Opponents of Texas’ new social studies standards are hailing the introduction of a House resolution that criticizes the Texas State Board of Education.
The bill, H.Res. 1593, was introduced late last month by U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and claims that the elected officials at the Texas State Board of Education “disregarded many academically based recommendations and approved politically biased standards within the curriculum that are outside of mainstream scholarship.”
“[C]hanges made by the Texas State Board of Education, such as downplaying the struggle leading up to and during the civil rights movement and undermining basic concepts of the constitutionally mandated boundaries between institutions of religion and government are outside the mainstream of historical scholarship,” the resolution states.
This past May, the Texas Board of Education voted 9-5 to approve the social studies curriculum standards that will serve as the framework in Texas classrooms for the next ten years.
Opponents of the new textbook guidelines say the revision is a vehicle to impose and promote political and religious ideology upon millions of public school students.
Supporters of the new curriculum, however, say it is those opposed to Christianity who have been trying to rewrite the history books.
“[The fringe left] want unlimited control over what students learn, to radically change the worldview of our next generation by distorting history,” claims the Plano-based Liberty Institute.
“The fact is, the majority of the State Board of Education members saved Christmas, Rosh Hashanah, the Liberty Bell, Neil Armstrong, Jonas Salk, Mother Teresa, Albert Einstein, and George Patton,” the faith-based legal group notes in a website supporting the Texas Board of Education.
The legal group also claims that a select group of teachers and professors sought to diminish and downplay Independence Day, Veterans Day, religious heritage, Thomas Edison and more.
“These efforts were rejected by the majority of the State Board of Education, who are an elected body,” it states in juststatethefacts.com.
While Liberty Institute made no immediate remarks regarding H.Res. 1593, it has addressed a number of points brought out by Johnson and other opponents of the new standards, including the claim that board members have no teaching experience, that teachers and professors were kept out of the process, and that minorities and women have been diminished or “whitewashed” in the new standards.
Still, opponents of the new standards commended Johnson for her resolution, claiming in a letter of support that the “politicization of the process by which curriculum standards are adopted in Texas … has set a dangerous precedent that we fear could be repeated in other places.”
The Aug. 10 letter thanking Johnson was signed by groups including Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, the NAACP, the Texas Freedom Network, and the National Education Association.
As Texas has the second largest school system in the nation and is the second-largest textbook market in the country, the Lone Star state is expected to have influence over the reading material used in classrooms nationwide.
The new standards are scheduled to be phased in to classroom instruction in the 2011-12 school year and directly affect some 4.8 million K-12 students.