Native Village  Youth and Education news
February 2010 Volume 2

History Textbook Controversy Roils Texas
by David Knowles
Condensed by Native Village

Texas: "History is written by the victors," Winston Churchill once said.  Texas may be taking that message to heart.

The Texas State Board of Education is debating changes to the way the state will teach history.  The Board's 10 Republicans and 5 Democrats believe Texas' classrooms may have a liberal bias. As a result, the board is deciding whether people like Caesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall deserve space in history textbooks along with people like Benjamin Franklin.

Also at issue is whether Christianity deserves more classroom time, and if Abraham Lincoln deserves less.

The Board has already voted for some changes. State standards will mandate that lessons include teachings about conservative growth in the 1980s and 1990s. This includes anti-feminism, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.

"These [state] standards are rife with leftist political periods and events: the populists, the progressives, the New Deal and the Great Society," wrote board member Don McLeroy. "Including material about the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s provides some political balance to the document."

Teachings about Sen. Joseph McCarthy will also be changed. In the 1950s, McCarthy used C
ongress to investigate alleged communist behavior. Today, many people have renounced McCarthy's tactics and efforts. Texas plans to present him in a more favorable light.

The board is meeting some opposition. "When partisan politicians take a wrecking ball to the work of teachers and scholars, you get a document that looks more like a party platform than a social studies curriculum," said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network.

The final vote on the new standards will be held in May. It isn't clear which grades would be affected.

There are 4,000,000 students in Texas public schools, making it the second-largest textbook market in the country. As a result, changes to the Texas curriculum are likely to impact other states as well.

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