School & District Management

History Heartburn Expected in Texas

By Mary Ann Zehr — August 24, 2009 1 min read

Texas educators have drafted new K-12 social studies standards, and they—and the state education board members who will vote on them—expect that the U.S. history strand could be contentious.

Texas board members have a reputation for being polarized ideologically. Revisions of standards for science and English-language arts in recent years have been fractious. (“Texas Board Feud Stirs Up Legislators,” April 29, 2009.)

What the state incorporates into its standards can have nationwide significance because publishers often look to Texas, as well as California, when writing textbooks.

Gail A. Lowe, the chairwoman of the state board of education, said its discussion last month focused mostly on the U.S. history portion of the overall social studies standards. “I think that’s what people think of when they think of the history we teach in schools,” she added.

Even before the new standards were drafted, a wide range of views emerged among the six experts appointed to submit written recommendations on what changes should be made.

Peter Marshall, the president of Peter Marshall Ministries, for instance, said he objected to a 5th grade “citizenship” standard that called for students to be able to identify Cesar Chavez, a Latino civil rights and labor leader, as someone who modeled active participation in U.S. democracy.

At the same time, Jesus Francisco de la Teja, a history professor at Texas State University-San Marcos, recommended that Chavez be added to a list of historical figures in one particular standard “who have influenced the community, state, and nation.”

Cesar Chavez was not removed from the standards.

Standards are important because “you want to have some order out of the chaos,” said Bronwen Choate, a world history teacher at Graham High School in Graham, Texas, who is on the high school writing team. “There are the non-negotiables that you have to cover.”

The state board is to hear public testimony on the standards in September. A final vote is expected in March.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the August 26, 2009 edition of Education Week


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion The Six Leadership Lessons I Learned From the Pandemic
These guiding principles can help leaders prepare for another challenging year—and any future crises to come.
David Vroonland
3 min read
A hand about to touch a phone.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images
School & District Management Opinion When the National Education Debate Is Too Noisy, Look Local
A local network of your peers can offer not just practical advice, but an emotional safe harbor.
Christian M. Elkington
2 min read
A team of workmen on scaffolding rely on each other.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images
School & District Management Opinion The Pandemic Forced My District to Make One Big Change Worth Keeping
The disruptive change of COVID-19 can offer opportunities even in the face of tragedy.
Erica M. Forti
2 min read
A woman looks past the pandemic to the future.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images
School & District Management Opinion A Crisis Sows Confusion. How District Leaders Can Be Clear in Their Messaging
Choosing a go-to source of information is a good starting point, but it doesn’t end there.
Daniel R. Moirao
2 min read
A man with his head in a cloud.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images