Blogging the Social Studies Debate III

6:07 – The board will pick up where it left off in January — with high school social studies courses. Chairwoman Gail Lowe explains that the board wants to finish the high school courses this evening and then consider new amendments to other courses discussed in January.

6:11 – The board is beginning with the high school world history course. The board is considering whether references to dates use the shorthand BC and AD instead of BCE and CE. Some board members suggest BC and AD are more traditional. Yes, but that’s not what students will encounter (for the most part) when they get to college. Board member Mavis Knight urges the board to ensure that students know historians use both dating methods. But board member Terri Leo says she wants the traditional dating approach: “I disagree with the whole philosophy of why we date.”

6:19 – Leo wants a recorded vote on whether students should learn dates with BC and AD or BCE and CE. Good grief. This is only the first amendment — there’s a long night ahead.

6:25 – BC and AD win, with Lowe voting in favor. Apparently, Lowe has decided to drop her policy — to which she adhered in January — not to vote as board chair. That will strengthen the far-right faction’s hand throughout this debate.

6:43 – We just got a look at four amendments board member Barbara Cargill will propose. Students would be expected to “explain three pro-free market factors contributing to European technological progress during the rise and decline of the medieval system” (what three factors?); “explain three pro-free market factors contributing to the success of Europe’s Commercial Revolution” (again, what three factors are those); “explain three benefits in the Industrial Revolution” (OK, but what three benefits?); and “explain three reasons why socialist central economic planning collapsed in competition with free markets at the end of the 20th century” (WHICH three reasons?).  First, Cargill gives publishers no suggestions for what factors and reasons she wants publishers to note or students to learn. Second, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have an economist and a historian on hand to advise the board about these amendments? For example, would “pro-free market factors” as understood today have existed in the feudal systems of the Middle Ages? We don’t know, and we seriously doubt board members have a clue themselves. But here we get another example of board members making changes to the standards on the fly with little understanding of what they’re really doing. We’ll let you know when these amendments come up for a vote.

7:10 – Now we have board members debating the causes of Middle East terrorism. A lot of scholars and experts have studied this, of course. How in the world would these board members be qualified to know the answer? Yet they are determined to put their opinions into the standards.

7:15 – Where are the scholars? The classroom teachers? Any experts at all? Not in this boardroom. The board decided in November to proceed on the demolition of these standards without any further guidance from teachers, historians or anyone else who would actually knows what they’re talking about. This is foolishness in the extreme. We wonder if Don McLeroy, a dentist, would support having lawyers, insurance salesmen and political activists make decisions about standards for teaching and training new dentists. We rather doubt it.

7:30 – The board just voted to remove Oscar Romero from a list of leaders who led resistance to political oppression. Board members said he wasn’t as significant as other examples listed in the standard — Nelson Mandela, Mohandas Ghandi and Chinese student protesters in Tiananmen Square. Yet it’s clear that most board members don’t even know who Romero was. (One board member: “He didn’t have his own movie like the others.” He then corrected himself because, of course, there was a major movie about Salvadoran archbishop who was assassinated in the 1980s.)

7:37 – The board just voted to add the late Israeli leader Golda Meir to the world history standards. Board member Rick Agosto was opposed to the motion, saying he’s upset the board is adding names while removing someone of Hispanic heritage (Romero). Board member Terri Leo: “Well, we’re adding a Jewish woman.”

8:21 – Board member Barbara Cargill’s amendments are up now. We noted these above at the 6:43 mark.

8:23 – Board member Pat Hardy echoes our point earlier: would “pro-free market factors” as we understand them today have existed in a feudal system in the Middle Ages?  Look, Cargill isn’t a historian. What in the world does she know about “pro-free market factors” in the Middle Ages? Or in any other era, for that matter? Board members are voting on something about which they know almost nothing. The amendment about “pro-free market factors” in the Middle Ages fails. The amendments on the Commercial Revolution, the Industrial Revolution pass. Good grief. Ignorance reigns tonight (again). Board member Pat Hardy points out that not all socialist economies have collapsed, offering Finland and Sweden as two examples. Cargill withdraws her motion on the collapse of socialist central economies.

8:43 – The board has voted to adjourn for the evening. The board will continue the social studies debate tomorrow morning.

18 thoughts on “Blogging the Social Studies Debate III

  1. I can’t wait to read the op-ed pieces about this train wreck. Only sociopaths can ignore the withering critcism the SBOE receives.

    And they don’t realize how genuinely ignorant and stupid they look.

  2. I just had two friends vow to pull their kids out of public school and home school. I am so sad that Texas is the laughing stock of the nation. I was hopeful that the results from the primary would alert the board that what they were doing was not ok. But it seems now that they are retaliating against the voice of the people that voted and doing what ever they want. I guess we just have to wait this out and maybe the new board will be better??? I hope…

  3. One board member: “He didn’t have his own movie like the others.” He then corrected himself because, of course, there was a major movie about Salvadoran archbishop who was assassinated in the 1980s.

    I kid you not, I thought someone was about to confuse Oscar Romero with George Romero.

    On a more serious note, are textbook writers going to have to work overtime on their Texas editions to include or exclude specific historical figures, or will they just write their individual books to high standards of scholarship and let the board choose?

  4. Oh well. I guess we just have to wait until businesses decide to move out of Texas because its just too stupid and crazy. Then things will change.

  5. The fact that this dialogue even exists is why Texas education is in the bottom 45 in the nation. Ignorance begets ignorance – The board members cannot be too concerned with capitalism if they are passing amendments, which remove inclusive curriculum thereby making our students less competitive with the rest of the nation, and the world for that matter. – But then again, it is this same line of thinking, from the Supreme Court down, that has already handed our nation’s economy away.

  6. Amie:

    TFN may be talented, but no one could make this up. Ben and I write and edited for a living. Ben, could you make this up? If so, you’re a smarter man than me.

  7. What does having their own movie have to do with whether a historical figure is relevant?

    What movie did the Tianamen Square students star in again?

  8. What should we expect except for this. We have the Fox propaganda channel convincing adults that their world has been ruined by the socialists (called Democrats). The next step is to convince the kids that only rich, white, English-speaking, American born, wealthy, bible thumping, able-bodied people should have any say in policies and politics.

  9. OMG! I had to re-read this a couple of times – thinking, “This has to be an Onion production…”

    But alas – and sadly – no. Instead of an natural evolution of gained knowledge and fact (When i was in school, only man made tools…) this is a perfect example why et’s are quick to pass us over.

    I would.

  10. Seriously, if they think Sweden and Finland are socialist, in the same sense as the USSR, the educational system has clearly already failed at teaching what socialism is and which variants exist. This is really scary. Confusing communism and socialism, and the “socialism” that people like to criticize in the US with the “socialism” that France and many European countries have is pathetic. There are no other words.

  11. Wow, good to know we have racist people editing our text books. Our chinese overlords will be so happy to see them embrace communism so easily. I hope Ms Hardy doesn’t beleive we are all as ignorant as she is, but it seems she would like to make our children that way. Amen Preeem