Texas Curriculum Swings Right

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Texas State Board of Education adopted new social studies and history guidelines Friday for classrooms in an ideological debate over academic standards that has drawn intense scrutiny.

The board gave the curriculum a more conservative bent by dictating how political events and figures will be taught to some 4.8 million primary and high school students in Texas and beyond for the next decade.

The standards also will be used by textbook publishers who often develop materials for other states based on those approved in Texas.

The board took separate votes on standards for high schools and kindergarten through eighth grades. The final vote was 9-5 on each set of standards.

The debate has brought national attention, including testimony from educators, civil rights leaders and a former U.S. education secretary.

During the monthslong process of creating the guidelines, conservatives have successfully strengthened the requirements on teaching the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers and attempted to water down rationale for the separation of church and state.

The standards will refer to the U.S. government as a "constitutional republic," rather than "democratic," and students will be required to study the decline in the value of the U.S. dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard.

Conservatives say the Texas history curriculum has been unfairly skewed to the left after years of Democrats controlling the board.

Educators have blasted the proposed curriculum for politicizing education. Teachers also have said the document is too long and will force students to memorize lists of names rather than thinking critically.

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