Combatting liberal education standards of the federal government, the Texas Legislature is considering legislation to add a patriotic curriculum to Texas schools.
On Thursday, the Senate Education Committee met to consider two bills to do so.
Senate Bill 1776 by State Sen. Donna Campbell (R–New Braunfels) would include an elective course on the founding principles of the United States for public high school students, as well as posting of the United States’ founding documents in public school buildings.
Another bill, Senate Bill 2026 by State Sen. Larry Taylor (R–Friendswood), would require the instruction of “informed patriotism, which consists primarily of leading students through close study of America’s and Texas’ founding documents” in public schools.
Both bills would emphasize competency and knowledge concerning the state’s founding documents in grades K-12.
Taylor cited the Texas Public Education Code, Section 4, as grounds for these bills to be supported:
The mission of the public education system of this state is to ensure that all Texas children have access to a quality education that enables them to achieve their potential and fully participate now and in the future in the social, economic, and educational opportunities of our state and nation. That mission is grounded on the conviction that a general diffusion of knowledge is essential for the welfare of this state and for the preservation of the liberties and rights of citizens. It is further grounded on the conviction that a successful public education system is directly related to a strong, dedicated, and supportive family and that parental involvement in the school is essential for the maximum educational achievement of a child.
Tom Lindsay of Texas Public Policy Foundation and Steve Swanson of Improve Texas Schools came in support of the bills, saying, “Learning their rights provides all students in Texas the tools to succeed.”
Judy Nichols, a citizen who came to testify for the bill representing herself and neighbors, said, “We steal from our students the blood of liberty when we fail to teach them about liberty. Students are not comfortable in standing up in support of liberty because of the lack of understanding of liberty and its importance, and this is a failure that needs to be addressed.”
Other citizens who came to testify, however, argued there should be some added language to the bills.
Michael Baumgartner, a student at St. Edward’s University, testified that “civics education should include public discourse and problem-solving.”
Maggie Stern testified that there should be civic knowledge and bipartisanship in education, saying that the majority of Texas students agree that it is their duty to be civically active, but they need the opportunity, knowledge, and education to do so.
Robbie Hall suggested amending SB 2026 to add more comprehensive language to provide professional development for teachers and educators, claiming that the bill leaves room for dangerous political activism in the classroom.
Companion bills House Bill 1776 by State Rep. Keith Bell (R–Forney) and House Bill 4509 by State Rep. Greg Bonnen (R–Friendswood) were also considered by the House committee.
Both bills were left pending in the committee.