Posted on July 1, 2022

State Education Board Members Push Back on Proposal to Use “Involuntary Relocation” to Describe Slavery

Brian Lopez, Texas Tribune, June 30, 2022

A group of Texas educators have proposed to the Texas State Board of Education that slavery should be taught as “involuntary relocation” during second grade social studies instruction, but board members have asked them to reconsider the phrasing, according to the state board’s chair.

“The board — with unanimous consent — directed the work group to revisit that specific language,” Keven Ellis, chair of the Texas State Board of Education said in a statement issued late Thursday.

The working group of nine educators, including a professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, is one of many such groups advising the state education board to make curriculum changes. This summer, the board will consider updates to social studies instruction a year after lawmakers passed a law to keep topics that make students “feel discomfort” out of Texas classrooms. The board will have a final vote on the curriculum in November.

The suggested change surfaced late during its June 15 meeting that lasted more than 12 hours. Board member Aicha Davis, a Democrat who represents Dallas and Fort Worth, brought up concerns to the board saying that wording is not a “fair representation” of the slave trade. The board, upon reading the language in the suggested curriculum, sent the working draft back for revision.

“For K-2, carefully examine the language used to describe events, specifically the term ‘involuntary relocation,’” the state board wrote in its guidance to the work group.

“I can’t say what their intention was, but that’s not going to be acceptable,” Davis told The Texas Tribune on Thursday. In 2015, Texas attracted attention when it was discovered a social studies textbook approved for use in the state called African slaves who were brought to the United States, “workers

In this case, the group proposing these second grade curriculum revisions was given a copy of Senate Bill 3, Texas’ law that dictates how slavery and issues of race are taught in Texas. The law states that slavery can’t be taught as part of the true founding of the United States and that slavery was nothing more than a deviation from American values.


Ellis’ statement pointed out that slavery is currently not included in social studies instruction to second graders.

“The topic of slavery is not currently addressed in the 2nd Grade curriculum; this work is meant to address that deficiency,” he said.


Part of the proposed social studies curriculum standards outlines that students should “compare journeys to America, including voluntary Irish immigration and involuntary relocation of African people during colonial times.”


Texas is in the process of developing a new curriculum for social studies, a process that happens about every decade to update what children should be learning in Texas’ 8,866 public schools.