Patriotic math? Far-right Texas SBOE sets its 2024 priorities

In a troubling first State Board of Education (SBOE) meeting of 2024, the new far-right chair yanked consideration of a new American Indian/Native Studies course from the board’s meeting agenda. Instead, the MAGA-dominated board addressed a different priority: patriotic math! 🇺🇲

Here’s your rundown of the Jan. 30-Feb. 2 meeting.

American Indian/Native Studies Course on Hold

For a year, the SBOE was working to add an elective American Indian/Native Studies studies course to the curriculum. Mexican American and African American ethnic studies classes are already part of the Texas curriculum. After Abbott’s newly appointed board chair Aaron Kinsey, R-Midland, unexpectedly withdrew the issue from the meeting agenda, advocates eloquently called on the board to take up the course again as soon as possible. Chair Kinsey’s concerns about the course remain unclear.

Patriotic Math?!?

SBOE members moved ahead with adopting new rules to address its greatly expanded authority over textbook content granted with the passage of HB 1605 last year. Among those rules is the establishment of highly subjective standards to help determine whether publishers’ proposed textbooks are “suitable” for students.

After a bizarre debate sparked by demands from MAGA board member Julie Pickren, R-Pearland, the board adopted a convoluted suitability review process that could have state reviewers flagging math and language arts textbooks for how patriotic they are, among other things.

More Textbook Censorship Coming at the SBOE

So how’s this going to work? Are political censors going to check whether math word problems teach kids to love America? Will they check whether authors of reading selections in language arts textbooks are the “right” kind of Americans? And who will decide? Politicians armed with agendas and conspiracy theories, that’s who.

We’ve been down this road before with the SBOE. Setting subjective standards like this is an invitation to fringe board members and extremists to turn textbook adoptions into even bigger political circuses than they already are. If the first meeting of 2024 is any indication, it’s clear that too many board members are already more interested in playing politics than educating kids.

We Need Your Help

Teach the Truth: Texans United Against Censorship in Education

Quality public education that teaches students the truth – including about the experiences and contributions of the diverse peoples and communities in our history – is critical for a healthy democratic society. Since its founding in 1995, TFN has been the state’s leading watchdog pushing back against far-right extremism on the SBOE. We will keep you informed about ways you can take action to oppose efforts to censor and politicize the education of Texas students. For now, please support this important work by donating to our Teach the Truth campaign today.

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