The debate over new social studies curriculum standards will shift into higher gear when the Texas State Board of Education meets this week. TFN Insider will provide updates about the action here.
On Thursday the board will hear from so-called “experts” it has appointed to a special panel helping guide the revision of the social studies standards. Representatives of curriculum writing teams will also speak to the board about their work and their first drafts of the standards, which they completed at the end of July.
The Thursday meeting is set to begin at 9 a.m., and social studies is the third item on the agenda. Beginning this week, all state board meetings will be streamed live over the Internet. You can find a link to the Webcast here. The agenda for the full three days (Wednesday through Friday) of committee and full-board meetings is here.
What to look for on Thursday:
The board is likely to hear from at least four of its so-called “experts”: David Barton, former vice chair of the Texas Republican Party and head of the Christian-right organization WallBuilders; Peter Marshal, a far-right evangelical minister from Massachusetts; Prof. Jesus Francisco de la Teja from Texas State University; and Prof. Jim Kracht from Texas A&M. You can learn more about these panelists here.
The contrast in their presentations should be interesting.
Although both are absurdly unqualified to serve as social studies “experts,” Barton and Marshall have been clear about the political agenda they are pushing in the debate over the new standards. Both oppose separation of church and state and want students to learn that the Founders intended to create an explicitly Christian nation based on conservative Christian biblical principles. Both have also criticized “multiculturalism” in the standards, and they have suggested the removal from the standards of important labor and civil rights leaders like Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall.
De la Teja and Kracht, on the other hand, are respected, mainstream academics from two of the state’s largest public universities. Their reviews of the current and the proposed new standards have focused largely on academic issues and their areas of expertise.
The first drafts of the proposed new social studies curriculum standards are here. Reviews of those drafts by the social studies “experts” are available here.
Curriculum writing teams will use feedback from this week’s meeting to revise their first drafts of the proposed new standards. The board will discuss those revisions in November and is set to hold its first full public hearing on the proposed standards in January. A final vote on the standards is expected in March. Publishers will then use those standards to write new textbooks for Texas classrooms.