In January and March, the State Board of Education (SBOE) reviewed a set of social studies standards submitted by curriculum teams which had been working for almost a year. Rather than adhere to the recommendations of these teams of experts — composed of teachers, scholars, and curriculum writers — the SBOE voted to drastically alter the draft standards to exclude certain historical events and individuals. I am disappointed that members of the board co-opted the process for their own ideological gain and did not consider the best interests of our students.
A fair and truthful representation of our history in Texas textbooks is a reasonable expectation. Individuals and/or groups should not be excluded simply because their accomplishments, actions, and/or reputation conflicts with a board member’s misguided interpretation of history. Our responsibility is to our children and to historical accuracy.
The SBOE has one more chance to do the right thing before these changes are enacted and allowed to prevail for the next decade. Adopting the new standards is scheduled for May 19. You can attend the meeting in Austin and participate via public testimony. You can also take time now to write the SBOE and voice your concerns.
To learn more about the SBOE and the 15 elected board positions, visit the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website, www.tea.state.tx.us, which also contains information on the social studies curriculum standards.
My colleague, Rep. Donna Howard, authored HB 420, which I supported, that would ensure nonpartisan elections of members to the SBOE. Unfortunately, the bill did not make it out of committee. Your comments to me prior to and during the last session underscored your support of this effort. I am committed to once again working on this issue in the next session. I welcome your comments about the SBOE or any other matter.
I am reminded of a quote from Thomas Jefferson who said, “History, by appraising … [the students] of the past, will enable them to judge of the future.” Our generation shapes the next with historical measures such as curriculum choices. May we prove to be reasoned and rationale as we make this and other long-term investments in the lives of our children and our future.