Marshall, head of Marshall Ministries.  Another expert reviewer, David Barton, said: “Cesar Chavez may be a choice representing diversity, but he certainly lacks the stature, impact and overall contributions of so many others; and his open affiliation with Saul Alinsky’s movements certainly makes dubious that he is praiseworthy … .”

Alinskyinfluenced the Texas Industrial Areas Foundation, a number of church-based groups that help give low-income Texans a voice and a role in democracy. Those groups include The Metropolitan Organization in Houston. “Cesar Chavez was one of those great historical figures that struggled for better wages and working conditions of America’s farm workers so that they and their families could enjoy a better future,” said Irene Jimenez, a TMO executive board member.

Marshall, one of the expert reviewers, also recommends that school children get a better understanding of the motivational role the Bible and the Christian faith played in the settling of the original colonies. He provided multiple examples of early Americans parlaying their biblical views into the communities and governments they established — beginning with the Pilgrims who risked their lives in coming to America.

One of the reviewers also suggested that the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall be removed from history books on grounds that he is not an appropriate example as a historical figure of influence. Thurgood Marshall was the NAACP lawyer who won the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme court school segregation case that led to the integration of public schools.

Some of the specfics of the changes from the Wall Street Journal–

  • Replace ThurgoodMarshall with Harriet Tubman or Sam Houston.
  • In first grade, students are expected to study the contributions of Americans who have influenced the course of history. Rev. Peter Marshall, a reviewer, calls Thurgood Marshall — who as a lawyer argued Brown v. Board of Education and later became the first black justice on the U.S. Supreme Court — a weak example.

    • Delete Anne Hutchinson from a list of colonial leaders

    Students learn about colonial history in the fifth grade, and three reviewers suggested that the standards not include Anne Hutchinson, a 17thcentury figure, among a list of significant leaders. Ms. Hutchinson was exiled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for teaching religious views at odds withthe officially sanctioned faith.

    • Delete César Chávez from a list of figures who modeled active participation in the democratic process

    Two reviewers objected to citing Mr. Chávez, who led a strike and boycott to improve working conditions for immigrant farmhands, as an example of citizenship for fifth-graders. “He’s hardly the kind of role model that ought to be held up to our children as someone worthy of emulation,” Rev. Marshall wrote.

    • Emphasize study of original documents

    The three reviewers appointed by social conservatives on the board all say students should study more original documents, rather than relying on a textbook author to interpret them. The current standards rely too much on supplementary material such as poetry, folktales and art, they say, and too little on original documents and historical narratives.

    • Include more study of religious revival movements

    Evangelist Billy Graham should be included on a list of transformational leaders of the 20thcentury and students in fifth and eight grades should study the colonial-era religious revival known as the Great Awakening as a force “in shaping a national identity,” suggests reviewer Daniel Dreisbach, a professor of public affairs at American University.

    • Replace references to America’s “democratic” values with “republican” values

    Reviewer David Barton suggests swapping out “republican” for “democratic” in teaching materials. As he explains: “We don’t pledge allegiance to the flag and the democracy for which it stands.”

    Curriculum changes recommended by reviewers appointed by moderate and liberal members of the Texas State Board of Education:

    • Tone down emphasis on the Cold War

    Reviewer Lybeth Hodges, a history professor at Texas Woman’s University, suggests revising the standards that set current events in the Cold War framework of democracy versus communism. She calls for adding study of Arab nations and Islam.

    • Add more Latino historical figures

    Reviewer Jesús F. de la Teja, a former state historian, calls for adding names such as Juan de Oñate, who led the Spanish expedition that settled New Mexico and José Antonio Navarro, a proponent of Texas independence. He also recommends a deeper study of Texas history.

    • Reword references to minorities’ “contributions” to society

    Mr. de la Tejaarguesthatit marginalizes women and people of color to talk about their “contributions to society,” as though they are standing outside and only offering a few crumbs of value. He prefers standards to use the phrase “role in society,” which he says emphasizes that minorities have a significant place in culture and history.

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    July 14, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , ,

    5 Comments »

    1. I think the dichotomy posited between facts and interpretation is a false one. Who chooses which “facts” get taught? When we include some facts and not others, we are reflecting a perspective that values one fact over another. It is the perspective, at core, which makes students remember the facts, as well. When students are merely asked to memorize names, dates, events, etc., how long does that information get retained beyond the day of the test? Perspective – interpretation – analysis – these are the tools that explain why a given set of facts matter, and ideas about what matters are always going to vary among people. That, in fact, is why teaching history (not memorization) in schools is so very important: by teaching the skills of analysis and critical thinking, of evidence and argumentation, students learn to interpret the ideologies underlying every presentation of meaning – most especially those that are presented as “objective truth.” History changes because societies change – not because what happened in the past has changed, but because the meaning we find in it does.

      Comment by JanetHutchinson | July 14, 2009

    2. I know that much of this is political, but when you’re getting into stuff like gutting study of the Fourth of July and and Veteran’s Day, you’re getting into to pretty far right stuff.

      It’s about a view of society that sees a big role for a narrow concept of one specfic religion and a much diminished role for the our shared values of living as one in tandem with our elected federal government, and broad acceptance of people’s varying religious beliefs.

      Comment by Neil Aquino | July 14, 2009

    3. […] to one of the six “expert reviewers” revising the 1997 curriculum, Chavez: “lacks the stature, impact and overall contributions of so many others; and his open affiliation with Saul Alinsky’s […]

      Pingback by Texas set to white wash U.S. history « SpeakEasy | March 17, 2010

    4. […] to one of the six “expert reviewers” revising the 1997 curriculum, Chavez: “lacks the stature, impact and overall contributions of so many others; and his open affiliation with Saul Alinsky’s […]

      Pingback by Texas Set to White Wash U.S. History « Coreys Views | March 18, 2010

    5. […] to one of the six “expert reviewers” revising the 1997 curriculum, Chavez: “lacks the stature, impact and overall contributions of so many others; and his open affiliation with Saul Alinsky’s […]

      Pingback by USA: Whitewashing history in Texas schools-TheLoop21 « FACT – Freedom Against Censorship Thailand | March 30, 2010


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