Far-Right Groups Poison Overhaul with Culture War Objections, Demands to Sanitize History and Reject Inclusive Standards
AUSTIN, Texas – An array of far-right groups today helped derail months of work on the first major overhaul of Texas social studies standards in a dozen years with a misleading and poisonous culture war campaign.
After the State Board of Education voted to delay the overhaul for at least three years, Texas Freedom Network Senior Political Director Carisa Lopez warned that the ability of Texas schools to teach the truth is once again under political attack.
“The same politicians and far-right groups behind laws passed last year to censor Texas classrooms doubled down on their campaign to force public schools to teach a sanitized and distorted version of history,” Lopez said. “Texas is becoming a case study in how a torrent of falsehoods and misinformation can overwhelm the truth and poison rational debate over public education policies. It’s appalling to see teachers and scholars portrayed as anti-American and anti-Christian because they want schools to teach the entire truth and acknowledge the diversity of our nation and the students in our classrooms. Texas parents have reason to worry that their children are the ones who will pay the price when political extremists hijack their education.”
Teachers and scholars working under the direction of the state board had spent much of the past year drafting new standards that are more inclusive of the experiences and contributions of diverse ethnic and racial communities that have shaped our history. The draft standards also addressed the historical significance of efforts to end discrimination against LGBTQIA+ Americans in recent decades.
In addition, while the drafts provided extensive coverage of the history and influence of Christianity, they did not include the claim that Moses from the Bible was a major influence on the American Constitution. Social conservatives on the state board inserted that claim into the standards in 2010 over the objections of educators and scholars.
Far-right groups who testified today or sent out a blizzard of communications attacking the social studies drafts include, but are not limited to:
Moms for Liberty
Moms for America
Texas Freedom Caucus
Texas Pastor Council
Texas Eagle Forum
Many of the far-right complaints focused on objections to providing a fuller history of slavery and racial discrimination, as well as the references to LGBTQIA+ Americans. Many social conservatives also objected to the absence of Moses from the drafts. And they complained that the drafts spent too much time addressing non-Christian religions. One group’s letter quoted the Bible in a way seemingly suggesting violence against the drafters would be justified.
The board agreed to make minor revisions to meet statutory requirements this year but also study how to proceed with a new attempt at a major overhaul by 2025.
The Texas Freedom Network (tfn.org) is an organization of community and religious leaders and young Texans who support equality, social justice and public education.