Social Studies

Historical Figures in the Texas Social Studies Standards

By Mary Ann Zehr — November 30, 2009 1 min read
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Texas educators have produced another draft of the revised social studies standards for grades K-12. Various critics have been scrutinizing the standards to see whether they include historical figures who they deem important.

Some reviewers of an earlier draft objected, for instance, that students were required to learn about Cesar Chavez, the well-known organizer for farmworkers’ rights. The Texas board of education, however, has said that Chavez will remain on the list of historical figures students must learn about.

And Hispanic legislative leaders contend that their ethnicity is underrepresented in the historical figures teachers must address.

In the standards, if a historical figure is introduced with the word “including,” he or she must be covered. If the historical figure is introduced by “such as,” the mention is meant to give teachers examples of people they can highlight in their lessons, but those examples are not required.

The Texas Education Agency has produced a document that shows which historical figures are being recommended for deletion from the social studies standards and which are being recommended for addition.

Sigmund Freud, for example, is up for deletion under “psychology.” Cesar Chavez is up for addition under “U.S. history.” The draft recommends that Theodore Roosevelt be moved from the “including” list in U.S. history to the “such as” list. But the draft recommends that he be added to the “including” category for “government.”

In other words, it would be optional for teachers to talk about Theodore Roosevelt in U.S. history class but required that he be discussed in government.

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