The Texas State Board of Education voted last week to remove several historical figures from their history requirements as part of an effort to streamline the curriculum. The most notable figures taken out of the requirements included former first lady and secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller, an Alabama woman born blind and deaf who went on to finish college.
The board opted to keep other figures recommended for removal, most notably Rev. Billy Graham, Moses’ influence on the United States of America’s laws, the Judeo-Christian influence among America’s founders, and a reference to the heroism of the Alamo’s defenders. They also voted to reinsert a reference to the conflict in Israel, saying that the “Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict.”
The board acted on recommendations from a workgroup who had been tasked with looking for ways to curb the number of required figures students had to learn about in history. One member of the committee explained that if students had to learn about too many figures, they would spend more time memorizing names than learning about history.
The workgroup recommended removing references to the nation’s “Judeo-Christian heritage,” but the board rejected that proposal, garnering praise from conservative groups in the Lone Star State. Jonathan Saenz, the President of the conservative values advocate Texas Values, released a statement praising the decision. He said, “In Texas, you don’t mess with the Alamo and you don’t mess with our Christian heritage. We applaud the majority of the State Board of Education for doing the right thing by restoring our foundational rights and history. We are very thankful for the support of Gov. Greg Abbott. We look forward to these crucial teaching standards being included in the final version of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills Standards and we are prepared to fight to protect these standards all the way to the end.”
Chris Turner of Grand Prairie, the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus took issue with the decision. He tweeted” SBOE needs to reject these changes. If Helen Keller was an important historical figure when I was in school (and she was), then she still is today. @HillaryClintonis the 1st and only woman to be the presidential nominee of a major party in U.S. history. Enough said.”
SBOE needs to reject these changes. If Helen Keller was an important historical figure when I was in school (and she was), then she still is today. @HillaryClinton is the 1st and only woman to be the presidential nominee of a major party in U.S. history. Enough said. #txlege https://t.co/0aKIHV1Iq8— Chris Turner (@ChrisGTurner) September 14, 2018
The workgroup based their recommendations on a rubric they developed to assess the importance of including a person or event in the curriculum. Hillary Clinton scored a 5 and Helen Keller a 7 on a 20-point scale.
Last week’s vote was preliminary and will not be formally adopted until November.
Photo courtesy: Unsplash/Jan Mellstrom