AUSTIN, Texas – The State Board of Education held a special meeting yesterday to revise current social studies standards to include requirements called for by the law passed under SB3 during the last legislative session.
The State Board of Education had the opportunity to vote on amendments that would help improve the standards, but instead, the Board doubled down on failure, bowing to political pressure against even updating social studies standards first adopted a dozen years ago, Texas Freedom Network Political Director Carisa Lopez said
“The refusal to update 12-year-old standards by teaching students about topics like climate change and heroes like Dolores Huerta is a new low for this board,” Lopez said. “There was nothing in the law or in board rules that required the board to censor students’ education today. This was just a pitiful surrender by board Republicans to political extremists who demanded a veto over what public schools can teach millions of students every year.”
A board majority earlier this month voted to junk months of work by teachers and scholars who drafted new social studies standards that more fully addressed the experiences and contributions of the diverse communities that make up Texas. Far-right groups had criticized the more inclusive drafts as a violation of legislation, Senate Bill 3, that Republican lawmakers said would ban “critical race theory” – a legal and academic concept not taught in public schools.
At the same meeting, the board instructed Texas Education Agency staff to revise current standards, first adopted in 2010, by including various requirements in SB 3. Then board Republicans yesterday narrowly interpreted SB 3 in a way that allowed them to reject amendments Democrats offered to the new, TEA-produced drafts.
“Barack Obama was in his first term as president when the board last overhauled these standards,” Lopez said. “But board Republicans fear the demands of far-right groups more than they want to bring the standards up to date and make them more reflective of the diversity of this state. So they want to keep essentially the same standards in place for at least another three years, perhaps longer, simply because they can’t take the political heat from those who want to censor the education of Texas kids.”
The board will have a second opportunity to amend the standards before a final vote on adoption of the revised drafts in November.
The Texas Freedom Network (tfn.org) is a grassroots organization of religious and community leaders and young Texans building an informed and effective movement for equality and social justice.