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Dallas Morning News's Idea for Reversing Texas Textbook Revisions Dallas Morning News's Idea for Reversing Texas Textbook Revisions

Dallas Morning News's Idea for Reversing Texas Textbook Revisions

by Nikhil Swaminathan

May 28, 2010

The editorial board at The Dallas Morning News decided not to stand by while the state's history curriculum was altered to reflect a heavily politicized account of America's past—revisions engineered by a faction of Christian conservatives on Texas's State Board of Education. Even though, the board voted last Friday to approve the changes, which include ignoring separation of church and state and softening McCarthyism, they don't have to take hold, says an editorial in the Morning News.

The key to the plan is that many of the most divisive conservatives on the board were voted out of office during elections this spring:
The board that comes into office in January, which should have two to three more moderate members, could revise them, if the new board moves fast.

Textbook publishers won't like the delay. And the Texas Education Agency would have to do some hurried adjusting of state achievement exams, which also are based on these standards. That's unfortunate, but keep your eye on the bigger picture.

That's why we strongly urge the six or so moderates on the current board, plus the likely moderates joining them in January, to start thinking now about rewriting the mind-warping sections once the new board takes office. By then, they should form a majority and could bring more balance to these standards.
Kathy Miller, president of the public education advocacy group the Texas Freedom Network, doesn't think the SBOE should have any say in the matter. In an op-ed in the Morning News this week, she cites poll numbers saying that more than 70 percent of likely Texas voters want actual educators designing standards and not bureaucrats on the SBOE.

She writes:
Teams made up of teachers and scholars labored throughout much of last year to draft new standards. Then politicians on the state board sent the experts home. Over the course of three meetings this year, the board made detailed, ill-considered and blatantly political changes throughout the drafts. Educators could only watch in despair. ...

Individual board members claim they vetted their revisions with experts before the meetings. But other board members were forced to cast votes on changes they had never seen without the opportunity to consult any experts themselves. As a result, many decisions were based on what members could learn from Google and Wikipedia searches at their desks. Many others were based simply on board members' own limited personal knowledge and their personal and political biases.
I'm happy for the next generation of young Texans that the ideologies of a faction of the board's members won't necessarily skew their learning of American history. Miller, however, has a point. The Texas system is broken and needs to be put back in the hands of actual educators.

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