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In late May, the Texas State Board of Education voted on 213 amendments to state education standards. They approved new social studies curriculum standards (final vote 9-5) to be put into effect in the 2010-2011 school year. According to their Web site, the Texas State Board of Eduaction manages the textbook adoption process and oversees development of the state’s curriculum, among other tasks.

So why is everyone up in arms?

The board approved new standards that will:

- Ensure Texas textbooks state that the Founding Fathers were guided by Christianity
- Ensure Texas textbooks would make positive references to the National Rifle Association
-Require U.S. history students in Texas to learn about leading conservative groups from the 1980s-90s (though they aren’t required to learn about liberal groups).

Initially, the board also wanted to minimize Thomas Jefferson’s role in founding the country because he pushed for separation of church and state. In the end, the board put reference to Jefferson back in the curriculum – but minimized separation of church and state by pointing out that it wasn’t in the Constitution.

The board consists of elected members – a majority of whom are conservatives. Those who stood against the changes claimed the board was pushing a conservative Christian agenda. Agenda or no agenda, it can be difficult to ignore one’s own religious upbringing when making decisions for a diversity of schoolchildren. One member, Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, did not check her beliefs at the door; she opened the board meeting by stating that the United States is a “Christian land governed by Christian principles.”

Some board members claimed these changes should balance out the liberal teachings that they believe dominate American classrooms.

Why should you care?
Texas will have to revise their textbooks and lesson plans for the next school year to begin teaching the new required standards. Texas children will begin learning just one side to some complex issues involving religion while students in other states will learn either the liberal side or the unbiased version (depending on your political leanings).

For other states, if any politicians follow Texas’s example, there’s a chance that politicians could be editing out what they don’t like in our nation’s textbooks and replacing it with wording they DO like.

Of course, editors edit out what they don’t think is appropriate all the time. But the goal of education is to inform students about the facts.

It is important, then, to have truths from both sides of the table in our historical accounts. Otherwise we are telling kids they HAVE to believe that all founders were Christians (see American Gospel by Jon Meacham) and they should NOT appreciate or even accept separation of church and state. Both sides of the political fence should be actively working to keep true accounts in textbooks and let students decide whether they like the way history played itself out. Should we eliminate the Great Depression from our textbooks because it was a hard time? Or tell only one side of the Crusades? History needs to be recorded in its actuality so we can draw our own conclusions.

Furthermore, we should continue to work toward diverse representation in our government, school boards, etc. so that all religions and political beliefs are represented in these types of debates.

Created by Religion Transcends, 2010

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One Response to “Texas Education Changes Put a Conservative Spin on Textbooks”

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