As the State Board of Education (SBOE) considers radical changes to educational standards for K-8 students in social studies, parents and activists across the state have mobilized. But while it appears their voices have been heard, there are still problems.
Following the SBOE meeting earlier this month, where the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) educational standards were originally considered and declared “radical,” the TEKS were sent back to a workgroup for rewrites and updates.
On Tuesday, the workgroup released the updated TEKS.
The updated TEKS have removed every single TEKS previously highlighted by Texas Scorecard as potentially problematic—except for one.
These are examples of the previously proposed TEKS for K-2 specifically:
- Identify reasons why people came to the Americas and took land to form colonies. (Emphasis added) (K)
- Explain how Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Dolores Huerta, and Cesar Chavez advocated for positive change. (K)
- Communicate an understanding that world leaders cooperate through world organizations. (K)
- Identify different types of money in the world. (K)
- Describe key elements of the Wampanoag, the Pueblo, and the Iroquois culture before the arrival of English colonists. (1)
- Identify the British royal family and explain why they are important. (1)
- Identify where Hinduism and Buddhism originated and describe modern celebrations connected to each religion. (1) [Notably, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity were not afforded the same time.]
- Define migration and explain how some migrations are voluntary and some are forced. (2)
- Trace the transatlantic slave trade to show the Middle Passage using geographic tools and describe each leg of the trade. (2)
- Describe the differences between nomadic and agricultural groups in the past. (2)
Defining migration and discussions of how some are voluntary and some are forced remains in second grade. However, multiple examples of forced migration are given, providing more balanced coverage for students.
The new chronological framework remains in place for social studies; therefore, Texas history is still not allotted an entire year of study at any point in K-8.
Jeff Lasch, a content advisor for the ongoing revision, stated previously that “we are on the verge of radically changing the social studies framework for no good reason.”
Additionally, former SBOE member Terri Leo-Wilson told Texas Scorecard that “K-2 students are grammar school students who developmentally are not ready for abstract and advanced concepts.”
However, besides the framework, the SBOE still changes the B.C. and A.D. dating system to the B.C.E and C.E. dating system in the latest TEKS update.
A few other TEKS remains problematic as well, specifically for third- through eighth-graders.
A TEKS for third-grade students expects them to “understand[s] that humans migrated from Africa and dispersed around the globe,” which is an evolutionary theory being treated as fact.
In sixth grade, students are expected to “explain how Abigail Adams, Molly Brant, Deborah Sampson, and Phyllis Wheatley challenged traditional roles by advocating for women’s rights, engaging in political negotiations, fighting on the battlefield, and advocating for abolition, respectively, during the American Revolution.”
Additionally, eighth-graders are expected to “compare the goals of the American Indian, civil rights, [LGBT] pride, and women’s liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s.”
Meanwhile, another supposition treated as fact is a sixth-grade TEKS for students to “identify how ideas from the Great Law of Peace of the Haudenonsaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy influenced the Articles of Confederation.” Though some of the Founding Fathers did observe the Iroquois, this theory is contested by some scholars, as the Magna Carta, English Common Law, Locke, and Montesquieu are all considered to be the most significant influences on American government.
Texas GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi told Texas Scorecard that “school administrators wonder why a majority of Texas parents, both Republican and Democrat, support school choice while they cram this nonsense down our children’s throats.”
The SBOE will be meeting from August 30 to September 2 to hear testimony on the TEKS and framework.
Concerned citizens can testify before the SBOE next week and contact their SBOE members through the Texas Scorecard directory.