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Texas board adopts new social studies curriculum

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

The new standards were adopted after a final showdown by two 9-5 votes along party lines, after Democrats' and moderate Republicans' efforts to delay a final vote failed.

In one of the most significant curriculum changes, the board dilutes the rationale for the separation of church and state in a high school government class, noting that the words were not in the Constitution and requiring students to compare and contrast the judicial language with the First Amendment's wording.

The ideological debate over the guidelines, which drew intense scrutiny beyond Texas, will be used to determine what important political events and figures some 4.8 million students will learn about for the next decade.

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

The board attempted to make more than 200 amendments this week alone, reshaping draft standards that had been prepared over the last year and a half by expert groups of teachers and professors.

As new amendments were being presented just moments before the vote, Democrats bristled that the changes had not been vetted.

"I think we're doing an injustice to the children of this state by piecemealing together, cutting and pasting, coming up with new amendments as late as today," said Mary Helen Berlanga, a Democrat. "What we have done today and what we did yesterday is something that a classroom teacher would not even have accepted."

During the monthslong revision process, conservatives strengthened requirements on teaching the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers and required that the U.S. government be referred to as a "constitutional republic," rather than "democratic." Students will be required to study the decline in the value of the U.S. dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard.

They also rejected language to modernize the classification of historic periods to B.C.E. and C.E. from the traditional B.C. and A.D., and agreed to replace Thomas Jefferson as an example of an influential political philosopher in a world history class. They also required students to evaluate efforts by global organizations such as the United Nations to undermine U.S. sovereignty.

Former board chairman Don McLeroy, one of the board's most outspoken conservatives, said the Texas history curriculum has been unfairly skewed to the left after years of Democrats controlling the board and he just wants to bring it back into balance.

"I'm proud to have my name on this document," Republican board member Barbara Cargill said shortly before the vote.

Another Republican board member, David Bradley, said the curriculum revision process has always been political — but this time, the ruling faction had changed since the last time social studies standards were adopted.

"We took our licks, we got outvoted," he said referring to the debate from 10 years earlier. "Now it's 10-5 in the other direction ... we're an elected body, this is a political process. Outside that, go find yourself a benevolent dictator."

GOP board member Geraldine Miller was absent during the votes.

Educators have blasted the curriculum proposals 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.

The curriculum dispute contributed to McLeroy's defeat in the March state Republican primary.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said school officials "should keep politics out" of curriculum debates.

"We do a disservice to children when we shield them from the truth, just because some people think it is painful or doesn't fit with their particular views," Duncan said in a statement. "Parents should be very wary of politicians designing curriculum."

After the vote, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas urged the state Legislature to place more control over the board.

"At the end of three long days, the State Board of Education has amended, re-amended and approved curriculum standards that are more ideological than ever, despite pleas to not politicize what is taught to Texas school children," said the state ACLU's executive director, Terri Burke.

At least one lawmaker vowed legislative action to "rein in" the board.

"They have ignored historians and teachers, allowing ideological activists to push the culture war further into our classrooms," said Rep. Mike Villareal, a San Antonio Democrat. "They fail to understand that we don't want liberal textbooks or conservative textbooks. We want excellent textbooks, written by historians instead of activists."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100522/ap_on_re_us/us_texas_schools_social_studies

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My school has a facebook page for history majors, we have been discussing this recently (I'm a History/Education major working to become a Social Studies teacher). I have a conservative bias but this is unbelievable. How can you teach American history and ignore the separation of church and state or down play Jefferson because you don't think he is conservative/religious enough?

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What an idiot state. AZ will probably do the same thing.

Damn RSRs.

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar

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I don't see anything in the above piece to scream about.

History/ SS texts have long been borderline shoddy, IMO.

And yes- they've been far too skewed to the left for a while- some of the American history that gets left 'on the floor' in the name of pacifying global topics is a travesty, IMO.

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Notice how when millions of people have to agree to one curriculum, no one ends up happy? End collectivist education run by "education professionals", unions, and politicians.

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History is about facts and events that can be driven by ideals and beliefs. Are they choosing to simply decide an 'angle' to reveal the past by? Are they choosing what terminology to use to fit some notion of 'balance' of two sides that only exists in the U.S.? This merely ends up a bastardization of history.

What caught my eye was this, "They also required students to evaluate efforts by global organizations such as the United Nations to undermine U.S. sovereignty." <-- maybe only according to a particular political viewpoint?

Wow... just wow. As if the U.S. curriculum wasn't already narrow-focused enough whereby the basics of global history tend to be overlooked and the only thing that matters is what happened in the U.S. Now, it appears that the curriculum will be based on a story as told by grandpa around a camp fire.

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Exactly, history is about facts, what actually happened. Not twisting it to your own agendas and beliefs to force on millions of students who are supposed to be learning about it objectively. Our education system is already terrible, this is more proof of that.

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Exactly, history is about facts, what actually happened. Not twisting it to your own agendas and beliefs to force on millions of students who are supposed to be learning about it objectively. Our education system is already terrible, this is more proof of that.

facts need to come from the best first hand accounts.

the problem with history is how interconnected everything is, this provides a huge problem for text books and truly interested students...the text book would be thousands of pages for the US alone, and some of the ideas would be too tough to be put in chronological order for some politician(s) to decide. texts books can provide a timeline to start with and topics to cover, but they must not be the only book nor a required book for students.

school is no longer about teachers and students, it's about text book companies and administrations choosing what students must learn, mostly from the D.O.Education. obviously not the way children actually learn.

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Just sad...

Sad to find that my ancestor were brought over to the new world in the North Atlantic Triangle Trade instead of the Slave Trade.

If we dont learn from our history we are doom to repeat it

Edited by griff7774

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What is worse is that there is a group (unsure if it is the same group) that is trying to re-write THE BIBLE to rid it of quote-on-quote "liberal bias".

Really? You're going to change Scripture to better suit your political agenda?

Edited by Turbojett

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Rewriting textbooks in order to revise history to suit an agenda? Gee, that sounds an awful lot like something Iran, Syria, North Korea or Saudi Arabia would do. Oh, but they're the bad guys.

What scares me most is that Texas is a huge textbook market, so publishers will likely institute the changes nationwide instead of having two tiers.

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Rewriting textbooks in order to revise history to suit an agenda? Gee, that sounds an awful lot like something Iran, Syria, North Korea or Saudi Arabia would do. Oh, but they're the bad guys.

What scares me most is that Texas is a huge textbook market, so publishers will likely institute the changes nationwide instead of having two tiers.

This is nothing more then fixing a WRONG that was done to the American education system many years ago by early 1900's progressives. They are the ones who changed history because of an AGENDA this is nothing more then fixing THAT injustice!! I say its ABOUT TIME!!!

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I don't see anything in the above piece to scream about.

History/ SS texts have long been borderline shoddy, IMO.

And yes- they've been far too skewed to the left for a while- some of the American history that gets left 'on the floor' in the name of pacifying global topics is a travesty, IMO.

You could not be more correct my friend!!! 8)

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What is worse is that there is a group (unsure if it is the same group) that is trying to re-write THE BIBLE to rid it of quote-on-quote "liberal bias".

Really? You're going to change Scripture to better suit your political agenda?

You are... You know... Joking, right? =/

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This is why I am against home schooling, because when you have really conservative bible thumping parents, those kids stand absolutely no chance of getting a balanced education. They will be indoctrinated with religious BS like the world is flat (Sherri Shepherd from The View still believes this...).

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