Yesterday’s debate over social studies curriculum standards at the Texas State Board of Education mostly illuminated political biases of board members more than it did good education policies. Many conservative board members opposed, for example, restoring civil rights and labor leader Dolores Huerta to third-grade standards because they say she’s a socialist and isn’t an inappropriate role model for students. Small-minded pettiness was also on display. For example, far-right board members — barely stifling grins and smirks — insisted that the nation’s president be listed in the standards only by his full name, Barack Hussein Obama. They finally backed off after sharp criticism, even from other Republicans on the board.

And then there was right-wing paranoia about American participation in global organizations like the United Nations and in international treaties:… Read More

A Wall Street Journal piece today on the Texas State Board of Education’s politicization of proposed social studies curriculum standards notes one particularly outrageous change the board’s far-right faction made (which we have already reported about) back in January. Check out the quote from board member Don McLeroy:

Debate about certain provisions has been intense. For instance, one revision would change what first-graders learn about their civic duty.

The previous standards, a decade old, defined good citizenship as “a belief in justice, truth, equality and responsibility for the common good.” The new standards talk about respect for others, personal responsibility, and the importance of voting and of “holding public officials to their word.”

Board member Don McLeroy, who leads the most conservative bloc on the board, said that “responsibility for the common good” does not belong in the standards because it is “a liberal notion” that edges toward communist philosophy.

“Most of the great tragedies in the world have been done in the name of humanitarian, utopian ideals,” he said.

Teaching students that being a good citizen includes the concept of responsibility for the common good is communistic? Really? What great tragedies does McLeroy think could come from… Read More

“Need to Know,” a new PBS current affairs program, aired an insightful piece Friday on the debate over social studies curriculum standards at the Texas State Board of Education. Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller, state board member Don McLeroy and Thomas Ratliff, who defeated McLeroy in the March Republican Primary, all have prominent places in this 12-minute review of how the far right is rewriting history and hijacking the education of Texas schoolchildren. Check it out here.Read More

Texans are getting a clear view of what happens when politicians, instead of teachers and scholars, make the decisions about what our children learn in their public school classrooms. The knee-jerk contempt that some members of the Texas State Board of Education have for true religious freedom, the expansion of rights and for general reform in America has been evident throughout much of the debate over proposed new social studies curriculum standards. That contempt was clear again yesterday in board member Don McLeroy's newly proposed amendments to the standards. As we noted Friday, McLeroy takes aim at constitutional protections for separation of church and state in his new amendments. But he also seems to want students to learn that the Progressive Era was a negative influence on the country. One of his amendments changes a standard that has students "evaluate the impact of muckrakers and reform leaders" on American society in the early 20th century. McLeroy instead wants students to "contrast the tone" of those muckrakers and reformers with the "optimism of immigrants" like "Jean Pierre Godet as told in Thomas Kinkade's The Spirit of America." Here is McLeroy's reasoning: The words of Godet and immigrants…… Read More

State Board of Education member Don McLeroy, R-College Station, is circulating new changes he wants to make to proposed social studies curriuclum standards for Texas public schools. We didn't think next week's state board meeting on the standards could get any worse than what happened in March. But McLeroy's proposed new changes have disabused us of that hopeful thought. We just issued the following press release: New changes a Texas State Board of Education member wants to make to proposed curriculum standards represent a stunning rewrite of American history on issues ranging from religious freedom to civil rights and would politicize public school classrooms, the president of the Texas Freedom Network said today. “Even at the eleventh hour, board members are trying to rewrite history and promote political agendas in our kids’ classrooms,” TFN President Kathy Miller said. “The education of our schoolchildren should be based on the work of academic experts and scholars, not the political biases and fringe ideas of dentists, realtors and other politicians on the state board.”…… Read More