Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Place for Sensible Commentary

Because this issue is both important and complex, it is essential to move beyond the errors, rants, and knee-jerk reactions that have already circulated widely.

We here invite sensible, thoughtful, expert commentary. Please write clearly and persuasively for a wide public audience, use standard English, and sign your full name. We reserve the right to remove comments that are unnecessarily partisan, snarky, or jargon-laden.


  1. L. J. Andrew Villalon, HistoryApril 15, 2010 at 8:46 AM

    I have followed the pernicious influence of Texas on the study of both history and science ever since the 1960s when the Gablers played a key role in killing the new NSF texts written in the wake of Sputnik. Frankly, I think your very measured statement (a statement I am happy to endorse) is far too easy on the morons who control public education not only in Texas, but sadly, throughout much of the United States. Am I partisan on this issue, of course. Am I unnecessarily so, not in my opinion!

  2. The charges laid on University level instructors in Texas for modern US history are the following:

    •Students will demonstrate an understanding of key developments in American political history since 1877, with emphasis on the expansion of federal and presidential power, the evolution of American political parties, and the role of dissenters in American politics.
    •Students will demonstrate an understanding of key developments in American economic history since 1877, with emphasis on the role of corporations and the rise of the welfare state.
    •Students will demonstrate an understanding of key developments in American social history since 1877 with emphasis on urban history, reform movements, labor history, family and gender roles, and religion and culture.
    •Students will demonstrate an understanding of the changing role of the US in the world since 1877, with emphasis on imperialism of the 1890s, World War I, World War II, the origins of the Cold War, and the Vietnam War.
    •Students will demonstrate an understanding of key developments in cultural interactions since 1877, with emphasis on immigration to the United States, the history of ethnic/race relations, and the post-war Civil Rights movement.

    The final goal, according to the State of Texas, is to create students that will "be able to use the knowledge and skills gained in the course in the fulfillment of their responsibilities as active citizens in a democratic society."

    If student access to the full range of information regarding these issues is limited at the high school level, it will become increasingly difficult to fulfill our mandate at the University level. Access to a full range of information and views is necessary for students to become the informed citizenry necessary for a functional democracy.

    Jason Dormady, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor of History
    Stephen F. Austin State University

  3. We must have expert unbiased scholars involved in the process of selecting school curriculum along with input by the citizens of Texas and over all approval by Texas residents.

    Cynthia Dunbar has her own personal agenda that she is trying to inject into our school system. I have long felt she is unqualified to serve on the Texas Board of Education because she is not unbiased with respect to educating our youth.

  4. Dr. Rebecca Bell-MetereauApril 16, 2010 at 3:16 AM

    The Texas State Board of Education must reconsider the curriculum for social studies, given the importance of their decisions for the future of Texas school children and for the economy of the state. We cannot afford to have such a huge dropout rate and such an alarming loss of good teachers. We must have a curriculum that is relevant to higher education and to all of our students, regardless of ethnicity. This is not a matter of "political correctness." It is a matter of common sense. I urge you to consider seriously the demands of this petition.
    Rebecca Bell-Metereau
    Professor of English and Film,
    Texas State University
    Candidate for State Board of Education, District 5

  5. Congratulations to all of you for your thoughtful -- need I say accurate -- stand. Good luck!

    Tony Wildman
    Albany, NY

  6. Thanks for your stand. Here's hoping it goes somewhere, for the sake of Texas education

  7. Dear all:

    Here is the proposed curriculum, just formally published on Friday.

    I have read the curriculum, and much of the criticism. I do not share the outrage. I pose the following challenges to critics:

    1. Please point to anything inaccurate or false in the curriculum.

    2. As to the allegedly outrageous omissions (Jefferson, religious freedom, civil rights movement, etc.), please open the curriculum document, perform appropriate word searches ("Jefferson," "religious freedom," etc.) and after finding the multiple, repeated references across the curriculum, please let me know whether, and how, you persist in your assertions.

    Best regards,
    David Upham, Ph.D., J.D.
    Assistant Professor of Politics
    University of Dallas

  8. From The Texas Council for the Social Studies (

    The latest version of the social studies Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) are now available for review at the bottom of The changes to Chapter 113 of the Texas Administrative Code reflect amendments made by the State Board of Education during its January and March meetings.

    The official public comment period begins Friday. Comments can be sent to A public hearing on the rules is scheduled for May 19 with a committee vote on the TEKS scheduled for May 20…

    An easy-to-read color-coded version of the social studies curriculum standards under consideration by the State Board of Education is now posted at This version includes all amendments made by the board at its January and March meetings. Updated documents listing the historical figures covered in each course are also posted on that page.

    Sue Anderson
    Texas Christian University

  9. I appreciate the public discussion of the Texas standards and consider what is transpiring to be of national consideration. I recently listened to a program on public radio for which the topic was the influence nationally of the three largest textbook companies - all in Texas. Because the market is so large in Texas, these companies frame their history textbooks around the TEKS, yet the textbooks are sold nationally. The influence of the TEKS via textbooks is national and bears thoughtful and critical consideration beyond Texas.

  10. Hannah S. DeckerMay 12, 2010 at 9:44 AM

    I wish to make a criticism that I would like the SBOE to address.
    How can the Board possibly defend their changing the phrase "democratic societies to "societies with representative government?" A representative government merely means that people elect representative to represent them in a governing body. "Representative" says people get to vote, but does not address the issue of who gets to vote. There have been lots of representative societies with limited voting throughout history. In a "democratic" society everybody gets to vote. Does the SBOE wish not to endorse democracy?