When the State Board of Education debated new social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools in 2009-10, tea partyers and other far-right activists complained about what they saw as an overemphasis on slavery in classes about U.S. history. They argued that attention paid to the history of slavery in America is too negative and that students should learn more about how Americans overcame that dark period of our nation’s history. (One activist even complained more broadly about an “overrepresentation of minorities” in social studies standards.)

But the truth is too many of those far-right activists are either ignorant about the history of slavery or would prefer to rewrite and whitewash that history. Just see what Jim DeMint, head of the far-right Heritage Foundation, said on a conservative religious radio program this month during a discussion about how the institution of slavery came to an end in the United States (emphasis added):

“Well the reason that the slaves were eventually freed was the Constitution, it was like the conscience of the American people. Unfortunately there were some court decisions like Dred Scott and others that defined some people as property, but the Constitution kept calling us… Read More

Four American presidents are coming to Austin this week for the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library on the University of Texas campus. The event, which lasts from Tuesday to Thursday, celebrates the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This anniversary year is, as educators say, a teachable moment. Students will have an opportunity to learn more about how African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, women and others have worked long and hard to win the same rights and privileges as white men in this country. This might also be a teachable moment for the Texas State Board of Education, which this year will consider the adoption of proposed new social studies textbooks for public schools.

The struggles for civil and equal rights in America were a big part of the debate over new curriculum standards for social studies classes in 2009-10. That debate exposed the incredible ignorance among some board members about how those movements succeeded. So let’s look back at what one board member at the time, Don McLeroy, wanted students to learn about civil rights:

Here’s what we had to say at the time:

So the… Read More

Another sign that the social studies textbook adoption in Texas this year is going to be messy: A political activist who helped write new curriculum standards for the state’s public schools in 2009 is insisting that new textbooks under consideration this year should promote his revisionist views on issues such as slavery and the Civil War, the civil rights movement and church-state separation.

North Texas activist Bill Ames insisted in 2009 that the state’s previous social studies curriculum standards included an “overrepresentation of minorities” and had a leftist bias. He then served throughout the rest of the year on a state panel charged with drafting new curriculum standards for the high school U.S. history course. Don McLeroy, R-College Station, a State Board of Education (SBOE) member at the time, had insisted that the Texas Education Agency place Ames on the curriculum panel.

Although fellow curriculum panel members appear to have rejected many of Ames’ demands as they drafted the new standards, Ames was pleased when SBOE members heavily revised the draft document. He now praises the state’s social studies standards, but even the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute has called the state’s U.S. history standards a

Publishers will submit textbooks in April for all socials studies and history courses from Kindergarten to Grade 12.

Grades K-5 Social Studies

Middle School Courses

World Cultures and Geography Texas History U.S. History to 1877

High School Courses

World Geography World History Sociology U.S. History since 1877 U.S. Government Economics Psychology

We want to remind you of a fast-approaching deadline.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has begun the process of appointing individuals to review new social studies textbooks the State Board of Education (SBOE) will adopt in 2014.

The deadline to sign up is January 24.

It’s critical that truly qualified individuals serve on the review teams and counter far-right efforts to… Read More

With the science textbook adoption mostly behind them, State Board of Education (SBOE) members are turning their attention to next year’s adoption of new social studies textbooks for Texas public schools. And we’re already seeing right-wing activists preparing to turn that adoption into another “culture war” battleground.

Circulating among tea party and other right-wing activists in the state, for example, is an email from a group called “Truth in Texas Textbooks” that asks recipients to volunteer to review the new textbooks. One activist forwarding the email explains that the group is “organizing conservatives to participate” in “reviewing Texas Social Studies textbooks for errors/bias.”

Of course, no one wants errors and bias in textbooks. And all Texans have the right to examine the new textbooks and offer their opinions about the content. But what kind of opinions can we expect from “Truth in Texas Textbooks”?

The groups’s email is signed by a retired Air Force Lt. Col. Roy White in Boerne near San Antonio. White was scheduled to speak on Nov. 14 to the Boerne Tea Party Patriots about the “Muslim Brotherhood’s influence in America.” According to the event announcement the Boerne Tea Party Patriots’ website:

“Currently, the Brotherhood… Read More