The State Board of Education tentatively approved new standards for social studies Friday with members divided along party lines — some blasting them as a fraud and conservative whitewash, others praising them as a tribute to the Founding Fathers that rightly portrays America as an exceptional country.Having not seen the curriculum or standards, I can offer no comment on the substance of the document, but this just proves how politically contentious the formulation of a curriculum can be.
The standards, which will influence history and government textbooks arriving in public schools in fall 2011, were adopted by 10 Republicans against five Democrats after weeks of debate and across a racial and ideological chasm that seemed to grow wider as the proposal was finalized Thursday.
The document faces a public hearing and a final board vote in May.
The often contentious process has been watched closely across the nation, particularly this week as the board gathered to debate and vote on the proposed standards. Because of Texas' size, decisions by the board on what should and should not be included can influence publishers whose textbooks may be adopted by other states.
Democrats on the board — all of them black or Hispanic — complained the new standards dilute minority contributions to Texas and U.S. history.
“We have been about conservative versus liberal. We have manipulated the standards to insist on what we want to be in the document, regardless whether it's appropriate,” said Mavis Knight, D-Dallas. “We are perpetrating a fraud on the students of this state.”
But Terri Leo, R-Spring, called the proposal “a world class document” and told her Democratic colleagues the board has “included more minorities and historical events than ever before ... I am very disappointed at those allegations because they are simply not true.”
Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, said the proposed standards reflect the desires of his constituents to emphasize “personal responsibility and accountability” and “to honor our Founding Fathers, and our military.”
Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi, said the standards ignore the Ku Klux Klan in Texas, Texas Rangers “killing Mexican-Americans without justification” and the U.S. Army's role in the attempted extermination of American Indians.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Just In Case You Didn't Think Curricula Were Political
Check out this story from Texas: