What? The Texas State Board of Education is doing such a shoddy job of writing social studies standards that they don’t even name the current president of the U.S.?
It’s a cautionary tale of overprescribing, and of looking at everything as if it has some ulterior motive. But is there any rational reason why the SBOE refuses to utter the name “Obama?”
SBOE should stop gutting social studies standards and vote to simply accept the updates provided by teachers, historians, economists and geographers. The process is out of control, embarrassing to Texas, and damaging to education.
April 28, 2010
The president has a name: it’s Barack Obama
TSTA President Rita Haecker created a stir among legislators today when she testified, at a hearing hosted by the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, that the State Board of Education, in its recent rewrite of social studies curriculum standards, had refused to name President Barack Obama.
That bit of news seemed to catch several lawmakers by surprise. They already knew that the right-wing bloc on the board had attempted to rewrite history. But to go so far as to omit the name of the historic, first African American president of the United States seemed preposterous, even by conservative leader Don (the Earth is 5,000 years old) McLeroy’s standards.
Haecker was correct. Barack Obama’s name, so far, has not been included in the history curriculum standards on which the SBOE is scheduled to take a final vote next month. The standards do note the “election of first black president” as a significant event of 2008, but they don’t say who that black president is.
Haecker urged legislators to make changes, if necessary, to the curriculum setting process to protect educator input and ensure that “scholarly, academic research and findings aren’t dismissed or diminished at the whim of a board member’s own political or religious view of the world.”
State Education Commissioner Robert Scott accepted the caucus’ invitation to voluntarily testify on the curriculum adoption process. He said his and the Texas Education Agency’s role was mostly in technical support of the SBOE.
Board Chairwoman Gail Lowe of Lampasas, who also had been invited, declined to attend, even though the caucus had offered to pay her travel expenses.
Predictably, Lowe was skewered for her failure to show up by the mostly Democratic legislators who attended the caucus hearing. Lowe must have figured it was better to be skewered in absentia than in person.
You can read Rita Haecker’s prepared testimony here:
Oh, go on — you can say it — tell your friends: