Another early hint of trouble brewing in the Texas State Board of Education‘s revision of social studies curriculum standards: attacks on minority contributions to American history and society. And once again Chairman Don McLeroy, R-College Station, is right in the middle of the brouhaha.
McLeroy’s appointee to the social studies writing team (the work group made up teachers and others who prepare the first draft of curriculum standards) is a man named Bill Ames. Mr. Ames claims to be serving on the team merely as a citizen and a taxpayer, but elsewhere he has identified himself as a “textbook reviewer” for Phyllis Schlafly’s far-right Texas Eagle Forum. And he certainly sounded like an Eagle Forum mouthpiece at a public meeting of the board’s Committee on Instruction last month. Mr. Ames complained about “multiculturalism” and what he called an “overrepresentation of minorities” in social studies curriculum standards. Responding to a question from SBOE member Lawrence Allen, D-Houston, about what a “fair representation” of multicultural content would be, Mr. Ames responded:
That, sir, my friend, is why I contend that there is an overrepresentation of minority content. And that’s all TEKS driven. The specific TEKS say ‘the problems of women,’ ‘the problems of immigrants,’ ‘the problems of minorities.’ There is nothing in the current TEKS that talks about celebrating America’s positive successes.
State Board of Education – Committee on Instruction (April 22, 2009)
TEA audio archive, approx. 3:28:55
Mr. Allen, who is African American, responded to this nonsense better than we can (and showed remarkable restraint in doing so):
Whenever you sit in a situation like this and you recognize that you come from an ethnic group that had no representation, and that most of the accomplishments by those of your ethnic group were discarded as if they never even occurred… when you begin to infuse some of the information that comes from the ethnic group that you represent, and then it’s titled as “overrepresentation” — that affects me on a personal basis…That’s why I was trying to see what a fair representation would look like.
During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Nominations Committee hearing last month, Chairman McLeroy warned that the social studies curriculum debate had the potential to be even more contentious than previous curriculum debates. Looks like he’s doing his part to make good on that.