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SBOE Pushes Politics in Social Studies Standards

Board Members Gut Work of Curriculum Teams

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 13, 2010

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller pointed at the blatant politicization of social studies curriculum standards today as yet more evidence that the Legislature must act to protect the education of Texas schoolchildren.

"When partisan politicians take a wrecking ball to the work of teachers and scholars, you get a document that looks more like a party platform than a social studies curriculum," Miller said. "The video archive of this week's meeting would be a great primer for parents and lawmakers on how politics is undermining the education of Texas schoolchildren."

Texas lawmakers in the last legislative session failed to pass any reforms that would rein in the board's authority over curriculum and textbooks. 

On Thursday and today, the state board moved to gut a year's worth of work by teachers and scholars who drafted new curriculum standards for Texas public schools. Among the actions the board took this week:

- The board accepted an amendment that suggests McCarthyist smear tactics in the 1950s were justified.

- The board adopted a standard that specifically promotes the views of conservative icons such as Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract with America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association, while deliberately ignoring progressive political figures.

- The board removed a specific requirement that students learn about the efforts of women and ethnic minorities to gain equal rights, replacing it with vague language about "various groups."

- Board conservatives won approval for a variety of proposals that would promote partisan political positions on the role of government and taxation.

- The board even removed the concepts of justice and the common good from a list of characteristics of good citizenship.

On Thursday and Friday the state board debated and amended draft curriculum standards for Grades K-8 social studies classes and high school U.S. history. Board members voted today to postpone debate on other high school standards until March. That means the board will not be able to take a final vote on adopting new social studies curriculum standards until May. 

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The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of religious and community leaders who support public education, religious freedom and civil liberties.

 

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