Angry Texas mom backs down social studies text publisher, frustrates Texas School Board’s bias

October 3, 2015

Cover of the Texas edition of McGraw-Hill's World Geography (image from Birdville ISD site)

Cover of the Texas edition of McGraw-Hill’s World Geography (image from Birdville ISD site)

Oh, the power of one angry mother!

It’s not like we weren’t warned, by people like the Texas Freedom Network. The last round of “book approvals” by the Texas State Board of Education introduced some stunning inaccuracies into books used in Texas history, geography and economics classrooms. GOP appointees and board members worked hard to make sure even correct history standards could be skewed in actual texts.

One Houston-area mother saw her son’s text for world geography, videoed the thing and put it up on Facebook. Surprisingly, the publisher, McGraw-Hill, backed down, and promised fixes.

Here’s the video, from Rusty Styles:

The good news? This one angry mom got McGraw-Hill to take the ethical path, and promise to fix the caption. On Facebook again, McGraw-Hill said:

This week, we became aware of a concern regarding a caption reference to slavery on a map in one of our world geography programs. This program addresses slavery in the world in several lessons and meets the learning objectives of the course. However, we conducted a close review of the content and agree that our language in that caption did not adequately convey that Africans were both forced into migration and to labor against their will as slaves.

We believe we can do better. To communicate these facts more clearly, we will update this caption to describe the arrival of African slaves in the U.S. as a forced migration and emphasize that their work was done as slave labor. These changes will be reflected in the digital version of the program immediately and will be included in the program’s next print run.

McGraw-Hill Education is committed to developing the highest quality educational materials and upholding the academic integrity of our products. We value the insight the public brings to discussions of our content.

World geography was usually taught in the 9th grade in Texas; recent changes in requirements pushed world geography to a lesser status; many Texas kids get to pick between world geography and world history (both used to be required).

Students are old enough to need to know the truth on these issues. That is not to say that history books should stretch or chop the truth at any time, but it is to note that students in early high school are developing an ethical outlook on their lives. Adults, including book publishers, need to lead exemplary lives.

What other errors didn’t get the public scrutiny they deserved a few years ago?

Any other angry moms out there?

 

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Last few Texas TAKS Exit Level Social Studies students? Review here

April 11, 2014

Stealing this wholesale from my history class blog:  A few hundred students still need to take the old TAKS Exit Level Social Studies Test, in order to finish their high school diploma requirements.

Isn't the TAKS Test dead?  Not yet -- zombie like, it still prowls the nightmares of older students working to get a Texas diploma.  Test review and practice in this post

Isn’t the TAKS Test dead? Not yet — zombie like, it still prowls the nightmares of older students working to get a Texas diploma. Test review and practice in this post

You can do it; and if you’ve been out of class for a while, or if you just want to boost your score, here’s a review, and a few lines down here is a link to a place to take an on-line practice test which you can get scored.  The practice test questions should be mostly phased out by now, but the topics will remain.

It’s spring, and a young person’s fancy and earnest wishes turn to acing these tests to get a high school diploma.

From Mr. Darrell’s Wayback Machine:

Here’s a generalized, much truncated list of things high school juniors need to know, according to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).  This is a list from which the TAKS test questions will be drawn.

Earlier posts provided the definitions of each of these terms and phrases — check those out in your study, too.

We’ll add links to these terms as we find them — you may want to bookmark this post so you can find it again.

You can download a MicroSoft Word version of this study guide, essentially the same as here in a dozen posts, in one file that prints out to about 12 pages; click here to get the printed study guide.

Update 2012:  Go here to link to an on-line, TEA-released TAKS Social Studies Exit Level Test.

Things to Know for the Grade 11 TAKS Social Studies Test

People:

  • Thomas Jefferson
  • George Washington
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • Woodrow Wilson
  • Clarence Darrow
  • William Jennings Bryan
  • Henry Ford
  • Charles A. Lindbergh
  • Harry Truman
  • George C. Marshall
  • Joseph McCarthy
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • W. E. B. DuBois
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Rachel Carson
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Thurgood Marshall

Dates:

  • 1776 – Declaration of Independence
  • 1914-1918 – World War I
  • 1929 – Stock Market Crash (beginning of Great Depression)
  • 1941-1945 – World War II (U.S. involvement)
  • 1787 – Constitution written
  • 1861-1865 – Civil War
  • 1898 – Spanish American War, debut of U.S. as a major world power

Primary Sources (mostly documents):

  • Declaration of Independence
  • U.S. Constitution
  • Bill of Rights
  • 13th Amendment
  • 14th Amendment
  • 15th Amendment
  • Wilson’s 14 Points
  • 16th Amendment
  • 17th Amendment
  • 19th Amendment
  • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (Supreme Court case from 1954)
  • 24th Amendment
  • 26th Amendment

Events:

  • Magna Carta
  • Bubonic plague
  • Columbian Exchange of food
  • English Bill of Rights (1789)
  • Declaration of Independence (1776)
  • American Revolution
  • Articles of Confederation
  • Philadelphia Convention (1787 – wrote the Constitution)
  • Federalist Papers
  • Bill of Rights
  • Nullification Crisis
  • Civil War (1861-1865, TEKS dates)
  • Thirteenth Amendment
  • Fourteenth Amendment
  • Fifteenth Amendment
  • Spanish-American War (1898, TEKS date)
  • Panama Canal
  • Sixteenth Amendment
  • Seventeenth Amendment
  • World War I
  • Wilson’s Fourteen Points
  • Treaty of Versailles
  • Nineteenth Amendment (Women’s Right To Vote, or Women’s Suffrage)
  • Red Scare
  • Prohibition (of production and sale of alcoholic beverages)
  • (Scopes Trial)
  • Stock Market Crash, October 29, 1929 (TEKS date)
  • Great Depression
  • New Deal (FDR’s program to pull U.S. out of Depression)
  • FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation)
  • Social Security Act
  • World War II (1941-1945, TEKS dates)
  • Pearl Harbor, “a day which will live in infamy” (December 7, 1941)
  • Internment of Japanese Americans
  • Battle of Midway
  • Holocaust
  • Normandy Invasion (D-Day)
  • (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) (Atomic bomb targets)
  • Truman Doctrine
  • Marshall Plan
  • NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization, established in 1949)
  • GI Bill
  • Korean War
  • McCarthyism
  • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
  • Sputnik I (1957; TEKS date)
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Twenty-fourth Amendment (banned poll taxes, a civil rights issue)
  • Twenty-sixth Amendment (18-years old to vote)
  • Vietnam Conflict
  • (Watergate)
  • (Resignation of President Nixon)

Vocabulary

  • Colonial grievances
  • Unalienable right
  • Free speech
  • Freedom of the press
  • Absolute chronology
  • Relative chronology
  • Demographic patterns
  • Subsistence agriculture
  • Market-oriented agriculture
  • Cottage industries
  • Commercial industries
  • Physical geographic factors
  • Human geographic factors
  • Population growth
  • Technological innovations
  • Telegraph
  • Scientific discoveries
  • Railroads
  • Labor unions
  • Big business
  • Farm issues
  • Minority group
  • Child labor
  • Migration
  • Immigration
  • Unrestricted submarine warfare
  • Prosperity
  • Bank failures
  • Dictatorship
  • Home front
  • Atomic bomb
  • Rationing
  • International trade
  • Political equality

Concepts/Issues:

  • Representative government
  • Revolution
  • Independence
  • Confederation
  • Constitution
  • Limited government
  • Republicanism
  • Checks and balances
  • Federalism
  • Separation of powers
  • Popular sovereignty
  • Individual rights
  • States’ rights
  • Civil war
  • Reconstruction amendments
  • Free enterprise system
  • Spatial diffusion
  • Economic growth
  • Traditional economy
  • Command economy
  • Market economy
  • Industrialization
  • Standard of living
  • Urbanization
  • Expansionism
  • World power
  • Reform
  • (Militarism)
  • (Nationalism)
  • Imperialism
  • Depression
  • Civil rights movement

Burqas forced on Texas students?

August 23, 2013

Come the CSCOPE critics from the wilds of Texas:

Of course, if you ask DanaSomething, or any other CSCOPE critic, when and where that burqa event took place, she produces no evidence.

For three weeks now I’ve made a practice of asking CSCOPE critics for evidence of the evils of Texas teachers and curriculum planners they claim occur.

Not a single example has checked out.

If you’re familiar with the “burqa” controversy in Lumberton, Texas, you know the facts don’t square with the CSCOPE critics’ shorthand version.

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Lumberton ISD Response to CSCOPE and Promotion of Islam

Recently a picture had surfaced showing five students dressed in burqas (Islamic attire) in a World Geography classroom at Lumberton High School. The lesson that was offered was not a written CSCOPE lesson; however it informed students to the customary culture of the people in the Middle East. The lesson that occurred was presented on February 1, 2013. As part of the curriculum from the World Geography TEKS (as prescribed by the state of Texas), the students are to study the culture (TEKS number 17):

“Culture. The student understands the distribution, patterns, and characteristics of different cultures.” The student is expected to:

(A)  describe and compare patterns of culture such as language, religion, land use, education, and customs that make specific regions of the world distinctive;

(B)  describe major world religions, including animism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism, and their spatial distribution;

(C)  compare economic, political, or social opportunities in different cultures for women, ethnic and religious minorities, and other underrepresented populations; and

(D)  evaluate the experiences and contributions of diverse groups to multicultural societies.”

The lesson that was offered focused on exposing students to world cultures, religions, customs, and belief systems. A description on the whiteboard behind the students show the splits in religions: Islam (Sunni and Shia), Judaism (Reform, Conservatives, and Orthodox), and Christianity (Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant). Clothing expresses the individual culture. The lesson is not teaching a specific religion, and the students volunteered to wear the clothing.

The portrait focused only on Middle Eastern attire and the students are wearing variations of this customary attire found in the Middle Eastern culture. This portrait does not reflect the entire aspect of the lesson. The lesson encompassed diversity education so students receive a firm understanding of our world and why people are motivated differently.

Lumberton ISD has purchased the CSCOPE curriculum however; the teachers are not required to teach the lessons that are provided. The school district follows the Year at a Glance, a scope and sequence of the adopted Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, as well as the Instructional Focus Document which explains the Rationale, Common Misconceptions for students, TEKS, and the Key Academic Vocabulary that supports conceptual development. The district has great teachers and supports the teachers and their individuality in methods of instructional delivery.

Lumberton is a small  town of about 12,000 people (2010 Census) a few miles north of Beaumont.  Lumberton Independent School District (ISD) schools are “recognized” under the old, just-outdated school and district rating system Texas used, suggesting that student achievement was above average.  State test scores tend to show the same. If this is their example, we should note that in addition to characterizing the lesson wrong, getting wrong the facts of students trying on clothes of other cultures, and the fact that this exercise is not at all related to CSCOPE, the students seem to be learning well.

Kudos to Lumberton, and to CSCOPE, right? Not for the Right Wing Crazies.

Remember, when Glenn Back went on national unwatched television to complain about the “Marxist” lesson in economics, when we finally got the slide, it showed clearly that it favored free marketry.

On this burqa thing?  I’m willing to say no kid has ever been “forced” to wear a burqa for any school purpose — though some may have put on a costume for a report (is that bad?).

In short, I find the critics of CSCOPE to be at odds with the facts, making stuff up to yell about.  Almost every single one of the criticisms for how the Texas standards on Islam are taught, involves the fact that Islam is taught about at all.  CSCOPE critics claim “indoctrination” when it’s clear from lesson plans, support materials, texts, state standards, and test results, that students are simply learning about history, geography and culture.

Shame on any politician who acts on such unhinged, false rants.

There’s a “debate” between Texas State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Bedlam, and the most sane member of the Texas State Board of Education, Thomas Ratliff, set for this Saturday, in Tyler. One wonders how absurd it can get. Will Patrick tell us which Texas school forced kids to wear burqas?  Don’t bet on it.  Will Patrick provide any other evidence of rampant socialism or Marxism in Texas schools?  No, don’t bet on that, either.

More (good and bad information here; caveat emptor:

The world is still safe for fairness.

The world is still safe for fairness.  Joseph McCarthy remains in his grave on the banks of the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin; Texas critics of schools and teachers should leave McCarthy’s scurrilous methods and false claims buried, too.


You make farming fun

July 7, 2012

ThePetersonFarmBros have a YouTube hit here, “I’m Farming and I Grow It”:

  1. This is a great form of reality.  How many other professions will jump into this game?
  2. Teachers, here are those big farm machines shown doing what they do — technology applied, for history?  If  you teach in an urban or suburban school, as I do, many of your students have never seen these machines in action. Many have never seen these machines, period.
  3. English and social studies teachers, use this as a warmup to an exercise for students to storyboard something, a short story, a chapter of history — somebody will have a student who can do a video with equal quality in music and video; no, it won’t meet the requirements for National History Day entries, but it’s a great start.
  4. Will this video entice any other kids to go into farming?  How could someone do a study of that?
  5. No, seriously:  This is great reality television.  I can imagine a summer series with a half dozen of these videos per hour, running four or five weeks.  Construction workers, cops, firefighters, teachers, nurses, physicians, auto mechanics, radio tower climbers, cargo airplane pilots, ferry boat captains, truck drivers . . . almost any occupation could fit, yes?

Here’s the YouTube site — lyrics are available there, and more information.

A parody music video promoting agriculture! If you like it, feel free to share it with your friends! No copyright infringement of original song intended.
Become a fan of our new facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/PetersonFarmBros
Follow Greg Peterson on Twitter @gregpeterson33
Greg Peterson Music Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/gregpetersonmusic

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Pressure on Texas Board of Education to fix damage to social studies standards

February 18, 2011

Probably not enough pressure to get the board to act, but the Dallas Morning News turned a cannon on the Texas State Board of Education this morning, asking that they fix the damage done to social studies last year.

The paper’s editorial board keyed off of the Fordham Institute’s grading of state standards — Texas failed, with at D.

Here’s the editorial in its entirety — there’s more at the Dallas Morning News website and I encourage you to go read it there:

Editorial: Report offers new reason to rewrite standards

Just in case you think it’s only us warning about Texas’ new social studies standards, check out the awful grade that the respected Thomas B. Fordham Institute gave those benchmarks in a report released Wednesday.

A big, fat “D” is what Texas got for the history, economics, geography and cultural standards the State Board of Education approved last year for Texas’ elementary and secondary school students.

Some of that awful mark was for the way the standards are organized. Fordham researchers likened their confusing structure to a jigsaw puzzle. But much of the national organization’s critique was about how politicized the State Board of Education has made those standards.

We were particularly struck by Fordham’s conclusion that the hard-right faction on the board, which dominated the writing of the standards, made the same mistake left-wing academics have made in approaching such subjects as history and economics. The Fordham study puts it this way:

“While such social studies doctrine is usually associated with the relativist and diversity-obsessed educational left, the hard right-dominated Texas Board of Education made no effort to replace traditional social studies dogma with substantive historical content. Instead, it seems to have grafted on its own conservative talking points.”

Oh, it gets worse. Back to the report: “The strange fusion of conventional left-wing education theory and right-wing politics undermines content from the start.”

For the record, Fordham is not a left-wing outpost of American thought. Its leader is Chester Finn, a former Reagan administration official and one of education’s most recognized voices. At the least, his organization’s critique is not a predictable one.

The institute echoes the complaint this newspaper has had since the 15-member Texas board rewrote the state’s social studies standards. Its hard-right faction at the time insisted on inserting its slant on those important subjects, such as suggesting Joe McCarthy wasn’t so bad, that international treaties are a problem and that the separation of church and state is misguided.

The warped view is why the revised board must go back and rewrite the standards this spring. And that should be possible.

Voters were so frustrated with the board’s work last year that they elected more moderate Republican members. Moderates now have enough of the upper hand to fix these standards before schools start planning for next year and before publishers start drafting new history and social studies textbooks.

Some on the new board may believe that rewriting the social studies standards will be too difficult. But surely Texas students deserve better than a “D” when it comes to what the state wants them to learn in some of the most critical subjects.

 

Texas fails among its peers

How big states fared on the Fordham Foundation report on social studies standards nationwide:

California: A-

New York: A-

Florida: C

Texas: D

National average: D


Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation: Free lesson plans from the Bill of Rights Institute!

February 12, 2011

A little history bauble for Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, today:

From Presidents and the Constitution, a great resource from the Bill of Rights Institute, a lesson plan on Lincoln and the Constitutional issues around the Emancipation Proclamation.  It’s very good, I think — and free (maybe only for a while?).

Presidents and the Constitution, Bill of Rights Institute

Presidents and the Constitution, Bill of Rights Institute

This Presidents and the Constitution focuses on Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation. Though he had always hated slavery, President Lincoln did not believe the Constitution gave him the authority to bring it to an end—until it became necessary to free the slaves in order to save the Union. With the Emancipation Proclamation, which he viewed as an essential wartime measure to cripple the Confederacy’s ability to fight, Lincoln took the first step toward abolition of slavery in the United States.

If you teach social studies, you probably know about the Bill of Rights Institute already — subscribe for lesson plans, news updates, and news about seminars.  They do good work, and the provide great resources.


What does urban sprawl look like?

September 22, 2010

Teachers looking for a good way to portray urban sprawl, for geography and history classes, should take a look at this photo essay at the New York Times; unfortunately for teachers, Christoph Gielen’s stunning aerial landscapes cannot be copied for PowerPoint.

Gielen’s work is well known, and many of those same images can be found at other sites.  Images to illustrate “urbanization” and “urban sprawl” from internet sources generally carry a lot more punch than the stock photos delivered with textbooks.  Mind the copyrights.

Untitled X Nevada, urban sprawl in Nevada, copyright Christoph Gielen

(Caption from New York Times presentation): Untitled XI Nevada, 2010 This Vegas-area community was built by the same company that designed the circular communities on the outskirts of Phoenix in “Untitled X / XII / XI.” Credit: Christoph Gielen (Go see the presentation at the Times site to see the other photos)

More resources:


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