Blogging the Social Studies Debate III

9:14 – The board is back and continuing with eighth-grade American history.

9:24 – The board has just voted preliminary approval for the K-8 standards. The board will take a final vote on those standards tomorrow. Board members will now take up the high school standards.

9:27 – Don McLeroy is offering amendments to the high school American history standards. He wants to add a standard to a discussion of reform and third-party movements of the early 20th century. This is different from the proposed standard that he released publicly last Friday. His new revision would require students to “describe the optimism of the many immigrants who were thankful to find a better life in America.” He argues that this standard balances a more optimistic view of America with other discussions in the broader standard (Progressive Era reforms, muckrakers, etc.). Other board members persuade him to move his amendment elsewhere, to a discussion in the standards about political, economic, and social changes in the late 1800s.

9:37 – McLeroy changes his amendment: “”describe the optimism of the many immigrants who sought a better life in America.” This leaves the standard about muckrakers and Progressive Era reforms unmolested.

9:39 – McLeroy suggests adding “eugenics” to a study of social issues of the 1920s. Other issues in the standards include immigration, Social Darwinism, race relations nativism, the Red Scare, Prohibition and the changing role of women in society. The proposal passes.

9:40 – McLeroy proposes adding the Red Scare to a standard on U.S. responses to Soviet aggression after World War II. Pat Hardy isn’t sure McLeroy is using quite the correct term and suggests that he consult with historians. McLeroy withdraws his amendment until tomorrow.

9:44 – Is McLeroy skipping what he had proposed on Friday as a revision to a standard on McCarthyism? Seems that way for now.

9:47 – Now McLeroy offers his expected standard on global organizations: “evaluate efforts by global organizations to undermine U. S. sovereignty through the use of treaties.” HIs justification is that U.S. sovereignty is threatened by cooperation with international organizations. This is typical right-wing paranoia. In fact, we’re looking for the black helicopters he must think are circling the building.¬†Board member Bob Craig says the standard is too broad: “I’m not sure there’s a great deal of authority to support it or oppose it one way or another.” But guess what? It passes.

9:53 – And McLeroy offers another expected proposal, one that would require students to “discuss alternatives regarding long term entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, given the decreasing worker to retiree ratio.” Bob Craig suggests McLeroy is essentially asking students to be actuarials. Pat Hardy also agrees that learning about issues involving Social Security and Medicare is important, but she suggests this proposal is impractical.

9:56 – Cynthia Dunbar offers a substitute to McLeroy’s proposal: “discuss the solvency of longterm entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare.” That version passes. McLeroy says he’s done with amendments for high school U.S. history. Except for the sovereignty amendment, his efforts probably did little damage. It appears he is saving his anti-church/state separation amendment for later.

10:08 – Cynthia Dunbar wants to remove Delgado v. Bastrop ISD from a list of Supreme Court decisions, arguing correctly that Delgado was not a Supreme Court case. But Delgado was an important federal court case that barred segregation of schoolchildren of Mexican descent in Texas schools. She wants to add to the list Wisconsin v. Yoder, in which the Supreme Court found that laws requiring compulsory education past the eighth grade for Amish children violated the religious freedom of their parents. Dunbar’s proposal passes.

10:22 – Bob Craig proposes moving Delgado v. Bastrop ISD to a standard on civil rights litigation. The board approves the proposal.

10:25 – Lawrence Allen suggests specifically naming Barack Obama to a standard noting the 2008 election of the first black president of the United States. David Bradley proposes listing the name as Barack Hussein Obama. How petty. Bob Craig notes that presidents elsewhere in the standards aren’t identified with their middle names: “The intent of what you’re offering is quite obvious.” Barbara Cargill argues that the standards notes Henry Cabot Lodge. (Of course, Lodge wasn’t a president.) Is this really the kind of pettiness Texans want on the State Board of Education?

10:31 – Mary Helen Berlanga expresses her anger at the intent behind Bradley’s proposal: “It’s very derogatory and very bad manners.” Rene Nunez begs Bradley not to proceed with this proposal, noting how it would play in the press. Rick Agosto objects as well. Bradley withdraws his proposal.

10:34 – The original proposal to add Barack Obama’s name to the standard is approved without objection. The board agrees to use the name as listed on the White House biography website: Barack H. Obama.

10:44 – Bob Craig proposes replacing Phyllis Schlafly with Sandra Day O’Connor in a standard on the contributions of significant political and social leaders of the United States. Schlafly remains elsewhere in the standards. The proposal passes.

11:11 – Pat Hardy proposes revising a standard on Cold War tensions but keeping a reference to the so-called Venona Papers. This standard has been controversial efforts because of efforts by some board members to suggest that Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunts in the 1950s were somehow justified. Don McLeroy says no one is trying to “vindicate” Joseph McCarthy. He ignores, however, his own note that HE passed on to curriculum writers last fall in which he wrote: “Read the latest on McCarthy. He was basically vindicated.” He also had appointed to the curriculum teams a right-wing political activist who has repeatedly argued that the Venona Papers vindicate Joseph McCarthy. Hardy notes that her revision suggests that the Venona Papers confirmed findings of the House Un-American Activities Committee, not McCarthy or McCarthyism. Hardy’s proposal passes. The new standard reads: “describe how Cold War tensions were intensified by the arms race, the space race, McCarthyism, and the House Un-American Activities Committee, the findings of which were confirmed by the Venona Papers.”

11:26 – Pat Hardy proposes making Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract with America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association suggested examples in a standard on “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s.” Teachers would have the opportunity not to use those specific examples. A majority of board members reject her proposal. Those are still required examples.

11:28 – Pat Hardy proposes that a standard be revised so that it does not describe the monetary policy of the Federal Reserve System prior to the Great Depression as necessarily flawed. That proposal passes.

11:37 – Bob Craig proposes adding Sonia Sotomayor, the nation’s first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, to a standard on the political, social and economic contributions of women to American society. The proposal passes. Interestingly, Dolores Huerta, removed by the board’s conservatives from the third-grade standards because they say she’s a socialist, remains in this standard for the high school American history course. In any case, conservatives then propose changing the list of people in the standard from required examples to suggested examples. That proposal passes.

11:54 – Mary Helen Berlanga’s proposal to distinguish the internment of Japanese-Americans from that of German-Americans and Italian-Americans in World War II fails. David Bradley had succeeded in adding German-Americans and Italian-Americans to the standard in March. Cynthia Dunbar, however, offers a compromise that does essentially what Berlanga wanted by noting the executive order to intern Japanese-Americans. That passes.

12:10 – The board has adjourned for the evening and will have to finish debate on other high school courses tomorrow. We’ll continue live-blogging in the morning.

13 thoughts on “Blogging the Social Studies Debate III

  1. Well, I’m giving up. The audio and video feed is nearly worthless. Pleasant evening to all.

  2. In Wisconsin v. Yoder, C.J. Burger grossly misrepresented Jefferson, as well as the Wisconsin briefs, to write an opinion that’s useful now for home schoolers. Burger wrote that members of old established religions have rights that members of newfangled religions might not have. (I don’t know where Mormonism falls on that spectrum.) See my book, Constitution and Curriculum.

  3. BTW, I was in Iowa in the years leading up to Yoder, I and remember watching on TV as the truant officers chased Amish children through the rows of corn. Quite entertaining, as you might imagine.

  4. These people are so ignorant.

    “Henry Cabot Lodge” was NEVER referred to as “Henry Lodge.”

    John F. Kennedy was referred to as John F. Kennedy.

    Those are not reasons for inserting “Hussein” into the standard, or making it “Barak H. Obama.”

    Why not include a standard on the President’s birth certificate?

    It was sometimes said of their idea of their self-important aristocracy that “the Cabots speak only to the Lodges and the Lodges speak only to God”

    I bet the standards have “Jimmy Carter,” not “James Earl Carter.”

  5. I can not tell you how depressing this debate is. I teach social studies in high school, and to hear these ignorant people creating a cumbersome, unworkable framework for my course just makes me sick. Seriously, what on earth are teachers supposed to do with this? How on earth will they create end of course exams that students have a hope in heck of passing with this level of random pointless detail? (And factual errors!).

    The worst part? They aren’t even done. I can’t wait till tomorrow.

  6. Is it just me, or does Lowe remind anybody else of Captain Peacock in Are you being served?:

    “Does the member wish to answer the other member’s question?”
    [“Are you free, Mr. Humphries?”

    “Mrs. Slocumbe, would you answer X (a question asked by another salesperson)?]

  7. Jess, you can’t “teach” this crap. It’s memorization of pointless unconnected factoids, not learning and it certainly does not lead to critical thinking and analysis of anything.

  8. Well, I am glad to see that at least some of you had some fun after I went to bed last night. The events of today are unknown to me as of now, so I shall go read the posts and threads above and see what depredations were commited in the name of the Lord today.