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Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 02/18/2011

Texas may reopen social studies standards for rewrite

By Valerie Strauss

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.”

Stay tuned.


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By Valerie Strauss  | 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  
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As a Texas Social Studies teachers, I pray they do!!

Posted by: ohiggins51 | February 18, 2011 7:02 AM | Report abuse

This makes a lot of sense. I like it dude.

Posted by: clermontpc | February 18, 2011 7:50 PM | Report abuse

The Fordham report is biased and completely inaccurate. It claims the Texas standards are missing slavery and that the standards explicitly urge students to condemn federal entitlement programs. Further, apparently it is not acceptable for students to be taught the benefits of our free enterprise system. So many of the reports' statement are so baseless and downright untrue that it is laughable.

For a comparison of the reports statements vs what the Texas standards actually say visit and

Posted by: Seek__The__Truth | February 21, 2011 4:22 PM | Report abuse

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