SBOE Postpones Further Demolition of Standards

The debate over the social studies curriculum standards ran so long that the State Board of Education has voted to postpone further debate on the standards until its March meeting. That means the final adoption of the standards will be pushed to May. We will keep you informed on developments. In the meantime, the Texas Freedom Network just sent out the following press release:

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller pointed at the blatant politicization of social studies curriculum standards today as yet more evidence that the Legislature must act to protect the education of Texas schoolchildren.

“When partisan politicians take a wrecking ball to the work of teachers and scholars, you get a document that looks more like a party platform than a social studies curriculum,” Miller said. “The video archive of this week’s meeting would be a great primer for parents and lawmakers on how politics is undermining the education of Texas schoolchildren.”

Texas lawmakers in the last legislative session failed to pass any reforms that would rein in the board’s authority over curriculum and textbooks.

On Thursday and today, the state board moved to gut a year’s worth of work by teachers and scholars who drafted new curriculum standards for Texas public schools. Among the actions the board took this week:

– The board accepted an amendment that suggests McCarthyist smear tactics in the 1950s were justified.

– The board adopted a standard that specifically promotes the views of conservative icons such as Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract with America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association, while deliberately ignoring progressive political figures.

– The board removed a specific requirement that students learn about the efforts of women and ethnic minorities to gain equal rights, replacing it with vague language about “various groups.”

– Board conservatives won approval for a variety of proposals that would promote partisan political positions on the role of government and taxation.

– The board even removed the concepts of justice and the common good from a list of characteristics of good citizenship.

On Thursday and Friday the state board debated and amended draft curriculum standards for Grades K-8 social studies classes and high school U.S. history. Board members voted today to postpone debate on other high school standards until March. That means the board will not be able to take a final vote on adopting new social studies curriculum standards until May.

10 thoughts on “SBOE Postpones Further Demolition of Standards

  1. This postponement is good news, as it gives us an additional two months to mobilize opposition. It also gives the voters in various primaries a chance to weigh in, and I’m sure that all the challengers were watching this meeting carefully for campaign material. If Don McLeroy or Ken Mercer or Brian Russell lose their primaries, it will be a clear signal to the board. If Bob Craig loses his, it will be an equally clear signal in the opposite direction.

    The additional meeting devoted to social studies will also keep the SBOE front-and-center in the public view, increasing the chances that voters in November will do more than just vote by party.

  2. thanks, tfn, for all the hard work you guys do keeping us informed and standing up against the demagogues on the SBOE.

  3. I have a prediction. Call it prophecy if you like. The developing situation in Haiti and the radical right’s response to it will fuse with their perceptions of what is correct and proper on social studies issues. When the rightists lay their cards on the table in the context of this issue, the American people and the whole world will know what right wing social studies and Christian love for one’s neighbor is all about in the heads of these people.

    One of the first things I expect to hear soon is that the United States cannot afford the high cost of disaster relief for the Haitian people—given our current economic conditions here at home. Translation: Black people are worthless and do not deserve anyone’s help because of it.

  4. Charles says:

    One of the first things I expect to hear soon is that the United States cannot afford the high cost of disaster relief for the Haitian people—given our current economic conditions here at home. Translation: Black people are worthless and do not deserve anyone’s help because of it.

    Actually, Rush Limbaugh got there ahead of you. On his show today, he blamed Obama for not talking about the cost of sending US Military into Haiti.

  5. Charles, Rush Limbaugh has already said as much today. (And I don’t know this because I listen to Rush Limbaugh; rather it was covered on MSNBC’s Ed Show). Mr Limbaugh is now haranguing Pres. Obama over the cost of sending U.S. troops to Haiti. He says since Obama made such a fuss over the cost of U.S. troops fighting 2 wars, that it’s odd that Obama is not telling us the cost of sending U.S. troops to Haiti. Of course, if Haiti was a majority white population, I doubt Limbaugh would be making such a big stink.

  6. Thanks y’all. I had heard in passing that there was some sort of controversy involving Limbaugh today, but I had not heard any particulars or what he had said. Dip—-.

  7. Message for Ben:

    Hi Ben. I have been doing some background research on Dr. Rebecca Bell-Metereau and her husband Dr. Jean-Pierre Metereau. Jean-Pierre teaches English at Texas Lutheran University, which is a religious college affiliated quite seriously and religiously with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). That was a surprise. I had to dig deeper from there.

    I then did some research on Texas Lutheran University (TLU) and ELCA. The Department of Biology at TLU is small, as you would expect at a small university. However, all of the faculty members have a Ph.D in a biological field from a major and quite respectable university such as Duke University. They have an-online, catalog-style description of their biology courses. Evolution appears to be taught as conventional evolution. There is no indication at all of the anti-evolution biology courses and screeds you normally see in departments of biology at fundie religious colleges.

    I went to the ELCA website to check out the church associated with TLU because I did not know much about them. In fact, what I thought I knew about the ELCA turned out to be quite wrong. I found no evidence that they adhere to the doctrine of scriptural “inerrancy” that you normally see in fundie churches, and there were no formal statements (explicit or implicit)against evolution that I could find in their official statement of faith. In fact, ELCA was one of the many churches that formally celebrated the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and held sermons, seminars, and talks about Darwin and evolution as part of the celebration. I quickly looked over the titles of some of the talks, and it appeared to be the classic “evolution and scripture are not really in conflict” position that you see from the Catholic Church and our mainline denominations here in the United States. It appeared that they believe evolution is one of God’s many creative mechanisms in our universe. The fundies would probably define what the ELCA believes as a form of “theistic evolution,” which burns their skin much deeper than atheism or agnosticism because it has real Christians telling everyone sitting on the fence that the fundies are all screwed up on God and evolution. In short, from my research, I think TLU, ELCA, Dr. Jean-Pierre Metereau, and by associative derivation Dr. Rebecca Bell-Metereau would pass the Dr. Ken Miller religion-evolution test with flying colors. It is also interesting to note that ELCA is big on women’s rights, including being supportive of women in ministry roles normally held by men in fundie churches. I suspect that a Christian Neo-Fundamentalist student who is also a young-Earth creationist would feel fairly miserable at TLU and in the ELCA.

  8. The Dallas Morning News online edition published this morning a summary of the draft social studies curriculum adopted so far:
    Is this summary accurate? Can you publish the actual draft curriculum?

    This stuff as-drafted is partisan propaganda that should have no place in elementary school education. The nonsense about rehabilitating tailgunner Joe McCarthy, for example, is revisionist propaganda of the worst kind. In middle school and high school, good teachers should guide students to original source material on both sides of these controversial issues and let them engage in some critical thinking. Thanks for TFN’s work on this – keep up the good fight.

    1. The draft curriculum standards debated this week by the State Board of Education are posted here. The amended curriculum drafts have not been posted online — it will take some time for Texas Education Agency staff to prepare them.

  9. The TEA is not preparing drafts now for publication in the Register.

    The TEA is preparing drafts for use by the Board members. One way or another, Texas Citizens for Science will get those and post them on the TCS site.

    The SBOE Committee of the Full Board has not completed deciding its recommendations for consideration by the Board itself, so there has been no vote on a “First Reading” that would be published for public comment.