And what is that reasoning? Earlier this month the Houston Chronicle interviewed Mercer, a San Antonio Republican, about the state board’s revision of social studies curriculum standards for public schools. Here’s what Mr. Mercer had to say about the teachers and scholars who spent last year working on drafts of the standards (drafts that Mercer and other board members then gutted with scores of detailed, ill-considered and politicized revisions):
“The first thing we saw was that in third and fourth grade they wanted to delete holidays of Veterans Day and Fourth of July. Well that’s always been there. … And (liberals said), ‘That’s (already) taught in kindergarten.’ They’re important holidays for our kids to understand and celebrate. So very early we saw a very leftist, anti-American, I’d call it an anti-veterans movement.”
Later in the interview, Mercer claims that newspaper editorial boards have been “lying” about what the board did in revising the standards. So when the Texas Education Agency posted the state board-approved social studies standards on its website Friday, we did a little fact-checking about Mercer’s claim regarding Independence Day and Veterans Day.
First, contrary to Mercer’s claim, Independence Day and Veterans Day haven’t been in the Grades 3 and 4 social studies standards since at least 1998, the last time those standards were revised before this past May. (It shouldn’t be surprising that those two American holidays aren’t in the Grade 4 standards — fourth-graders learn about Texas history, not American history. Didn’t Mercer read the standards before voting on them?)
Second, Independence Day and Veterans Day still aren’t in the new Grades 3 and 4 standards Mercer and the rest of the state board formally adopted in May. So does this mean that Mercer is an anti-American, anti-veteran leftist, too?
For what it’s worth, the curriculum writing teams (made up of teachers and scholars, folks Mercer calls anti-American and anti-veteran leftists) added Veterans Day to the elementary school standards for kindergarten and Grades 2 and 5 in the first drafts they submitted to the board in July 2009. One team noted in the margin that adding Veterans Day “emphasizes patriotism.” But don’t expect Mercer to acknowledge that — he’s too busy smearing teachers for supposedly hating their country.
We noticed something else. Memorial Day is mentioned in only Grades 2 and 5 for elementary students in the new standards (same as in the 1998 version). Why didn’t Mercer demand that kindergartners and students in Grades 1, 3 and 4 learn about Memorial Day and those who gave their lives in defense of our country? Well, the answer is clear: he must be an anti-American and anti-veteran leftist. After all, what other reason could there be? Right, Mr. Mercer?