12:18 p.m. - Civil rights groups are out in force today, with speakers calling on the Texas State Board of Education to stop undermining the coverage of minorities and the civil rights movement in the standards. 12:32 - State Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, noted the state board debate on his Web site this morning: "I hope the SBOE does the right thing, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they show up on one of the Comedy Central Shows this week." Neither would we, Rep. Villarreal. 12:46 - State troopers have been posted outside the board room. That's unusual. Are board members worried about the civil rights supporters here to speak today? 1:03 - Now someone is criticizing "atheists" and "statists" for corrupting the education of young people. Statists are promoting "class warfare," he charges, and "minority victimization." 2:08 - The board is gathering after a lunch break. Board members will continue hearing public testimony for a while longer this afternoon. Read More

11:20 a.m. - The Texas State Board of Education meeting has just begun. The board will soon begin to hear public testimony on the proposed social studies curriculum standards for public schools. You can follow the action here and on the Texas Education Agency's live Webstream. Meanwhile, here's a photo of a press conference this morning by Students for a Smarter State Board of Education. This coalition of student groups, including the TFN Student Chapter, is calling on the state board to stop promoting political agendas over sound scholarship in the standards. 11:28 a.m. - Another photo (below) from the students' press conference this morning. 11:30 a.m. - The board is wrapping up discussion of preliminary agenda items. The board is scheduled to hear two hours of public testimony before beginning formal debate and amendments of the proposed standards. Read More

A video Web cast of today's Texas State Board of Education hearing is available here. 9:42 - The Texas State Board of Education is resuming its debate and consideration of amendments for social studies curriculum standards. They will focus on high school courses today. 9:44 - It looks like they'll begin with high school U.S. history this morning. The high school course covers 1877 to the present. 9:47 - Don McLeroy wants to students to learn that the destruction of New Orleans a few years ago wasn't caused by Hurricane Katrina but by the failure of the levy system. (In other words, it was government's fault.) 9:54 - We're getting a preview of the proposed amendments for the high school U.S. history course. Lots of nonsense. We'll point that out as we move along. 10:07 - McLeroy wants to change the description of U.S. acquisition of new overseas territories in the late 1800s and early 1900s as "expansionism" instead of "imperialism." The board's far-right faction has bristled at the idea that the United States engaged in a form of imperialism at one time. But the historical record is pretty clear: we obtained a number of overseas territories and held on to them through the wars (such as in the Philippines). Recognizing this fact isn't "anti-American." It's real history. 10:09 - Pat Hardy is angry that McLeroy wants to remove a reference to propaganda as contributing to U.S. entry into World War I and warns: "Guys, you're rewriting history now!" We share Hardy's frustration at the ignorance on display here. It's appalling. 10:10 - McLeroy debates whether Margaret Sanger should be in the standards. Board member Terri Leo worries that students might learn she had a positive impact on American society. Really. The board votes to exclude Sanger. Read More

8:45 - We're back for the rest of this long evening... 8:56 - Barbara Cargill wants a standard in the Grade 6 world cultures class that requires students to learn about the "importance of morality and ethics" for a well-functioning capitalistic economy. The motion passes. 9:01 - The board continues its tedious plodding through the standards, and board members have yet to get to the courses in which we're likely to see the most controversy -- middle and high school history and government. 9:09 - This is just ignorant. Terri Leo wants to change a standard about holidays in major world religions (in a world cultures class for Grade 6) so that the holidays noted are mostly Christian and Jewish (and one Islamic) without any mentions of holidays from Hinduism and other holidays. One more time: this is a WORLD CULTURES class. Does this board realize how many people around the world are Hindus? Do they realize there are religions other than Christianity and Jewish? Of course they do. But some board members simply don't care. Leo's proposal goes down in flames, as it should. (Pat Hardy, who voted no, offers a clearly heard "Halleluja"! 9:20 - Ken Mercer is offering amendments designed to persuade students that government regulation and taxation are bad for the economy. And his suggestions are passing. 9:22 - Mercer wants students to learn reasons for limiting the power of government The board is venturing more and more into ideological dogma, not education. 9:49 - Now the board is debating whether cotton production is a form of farming and whether cotton should have its own mention in the standards for the Texas history class. Sigh. Read More

3:27 - The Texas State Board of Education is beginning its discussion and debate on new social studies curriculum standards. 3:47 - Oh, this is gonna be a lonnnggg afternoon... 3:53 - Board member Barbara Cargill has offered a variety of relatively minor amendments. 3:54 - To save our fingers, we'll probably avoid recapping each amendment offered by board members unless it appears particularly significant or we're bored. Or both. 3:55 - Board member Terri Leo wants kindergartners to learn how Christopher Columbus and John Smith helped shape Texas and America. The current standard lists just Stephen F. Austin and George Washington. 4:03 - Board member Mary Helen Berlanga wants students to learn about Jose Antonio Navarro. We expect this will be the first of a number of additions of Hispanic names to the standards at Ms. Berlanga's request. The motion passes. 4:06 - Barbara Cargill wants first-graders to learn about Richard Allen, an African-American minister who lived from 1760 to 1831. The motion passes. 4:09 - Cargill wants to change a definition of good citizenship for first-graders that includes "responsibility for the common good" to say "responsibility in their daily lives." Seems odd. What's wrong with the common good? She also wants the definition to include "holding public officials to their word." The latter suggestion is bringing debate, with some board members worried things are getting far to specific. One board member: How is a first-grader going to hold a candidate to his or her word? (None of the folks making objections to Cargill's motion object to holding public officials to their word. They do seem to be concerned that board members are going to burden the standards with scores of small, specific changes.) 4:17 - We're sorry. But is this the level of detail we really need in curriculum standards? Does anyone think public officials shouldn't be held to their word? But is it necessary to add to first-grade standards? Really? We don't object to the addition. But this is another example of board members who are so mired in minutiae they they lose focus on the big picture. If this is the level of debate we can expect this evening, then someone needs to roll in cots for rest periods. 4:26 - By the way, Cynthia Dunbar is missing again today. Very odd that the super-patriot is missing from a debate over social studies curriculum standards. Read More

Americans United

Dan Quinn of @TFN shares how religion can be discussed objectively during classroom instruction, but students in public schools shouldn’t fear they will be preached to #CC20 #CreatingChange pic.twitter.com/vbmP…