Texas may reopen social studies standards for rewrite
Sharp criticism by a conservative think tank of Texas’s new social studies standards has sparked new debate over the controversial issue and may lead to a rewriting of the standards.
The Texas standards earned a “D” in a state-by-state review of history curriculum standards by the conservative non-profit Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
Texas was one of 28 states that received a "D" or "F" for their history standards; the average grade across the states was a D. Top scorers were South Carolina, Alabama, California, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York and the District of Columbia (which was included as a state even though it isn’t).
The adoption of the social standards standards was a long hotly debated process in which members of the state’s Board of Education made, as the Fordham review said, “no secret of their evangelical Christian-right agenda, promising to inculcate biblical principles, patriotic values, and American exceptionalism.”
The standards were formally adopted notwithstanding the criticism and things had quieted down until now, with the publication on Wednesday of the institute’s report.
Thomas Ratliff, a new Republican member of the state education board reacted by saying that he wants to take the social standards and send them back through a process of revision with teams of experts.
"Go back through with teachers, experts, businessmen and women and do it right,” he was quoted as saying by the Houston Chronicle.
The chairwoman of the panel, Chair Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas, doesn’t want to revisit the standards, but legislators may force her to, the Chronicle said.
Just how bad are the standards? According to the Fordham report:
“Texas has constructed a bizarre amalgam of traditionally ahistorical social studies—combining the usual inclusive, diversity-driven checklists with a string of politically and religiously motivated historical distortions. It is particularly ironic that the aggressively right-tilting Texas Board of Education embraced the mindset and methodology of social studies, traditionally the tool of a left-leaning educational establishment. The result is the worst of both worlds.
“Rigor is difficult to assess, for coherent content outlines are not provided; teachers only get bald references to events and lists of names, split among confusing strands and courses. The only real difference at higher grade levels is that there are somewhat more examples, specific events, and time spans. Most disturbingly, history is distorted throughout the document in the interest of political talking points. Texas’s patchy and distorted content receives a two out of seven for Content.”
Follow my blog every day by bookmarking washingtonpost.com/answersheet. And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our Higher Education page at washingtonpost.com/higher-ed Bookmark it!
| February 18, 2011; 5:00 AM ET
Categories: History | Tags: fordham institute, history standards, houston chronicle, texas board of education, texas legislature, texas social studies standards, the answer sheet
Save & Share: Previous: STEM Sell: Are math, science really more important than other subjects?
Next: Dawn of the dumbest school data
Posted by: ohiggins51 | February 18, 2011 7:02 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: clermontpc | February 18, 2011 7:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Seek__The__Truth | February 21, 2011 4:22 PM | Report abuse