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Saturday, November 26, 2022
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Texas School Board Delays Social Studies Curriculum Revisions

Education

Texas Board of Education Seal | Image by Emree Weaver/The Texas Tribune

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The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) narrowly voted to delay a comprehensive review and revision of the social studies curriculum despite efforts to expedite the process before the next election cycle.

The 15-member board voted 8-7 to shelve plans to revise the standards until 2025. The vote came after extensive debate and public comment both for and against the proposed changes.

The issue at hand was the extensive revisions suggested by “more than 100 content experts and teachers” to the Social Studies curriculum. The proposed changes would have removed studying the national motto and the role that Hebrew legal figure Moses had in the development of American law.

Additional changes would have removed learning about the importance of a written constitution, deleted discussion about limited government, and introduced an additional focus: gender theory.

In response to the proposed revisions, State Rep. Mayes Middleton, writing on behalf of the Texas Freedom Caucus, claimed, “The proposed changes … are unacceptable and in many cases illegal. We are watching these changes closely and will not hesitate to intervene during the next legislative session, should the need arise.”

Mary Elizabeth Castle, the senior policy advisor for conservative advocacy group Texas Values, told The Dallas Express that it was a “monumental vote” that followed “what the parents wanted.”

She suggested that the proposed “revision submitted by the workgroup was unsatisfactory,” causing “parents to overwhelmingly come out and oppose those drafts.”

When asked about the timing of the vote, Castle noted that some of the left-of-center members of the school board expressed concern “that after elections, the SBOE would be more conservative.”

If a more “conservative” board is sent to Austin, the new workgroup appointed to review the standards and the members who will vote on the revisions could potentially be less likely to adopt changes similar to those proposed.

The Texas American Federation of Teachers (AFT) denounced the board’s decision, suggesting that “the SBOE ultimately chose to ignore recommendations made by more than 100 content experts and teachers after thousands of volunteer hours.”

Carisa Lopez, the Senior Political Director for the Texas Freedom Network, lamented the decision, claiming, “Texas is becoming a case study in how a torrent of falsehoods and misinformation can overwhelm the truth and poison rational debate over public education policies.”

She warned, “Texas parents have reason to worry that their children are the ones who will pay the price.”

The state school board did, however, vote 14-0 to bring standards into compliance with recent laws passed by the legislature that outlined certain content requirements. In part, these regulations instruct that “a teacher may not be compelled to discuss a particular current event or widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs.”

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