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TEX. STATE BD. OF ED. UNDER FIRE OVER ALAMO CURRICULUM

Sep 11, 2018 by

“There continue to be efforts to not only attack religious liberty and the beliefs of Christianity in our country but also having them taught,” Saenz said.

9.11.18 – Austin American-Statesman

“Tex. State Board of Education under fire over Alamo curriculum”

By Julie Chang – American-Statesman Staff

Excerpts from this article:

Heeding concerns by conservatives that the State Board of Education is trying to water down how Texas history is taught in middle school, a board-nominated committee has backtracked on a recommendation to remove references to heroes and a letter by William B. Travis in lessons about the Alamo.

More than 60 people signed up to testify before the State Board of Education on Tuesday to express concerns about proposed changes to the state’s social studies curriculum standards, particularly those that address the Alamo, slavery, the civil rights movement and references to Judeo-Christianity in American history.

The curriculum standards serve as the framework for history, government and economics textbooks and lessons for the state’s 5.4 million public school students.

The committee’s work is part of a broader effort to streamline curriculum standards across subject areas. The board is expected to take a preliminary vote Wednesday on whether to accept changes to the social studies curriculum.

Elected officials and others spoke against the recommendation to change the curriculum standard that reads, “explain the issues surrounding significant events of the Texas Revolution, including the Battle of Gonzales, William B. Travis’s letter ‘To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World,’ the siege of the Alamo, and all the heroic defenders who gave their lives there.”

The board committee over the summer had recommended removing the reference to the letter as well as heroic defenders.

“These are the most famous words in all of Texas history,” U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Houston, told the board after reading an excerpt from Travis’ letter on Tuesday. “I cannot fathom any possible way that one can teach Texas history without teaching William Barrett Travis’ plea to the people of Texas and all Americans and the world.”

Travis, the commander of the Texian rebels at the Alamo, sent the letter to ask for help as he was being surrounded by Mexican forces. The missive is said to have inspired many of the volunteers that ended up joining the army that Sam Houston led to defeat Mexican dictator Santa Anna on April 21, 1836.

Stephen Cure, the Texas State Historical Association’s director of education and member of the work group, said it wasn’t the group’s intention to offend anyone by removing language from the Alamo curriculum standard. He said the working group was tasked with streamlining and thought the language was redundant because it’s impossible to learn about the siege of the Alamo without learning about the letter or its defenders.

Caving to the pressure, a majority of his colleagues on the work group said they would be willing to change its recommendation, Cure said Tuesday.

“The outcry from the people of Texas said that they felt it should be in there and from the committee’s perspective, we felt that it was better to make a productive recommendation,” Cure said.

The new curriculum standard with the restored language how reads that students must learn about the siege of the Alamo, including Travis’ letter and “the heroism of the diverse defenders who gave their lives there.”

…Other problems that people identified in the social studies curriculum standards or in the work groups’ proposals include:

• Students are asked to “evaluate” changes that came about as a result of the civil rights movement. The group wants the students to “identify” those changes.

• The high school U.S. history portion points to southern Democrats as opponents of the civil rights movement, neglecting to identify opponents who were Republicans like Sen. John Tower of Texas and Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona.

• The work group deleted the Holocaust as a major event of World War II, although the Holocaust is mentioned in another lesson about genocide.

• They exclude the work of Hispanic activists like Dolores Huerta.

The Texas Freedom Network has recognized the efforts of the board’s work groups to recommend revising five curriculum standards that it believed were problematic. The work groups recommended deleting “Judeo-Christian” and “Moses” from standards that asked students to identify factors that influenced the founding of America. The work groups, which were made up of primarily teachers and other education professionals, said mentioning Judeo-Christian was redundant because many of the other influences were steeped in Judeo-Christian values.

Jonathan Saenz, head of Texas Values, a conservative public policy advocacy group, said Tuesday that Judeo-Christian needs to be restored. He also criticized the working groups’ recommendation to remove a curriculum standard that requires students to compare and contrast the concept of separation of church and state with the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom

“There continue to be efforts to not only attack religious liberty and the beliefs of Christianity in our country but also having them taught,” Saenz said.

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1 Comment

  1. Carla

    This is absolutely absurd to abolish the Truth in History!!! We are destined to repeat history if we do not have knowledge and understanding of it and be destroyed by the lack. To remove history about the Holocoust and the Alamo is a travesty. Remove the naysayers for such idiotic redundancy.

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