Hussein? Texas Board Debates Mention of Obama’s Middle Name

By Erik W. Robelen — May 21, 2010 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

As I wrote the other day, the Texas state school board is back in action this week, focusing its energy on debating, and debating, new social studies standards. It’s expected to hold a final vote on the standards later today.

Among the topics of discussion? Whether to include President Obama’s full middle name, Hussein—which, of course, also happens to be the last name of a former dictator in the Middle East—in a standard that calls on high school history students to examine the historical significance of the 2008 presidential election, reports the Dallas Morning News.

David Bradley, one of the board’s staunch conservatives, had offered the amendment. But at least one fellow Republican was skeptical of his motives, according to the newspaper’s account.

“The intent of what you’re doing is pretty obvious, but I don’t think it is necessarily correct,” said board member Bob Craig, noting that other presidents like John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan don’t have their middle names listed in the standards.

Democrat Mary Helen Berlanga was more blunt: “I’m getting pretty fed up with this conduct and the way you’re trying to be derogatory.”

Ultimately, Bradley agreed to abandon his amendment, in order “to stop the whining,” the Morning News story reports.

Meanwhile, an Associated Press story says that Texas students would be required to evaluate efforts by global organizations to undermine U.S. sovereignty under one amendment championed by conservatives that was approved yesterday.

Another Republican amendment dropped the study of a landmark 1949 federal court ruling that declared schools could not legally segregate Mexican-American students, even though the practice remained popular in Texas for decades, the Associated Press story says. But fellow Republican Bob Craig successfully restored it.

On Wednesday, a long list of people testified about the proposed standards, including many who criticized them. The critics include former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, who was a superintendent for the Houston school district before joining President Bush’s cabinet.

Amendments that conservatives on the state board have made since January came under fire from six of the nine members of a panel of teachers and professors who helped write the original draft of the new high school history standards.

“The SBOE’s suggested edits to the new curriculum reflect their lack of historic knowledge and their failure to listen to the appointed citizen review committees,” those members wrote in a two-page statement, according to another Associated Press story this week. “We have reunited as public citizens to voice our concern, our collective disgust if you will, at the distorted culmination of our work.”

But some conservatives defended the board’s handiwork.

“I think you’ve come up with a darn good product,” state Rep. Wayne Christian, a Republican, told the board, speaking on behalf of the Texas Christian Coalition.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.