Stop Whitewashing Confederate History in Texas Schools

Americans across the country are calling for the removal of statues that lie about the Confederacy and glorify its “heroes." But whitewashing the Confederacy's racist history goes far beyond statues, especially in Texas. Read More

Since the murder of nine people at an African-American church in Charleston last month and the renewed controversy over the Confederate flag that followed, we’ve seen a slew of stories about what public school textbooks teach about the Civil War. Very early on, we got a call from the Washington Post on this question. While that reporter generally did a good job explaining the nuances of the controversy in Texas, we’ve seen quite a few stories from other media outlets that haven’t quite hit the mark. So let’s set the record straight on some key questions.

In the first place, why would anyone outside the state care what Texas textbooks say about anything?

Because of the huge size of the Texas market, publishers have typically written their textbooks to conform to curriculum standards in this state and then also sold those textbooks in other states around the country. Technology, publishing methods and other factors have somewhat lessened the influence of Texas, but that influence remains strong. That’s largely a consequence of the economics of publishing.

So what’s the problem with the Texas curriculum standards?

Publishers write their textbooks to conform to curriculum standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), that are adopted by the State Board… Read More

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller, speaking Sunday on MSNBC’s The Melissa Harris-Perry Show, discussed how textbooks in Texas distort the history of the Civil War. Check out the interview in the short clip below.

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Former Texas State Board of Education chair Don McLeroy isn’t done distorting history.

While McLeroy was on the board in 2010, he and his colleagues gave Texas schools new social studies curriculum standards that downplay the primary role slavery played in the Civil War. Now, as a former SBOE member, he’s rewriting the role he and other board members played in writing those pretty much universally panned standards on which history textbooks for millions of Texas schoolchildren are based.

Here was McLeroy this week, appearing alongside TFN President Kathy Miller, on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show.” McLeroy defended the standards (as well as the ridiculous revision and approval process for those standards) and said some things that weren’t very accurate. Watch the clip in its entirety and we’ll have more below the fold.

On the causes of the Civil War, McLeroy says the board “never really discussed that very much.” He actually makes that claim twice in the “Ed Show” clip. Coincidentally, that’s how many times the board discussed (at length) the causes of the Civil War in just one day — May 20, 2010.

Thankfully, there’s video of that day. At just after the 9:30 mark of this clip, SBOE member Pat… Read More

The TFN Education Fund sent the following press release regarding proposed social studies textbooks up for consideration by the Texas State Board of Education this year.

Scholar Reviews Highlight Problems in Proposed Texas Social Studies Textbooks

Exaggerations, Distortions Reflect Flaws in Controversial Curriculum Standards

 

Social studies textbooks under state consideration for public schools this year include serious distortions of history and contemporary issues on topics ranging from religion and democracy to the free enterprise system and affirmative action, according to scholars who reviewed the new instructional materials for the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund.

Many of those problems are linked to heavily politicized and controversial curriculum standards adopted by the State Board of Education (SBOE) in 2010, TFN Education Fund President Kathy Miller said.

“In all fairness, it’s clear that the publishers struggled with these flawed standards and still managed to do a good job in some areas, Miller said. “On the other hand, a number of textbook passages essentially reflect the ideological beliefs of politicians on the state board rather than sound scholarship and factual history.”

The TFN Education Fund asked 10 scholars to review content in textbooks submitted for history, government and geography classes in Grades 6-12:… Read More

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