Bill to Protect Calif. Against 'Threat' of New Texas Ed Curriculum Vetoed

Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed a bill seeking to ensure that recent changes to Texas' social studies curriculum in no way affect California's.

In his veto message Tuesday, the governor said he was returning Senate Bill 1451 without his signature because it "is duplicative and unnecessary."

"An adequate process is already in place to ensure that the California State Board of Education adopts an appropriate History-Social Science Framework for our state's schools and students," Schwarzenegger wrote. "For this reason, I am unable to sign this bill."

S.B. 1451, authored by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), had passed the Assembly in a 50-28 vote on Aug. 30. It passed the Senate 22-14 the next day and reached the governor's desk three weeks ago.

The bill claimed that the recent changes in Texas "pose a serious threat" to existing education standards in California as well as a "threat to the apolitical nature of public school governance and academic content standards" in the state.

"[T]he revisions are a sharp departure from widely accepted historical teachings that are driven by an inappropriate ideological desire to influence academic content standards for children in public schools," it added.

In a 9-5 partisan vote back in May, the Texas State Board of Education had approved the new social studies curriculum that will serve as the framework in Texas classrooms for the next ten years.

The new Texas standards, which were approved after 18 months of work, have been slammed by critics for the greater emphasis they put on the role of Christianity in the founding of the nation, among other changes. Protesters say the revision is a vehicle to impose and promote political and religious ideology upon millions of public school students.

"The right-wing fundamentalist bloc on the Texas State Board of Education is bound and determined to rewrite American history," commented Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Supporters of the new curriculum, however, say it is those opposed to Christianity who have been trying to rewrite the history books.

They claim that a select group of teachers and professors sought to diminish and downplay Independence Day, Veterans Day, religious heritage, Thomas Edison and more.

"[The fringe left] want unlimited control over what students learn, to radically change the worldview of our next generation by distorting history," claimed faith-based legal group Liberty Institute.

As Texas is the second-largest textbook market in the country, the new curriculum is expected to influence publishers and thus the textbooks used in classrooms nationwide – a possibility that prompted Sen. Yee to author S.B. 1451.

Under the legislation, the state board would have been required to inform the chairperson of the Assembly Committee on Education, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Education, and the secretary for Education of content that it interprets is the result of changes to the Texas standards. The bill also included other safeguards.

With more than 6.2 million students attending K-12 public schools, California is the largest purchaser of textbooks in the United States. Texas, the second largest, has some 4.8 million K-12 students.

Christian Post reporter Lawrence D. Jones in San Francisco contributed to this article.