xakara: (Weeping Angel)

Texas OKs School Textbook Changes

by April Castro Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas State Board of Education adopted a social studies and history curriculum Friday that amends or waters down the teaching of the civil rights movement, slavery, America's relationship with the U.N. and hundreds of other items.

The ideological debate over the guidelines, which drew intense scrutiny beyond Texas, will be used to teach some 4.8 million Texas students for the next 10 years.

The standards also will be used by textbook publishers who often develop materials for other states based on those approved in Texas, although teachers in the Lone Star state have latitude in deciding which material to teach.

The board took separate votes on standards for high schools and kindergarten through eighth grades. The final vote was 9-5 on each set of standards.

The debate has brought intense attention, including testimony from educators, civil rights leaders and a former U.S. education secretary.

The ideological dispute contributed to the defeat of one of the board's most outspoken conservatives, Chairman Don McLeroy, in the March state Republican primary.

In final edits leading up to the vote, conservatives rejected language to modernize the classification of historic periods to B.C.E. and C.E. from the traditional B.C. and A.D. They also required that public school students in Texas evaluate efforts by global organizations such as the United Nations to undermine U.S. sovereignty.

McLeroy offered the amendment on U.S. sovereignty, saying international organizations threatened individual liberty and freedom.

'Constitutional republic'
During the monthslong process of creating the guidelines, conservatives successfully strengthened the requirements on teaching the Judeo-Christian influences of America's Founding Fathers and attempted to water down rationale for the separation of church and state.

The standards will refer to the U.S. government as a "constitutional republic," rather than "democratic," and students will be required to study the decline in the value of the U.S. dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard.

Conservatives say the Texas history curriculum has been unfairly skewed to the left after years of Democrats controlling the board.

Educators have blasted the proposed curriculum for politicizing education. Teachers also have said the document is too long and will force students to memorize lists of names rather than thinking critically.

Members of the board also briefly fought over the meaning of the president's middle name, Hussein. Democrats and a moderate Republican accused conservatives of trying to stir up a needless controversy by proposing to refer to the president with his full name, President Barack Hussein Obama, saying the middle name was loaded with negative connotation. The effort was eventually dropped.

Obama's name caused him some trouble during the 2008 presidential campaign as some critics tried to use it to cast doubt on his American origin and faith.



Full Article and Related News


xakara: (Default)
(This at the same time that education standards for the entire country are being set, agreed upon by every state save Alaska--and you guessed it--Texas)


AOL News
by
David Knowles

(March 12) -- Widely regarded as one of the most important of all the founding fathers of the United States, Thomas Jefferson received a demotion of sorts Friday thanks to the Texas Board of Education.

The board voted to enact new teaching standards for history and social studies that will alter which material gets included in school textbooks. It decided to drop Jefferson from a world history section devoted to great political thinkers.

According to
Texas Freedom Network, a group that opposes many of the changes put in place by the Board of Education, the original curriculum asked students to "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."

That emphasis did not sit well with board member Cynthia Dunbar, who, during Friday's meeting, explained the rationale for changing it. "The Enlightenment was not the only philosophy on which these revolutions were based," Dunbar said.

The new standard, passed at the meeting in a 10-5 vote, now reads, "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."

By dropping mention of revolution, and substituting figures such as Aquinas and Calvin for Jefferson, Texas Freedom Network argues, the board had chosen to embrace religious teachings over those of Jefferson, the man who coined the phrase "separation between church and state."

According to
USA Today, the board also voted to strike the word "democratic" from references to the U.S. form of government, replacing it with the term "constitutional republic." Texas textbooks will contain references to "laws of nature and nature's God" in passages that discuss major political ideas.

The board decided to use the words "free enterprise" when describing the U.S. economic system rather than words such as "capitalism," "capitalist" and "free market," which it deemed to have a negative connotation.

Serving 4.7 million students, Texas accounts for a large percentage of the textbook market, and the new standards may influence what is taught in the rest of the country.


(For a list of other things removed, (like reference to freedom of religion),
The Texas Freedom Network blog of the entire event, or just the highlights from Think Progress. )

What The Hell Is Wrong With Texas Ramble ~ Done

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