According to the proposed standards, President Franklin D. Roosevelt will be removed from the list of “significant political and social leaders in the United States.” However, textbooks will teach students to “identify significant conservative advocacy organizations and individuals, such as Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly, and the Moral Majority.” No analogous progressive individuals or groups are required.
Cesar Chavez narrowly made it into the standards as a Latino civil rights and labor leader, although evangelical minister Peter Marshall, one of six experts advising the state, argued, “To have Cesar Chavez listed next to Ben Franklin is ludicrous.” Marshall also argued against the inclusion of Thurgood Marshall, first African American U.S. Supreme Court justice. (Justice Marshall did make it into the standards, along with Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and the Rev. Billy Graham.)
Texas standards are of national concern. Texas and California are the states with the largest student enrollments and represent huge markets for the publishing industry. Publishers write textbooks tailored for adoption in those two states. Then those textbooks dominate the market and tend to become what is available throughout the country.
Watch for more on the controversy unleashed by these proposed requirements. The final vote on Texas social studies standards for the next decade is scheduled for March 2010.
This article incorporates reporting by Terrence Stutz in the Dallas Morning News (July 9, 2009) and Mary Ann Zehr in the Education Week blog “Curriculum Matters” (August 17, 2009).
Joel Pett/Caroonists Group
Teachers’ Unions Champion Democracy in Honduras
The Honduran Federation of Teachers Organizations (FOMH) has played a key role in protesting the coup that kidnapped and replaced the democratically elected president of Honduras in June. President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales was dragged from the presidential palace and put on a plane to Costa Rica just hours before voters were to cast ballots in a nonbinding referendum on electing a constituent assembly to redraft the constitution. Almost immediately, the protests began. In the months since, strikes, marches, honking protest caravans, and street demonstrations have been almost continuous.