The textbook wars are on. There are many indications that there are attempts to substantially revise history.
The highly anticipated public hearing on the standards for the Social Studies curriculum is underway at the Texas State Board of Education. Over fifty people are signed up to speak, however it is highly unlikely they will get to all of them-especially since they granted the first member of the public over 20 minutes at the podium (after the chairwoman explained each speaker would be granted three minutes). Before today, the board has heard 17 hours of testimony from 116 speakers, and has been sent over 14,000 e-mails regarding the curriculum. Today’s speakers have primarily expressed concern that their ethnic group or religion is being excluded from the Social Studies curriculum-and those religions include Christianity, Judaism, and Sikhism. One speaker pleaded that different genocides will taught to children in the future. Another begged the board to include war heroes and Congressional Medal of Honor winners in its standards. The mood inside is subdued, especially following a scolding from the chairwoman regarding audience applause.
Look and decide for yourself. Here’s a snippet from a page that has source material so that you can see the proposals.
The State Board of Education (SBOE) has legislative authority to adopt the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for each subject of the required curriculum. SBOE members nominated educators, parents, business and industry representatives, and employers to serve on the review committees.
Proposals including amendments made by the State Board of Education in January 2010
The following documents show the historical figures that are included in the latest draft revisions to the social studies TEKS.
• Alphabetized list of all names following “including” with grade level or course designation
• Alphabetized list of all names following “such as” with grade level or course designation
• Updated color-coded list: Historical Figures by Grade Level (more detailed)
• Updated color-coded list: Historical Figures by Grade Level (less detailed – black & red)
Take a special look at United States History Studies Since 1877. Never mind that there was “a little bit” of history to this country prior to 1877. Let’s make a simple test and see if General Nathanael Greene is mentioned. Who is he? Only the General who, in a critical battle, forced Cornwallis to flee to New York seeking to resupply — only to discover that the French blockade had cut off the supply route from England. With a smaller and inferior force, the American general even while losing the battle so decimated Cornwallis’ superior army that it led to the British surrender in short order.
That was at the battle of Guilford Courthouse. Now you know why I like that story! But it won’t be in these history books.
Greene’s strategy is revealed here:
Greene now resolved upon the unfolding of his strategy, if he could lure Cornwallis to Guilford Court House, North Carolina, he would have a battleground of his own choosing for his inferior army and at the same time Cornwallis would be unusually distant from his main base of supplies at Wilmington. Greene sent word to all American detachments to consolidate and meet at Guilford Court House. At this time Greene wrote to Washington that his retreating was almost at an end as he hoped to give battle to Cornwallis on ground of his own choosing.
via General Nathanael Greene. (http://www.ushistory.org/valleyforge/served/greene.html accessed 3/10/2010)
Now I must admit that I don’t know if current American history texts include pre-1977 events — but they should. I heard a snippet in a radio news report recently (don’t recall the source) that a statement had been made that students today don’t know anything about that older history and can’t relate to it. Duh! Certainly not if it’s not part of the curriculum! That’s the point of teaching: not only to let them know about it but also to be able to relate to it at least to an extent to appreciate the decades and centuries of sacrifice and hardship that has forged this nation.
I do know where a complete history can be found: William Bennett Creates Innovative History Series for Grades 8-12 (a shameless plug for a prior blog of mine).
Here’s what I say:
- Pay attention to your State Board of Education.
- Study the issue.
- Make your voice heard … there’s still time.
The member for SBOE District 5 which covers a lot of central Texas and the Hill Country is: Ken Mercer
P.O. Box 781301
San Antonio, TX 78278-1301