Texas Board to Take 1st Vote on History Curriculum

April Castro, Comcast News, January 14, 2010

New history standards that will determine what Texas public school students will be learning for the next decade are coming up for a first vote.

Committees of teachers and experts have crafted the proposal that will be up for consideration by the State Board of Education on Thursday. Dozens of amendments and ideological battles are expected.

Whichever curriculum standards the board chooses will be the guideposts for teaching history and social studies to some 4.8 million K-12 students for 10 years. The standards will be used to develop state tests and also by textbook publishers who develop material for the nation based on Texas, one of the largest markets.

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Early squabbles over how much prominence to give civil rights leaders such as Cesar Chavez and the inclusion of Christmas seem to have been smoothed over in the draft now being considered. But those issues could re-emerge as board members raise amendments for consideration before the vote.

In more than seven hours of public testimony on Wednesday, the board was asked to include more examples of Mexican American leaders. Amendments proposing that Hispanics be included in the fifth-grade social studies lessons, which lack examples of Latinos, are likely.

Another flashpoint is expected over how much emphasis should be given to the religious beliefs of the nation’s founding fathers, after some activists have sought to promote and highlight their Christianity.

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