The State Board of Education (SBOE) is composed of elected officials from 15 districts in Texas. Currently, nine of the SBOE districts are represented by Republicans, and six SBOE districts are represented by Democrats.
The SBOE and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) are two separate entities, but they work closely to compile educational standards.
According to the Texas Education Agency, the SBOE is primarily in charge of:
Setting curriculum standards; Reviewing and adopting instructional materials; Establishing gradation requirements; Overseeing the Texas Permanent School Fund; Appointing board members to military reservation and special school districts; Providing final review of rules proposed by the State Board for Educator Certification; Reviewing the commissioner’s proposed award of new charter schools, with the authority to veto a recommended applicant.
Although official SBOE policy decisions must be made by the entire board, most of the detailed preliminary work is done in committee sessions. While ad hoc committees can be created to address specific issues, the three primary committees are: Committee on Instruction, Committee on School Finance/Permanent School Fund, and the Committee on School Initiatives.
How the SBOE Works
First, the SBOE invites the public to submit testimony. As of publication, the next time the SBOE will hear testimony is August 30. The SBOE then reviews and discusses the testimony provided, then decides what to send to TEA workgroups.
Workgroups are composed of experts, teachers, and other advisors who review the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards and review the recommendations of SBOE members. If they agree with SBOE members, they will change TEKS standards to match what the SBOE members recommended.
In TEA workgroup meetings, the various workgroups are in charge of amending details to the draft of the TEKS. After that, the TEA posts the TEKS draft online for public review.
Content advisors, who are nominated by SBOE members, are then responsible for ensuring the SBOE recommendations are addressed in the TEKS.
After the content advisors review the submitted draft, the SBOE reads the draft for the first time to the public. They go over every single line of what children will be learning in public schools.
The first reading also includes an opportunity to testify before the SBOE. During this meeting, the SBOE may make amendments to the draft of the TEKS. Afterwards, the SBOE will vote to approve the draft and send it to the next stage of the process.
After this initial vote, there is a 30-day period in which the public can submit comments on the draft of the TEKS. Comments can be submitted to the TEA website “during [the] official public comment period between the September and November 2022 meetings.”
The content advisors then review the public comments and the TEKS draft and make new edits to the draft.
Once this is completed, the SBOE will read the second draft of the TEKS to the public. For the last time in the process, the public, including content advisors, can testify before the SBOE. Then the SBOE will make final amendments to the TEKS and vote to approve the draft for adoption.
The last step in the process is a technical edit where any spelling and grammatical mistakes will be corrected. In this stage, content cannot be changed. Once this process is complete, the TEKS are officially adopted.
Social Studies TEKS
Prior to publication, the SBOE and TEA amendments to TEKS for social studies included:
Kindergarteners are expected to:
- Explain how Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Dolores Huerta, and Cesar Chavez advocated for positive change.
- Communicate an understanding that world leaders cooperate through world organizations.
- Identify different types of money in the world.
First-graders are expected to:
- Identify the British royal family and explain why they are important.
- Identify where Hinduism and Buddhism originated and describe modern celebrations connected to each religion. [Notably, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity are not afforded the same time.]
- Describe key elements of the Wampanoag, the Pueblo, and the Iroquois culture before the arrival of English colonists.
Second-graders are expected to:
- Define migration and explain how some migrations are voluntary and some are forced.
- Trace the transatlantic slave trade to show the Middle Passage using geographic tools and describe each leg of the trade.
- Describe the differences between nomadic and agricultural groups in the past.
The only social studies TEK that remains from this list is the second-grade TEK to “define migration and explain how some migrations are voluntary and some are forced.”
The more balanced and updated workgroup draft includes the transatlantic slave trade, which saw nearly 400,000 out of 12.5 million slaves shipped to North America; the Trail of Tears, which saw 100,000 American Indians forced to relocate, 3,500 of them dying; and the Three Gorges Dam, which displaced at least 1.3 million people.
Concerned citizens can view contact information for their SBOE member using Texas Scorecard’s directory.