On Wednesday (March 10) the Texas State Board of Education will resume its debate — begun in January — on proposed new social studies curriculum standards for public schools. TFN Insider will blog from the meeting at the Texas Education Agency building in Austin.
The meeting begins at 11 a.m., and we anticipate that two hours of public testimony on the standards will begin not long afterward. (The board first has to dispose of two unrelated agenda items that haven’t been controversial so far.) The board will resume debating and amending the proposed draft of the social studies standards after public testimony is finished.
The state board failed to complete its “first reading” debate over the standards in January when the board’s far-right faction pushed through a deluge of amendments to nearly a year’s worth of work by teachers, scholars and other curriculum writers. Board members — mostly non-educators — made those numerous changes without asking even one scholar or classroom teacher to be present to offer advice and guidance.
This is what can happen when you ignore experts, don’t fully know your history, and are responsible for approving textbooks for Texas schoolchildren, according to critics worried about the State Board of Education:
You might delete someone recognized by Ladies’ Home Journal as one of the 100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century — citing her membership in a socialist organization.
You could ban a popular children’s author from textbooks because his name is the same as a professor who wrote favorably about Marxism.
You might even vote to teach youngsters that U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s 1950s crusade to smear suspected Communists was vindicated by later research on Soviet spying.
Read the whole thing here. It’s well worth your time. Prof. Keith Erekson, director of the University of Texas at El Paso Center for History Teaching & Learning, makes the problem pretty clear for the paper’s readers:
“Experienced review committees, invited experts and the public provide their feedback early in the process before the State Board of Education closes the door in order to do what they want to do. That would be like hiring top-rate engineers to design a car only to rush it off the assembly line without inspecting the final accelerator pedal.”
Check here for TFN Insider’s blogging from the state board meeting.