3:10 - The state board is resuming its debate on the standards and is taking up the psychology standards. It's unclear how controversial this course might be.

3:19 - Not controversial, apparently. No amendments for psychology, so on to sociology. Cynthia Dunbar Barbara Cargill moves to add Robert Nisbet to a list of sociologists students should study. Nisbet, she says, was a political conservative. Oh, well, then. The amendment passes. Apparently, pushing a political agenda extends into the sociology standards as well. It's hard to take this board seriously at all.

3:27 - Cargill moves to strip out a sociology standard that calls on students to "explain how institutional racism is evident in American society." She argues that this is a "negative standard" that should be removed. It's "negative" to have students study the effects of institutional discrimination in laws, schools and private institutions? Well, the sociological effects of institutional racism are real. Mavis Knight of Dallas calls this amendment a "whitewash" of history. She's right. Cargill's amendments fails. Well, there's at least one glimmer of light in this disastrous debate. Read More

12:55 – The board just voted for an amendment by Cynthia Dunbar that students learn that “the laws of nature and nature’s God” be included in a list of political ideas in history that influenced the writing of the Constitution and other founding documents.

1:02 – Now Dunbar moves to replace “democratic republic” to “constitutional republic” in referring to U.S. government throughout all of the social studies standards.

1:30 – The board has recessed for lunch until 2:30.… Read More

Today the Texas State Board of Education voted to reject an amendment to social studies curriculum standards that would require students to learn that the nation’s Founders “protected religious freedom by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others.” The party-line vote — 10 Republicans against and 5 Democrats in favor of the amendment — strips away any pretense that this board respects one of the most important freedoms enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Here is the exchange that just occurred on the board:

12:28 – Board member Mavis Knight offers the following amendment: “examine the reasons the Founding Fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others.” Knight points out that students should understand that the Founders believed religious freedom was so important that they insisted on separation of church and state.

12:32 – Board member Cynthia Dunbar argues that the Founders didn’t intend for separation of church and state in America. And she’s off on a long lecture about why the Founders intended to promote religion. She calls this amendment “not historically accurate.”

12:35 – Knight’s amendment fails on a straight party-line vote, 5-10.… Read More

9:20 - The State Board of Education will resume debate and amending proposed new social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools this morning. Board members are getting a short lesson on parliamentary procedure right now. 9:27 - The board is taking up remaining amendments on the high school world history course. 9:30 - Board member Cynthia Dunbar wants to change a standard having students study the impact of Enlightenment ideas on political revolutions from 1750 to the present. She wants to drop the reference to Enlightenment ideas (replacing with "the writings of") and to Thomas Jefferson. She adds Thomas Aquinas and others. Jefferson's ideas, she argues, were based on other political philosophers listed in the standards. We don't buy her argument at all. Board member Bob Craig of Lubbock points out that the curriculum writers clearly wanted to students to study Enlightenment ideas and Jefferson. Could Dunbar's problem be that Jefferson was a Deist? The board approves the amendment, taking Thomas Jefferson OUT of the world history standards. 9:40 - We're just picking ourselves up off the floor. The board's far-right faction has spent months now proclaiming the importance of emphasizing America's exceptionalism in social studies classrooms. But today they voted to remove one of the greatest of America's Founders, Thomas Jefferson, from a standard about the influence of great political philosophers on political revolutions from 1750 to today. 9:45 - Here's the amendment Dunbar changed: "explain the impact of Enlightenment ideas from John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Thomas Jefferson on political revolutions from 1750 to the present." Here's Dunbar's replacement standard, which passed: "explain the impact of the writings of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau,  Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and Sir William Blackstone." Not only does Dunbar's amendment completely change the thrust of the standard. It also appalling drops one of the most influential political philosophers in American history -- Thomas Jefferson. Read More

6:07 - The board will pick up where it left off in January -- with high school social studies courses. Chairwoman Gail Lowe explains that the board wants to finish the high school courses this evening and then consider new amendments to other courses discussed in January. 6:11 - The board is beginning with the high school world history course. The board is considering whether references to dates use the shorthand BC and AD instead of BCE and CE. Some board members suggest BC and AD are more traditional. Yes, but that's not what students will encounter (for the most part) when they get to college. Board member Mavis Knight urges the board to ensure that students know historians use both dating methods. But board member Terri Leo says she wants the traditional dating approach: "I disagree with the whole philosophy of why we date." 6:19 - Leo wants a recorded vote on whether students should learn dates with BC and AD or BCE and CE. Good grief. This is only the first amendment -- there's a long night ahead. 6:25 - BC and AD win, with Lowe voting in favor. Apparently, Lowe has decided to drop her policy -- to which she adhered in January -- not to vote as board chair. That will strengthen the far-right faction's hand throughout this debate. Read More

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