Texas Board Approves Revised Social Studies Curriculum

The Texas State Board of Education voted on Friday to approve new standards for social studies classes.

The 11-4 vote was a preliminary approval for a curriculum that will serve as the framework in Texas classrooms for the next 10 years.

Debate on the standards began months ago when the board was originally scheduled to take its first vote. Additional time was needed to evaluate and revise curriculum standards.

Some of the board members have been accused of trying to impose their political and religious agenda on millions of public school students as they pushed for more emphasis on religion and the role Christianity played in America's founding.

Don McLeroy, considered the more outspoken Christian on the board, told ABC News that they're just trying to provide accurate history.

"My observation is the left doesn't even know they have biased it (curriculum) because they just think that's what it is," said McLeroy, who recently lost his seat on the board but will serve until the end of this year. By adding figures like former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and the conservative movement in social studies standards, McLeroy says all they are doing is "reflecting what's actually happened in the country."

After days of debate this week, the board made a slate of revisions.

Among the decisions, it rejected an amendment that would require students to study the reasons "the founding fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring the government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others."

It, however, agreed to add references to "laws of nature and nature's God" in a section in U.S. history that requires students to explain major political ideas.

Also, rather than refer to the form of U.S. government as "democratic," the board opted for a "constitutional republic."

Texas has the second largest school system in the nation, behind California, and is the second-largest textbook market in the country. The Lone Star state can thus have influence over the reading material used in classrooms nationwide.

The State Board of Education, however, notes that new social studies textbooks are not scheduled to be selected until 2011 and that though publishers may offer other states the Texas edition of a book, they are not required to select it.

A final vote on the new social studies curriculum will be taken in May.