The Texas Board of Education has approved new standards for the state's history textbooks that will determine what children learn for the next decade. Because of the demand of books from Texas, the changes could impact classrooms across the country.
In addition to learning the Bill of Rights, the board wants to highlight a reference to the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Many say the curriculum changes will "whitewash" American history.
By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A decision by the Texas Board of Education may have an impact on Oklahoma textbooks.
The Texas Board of Education has approved new standards for the state's history textbooks that will determine what children learn for the next decade. Conservatives won the textbook battle by a vote of 10-to-5. They prevailed on standards reflecting more traditional teachings. And because there's nation-wide demand for textbooks from Texas, the effect may be felt in classrooms across the country.
The proposed curriculum by the mostly conservative board stresses religion over evolution. That includes adding a reference to "laws of nature and nature's God" for history students who explain major political ideas. In addition to learning the Bill of Rights, the board wants to highlight a reference to the Second Amendment right to bear arms. And when teaching about the civil rights movement, students must learn about the violent philosophy of the Black Panthers.
Liberals, including those on the board, claim the changes will "whitewash" American history.
"I will never surrender fighting for fair representation of minorities," said Mavis Knight, Texas Board of Education.
The clash over the Lone Star State's curriculum has raised some concerns because a majority of what this board decides could end up in textbooks across the nation, including Oklahoma.
Amy James, a former Oklahoma educator who has served on textbook committees, said Texas has a powerful influence on book publishers. She called it a business decision.
"Because Texas represents so much of their sales, they can't afford to say ‘We're not going to sale to Texas.' So Texas by default ends up dictating much of the content that children in other states are exposed to," James said.
In the past, James said publishers would print books for the top five states, and a national edition that Oklahoma would use, but tough economic times have changed that.
"At this point they're making an edition for Texas and California," James said.
The content in those two books are then repurposed for the remaining 48 states.
So, what did the four liberals on the board want? They tried multiple times to include hip-hop as an example of a significant cultural movement. They also tried to add the names of important Hispanics throughout history. The Texas Board of Education is expected to make a final vote on the new curriculum in May.
A spokeswoman for Oklahoma's Department of Education said teachers are required to follow our state's curriculum. She said textbooks are just one resource they use.'
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