What started with a roar of outrage last May, ended last week with a whimper. And without a vote.
At their meeting last Thursday, the State Board of Education finally got around to addressing the mountain of criticism that has been heaped on the new social studies standards the board adopted last year. New board member Michael Soto, D-San Antonio, argued that there is no reason not to review and correct the mangled standards, since there is unlikely to be funding for any new instructional materials anytime soon. Soto was succinct:
“We can and should do better.”
Soto’s request — which was supported by several other members — did not elicit the full-throated debate we have become accustom to with this board. Their response was more like a shrug. It was clear that the board simply lacks the will to redo the standards. There wasn’t even a vote. Barring intervention by the Legislature, which seems unlikely, this was probably the board’s final discussion on social studies.
It was a sad end to an embarrassing chapter in the board’s history. Almost a year out from their approval, you can’t find anyone — outside of Don McLeroy, David Barton and a handful of true-believers — who is willing to argue that these standards are the best we can do in Texas. Certainly no reputable historians or social science scholars are stepping forward to defend their rigor or accuracy. Nonetheless, the board seems anxious to close the book and just move on.
On some level, that is the most damning indictment of Texas’ process for curriculum adoption we can imagine — the admission that we aren’t even interested in creating the best possible standards for our students. We’re fine with “good enough.”