Hundreds of supporters of public education rallied this afternoon in front of the Texas Education Agency, calling for social studies curriculum standards based on sound scholarship, not political agendas. Inside the TEA building, members of the State Board of Education heard testimony on proposed social studies standards that educators, scholars and others call bloated and heavily politicized. We just sent out the following press release:
Lawmakers, scholars and civil rights leaders at a public rally today called on the Texas State Board of Education to send bloated and heavily politicized new social studies curriculum standards back to teachers and scholars for review before final adoption.
“I am deeply concerned that some board members are substituting their knowledge of history above the expertise of historians, their understanding of economics above economists, and their lack of experience of teaching above teachers,” said state Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, chairman of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus. “So now these curriculum standards are too long, too political and too focused on the pet causes of a few to the detriment of all students. Enough is enough. Texas parents need a state board that keeps politics out of the classrooms and just educates our children.”
Turner and state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, joined scholars, civil rights leaders, parents and others at the “Don’t White-Out Our History” rally at the Texas Education Agency. The rally outside the TEA building occurred as the state board heard public testimony about the controversial new social studies standards inside.
The board should have had more respect for nearly a year’s worth of work by expert curriculum teams made up of classroom teachers and scholars who drafted new standards for public school classrooms, Martinez Fischer said.
“The state board’s important work has become too political and is undermining the education or our children,” Martinez Fischer said. “Changes to the public school curriculum should be based on academic scholarship, not the opinions of a few politicians who happen to sit on the state board.”
Board members have opposed teaching students that the Constitution protects separation of church and state, downplayed the struggle of women and minorities for equal rights and often chose which historical figures to teach in social studies classes based on little more than their own personal and political beliefs about those individuals, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said.
“Parents want the real experts – classroom teachers and scholars – guiding what our children learn in public school classrooms, not politicians on the state board,” Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said. “This board should focus on educating students, not promoting personal agendas and pet causes that handicap the ability of our kids to succeed in college and the workforce.”
The board has scheduled a final vote on the social studies standards for Friday. Because of the size of the Texas market, publishers often write their textbooks to meet Texas standards and then sell those books to schools in other states as well. Last year creationists on the state board moved to weaken instruction on evolution in new science curriculum standards.