Texas Board of Education set to push back social studies overhaul until 2025

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Texas’ rewrite of how it teaches history will likely be pushed back until 2025, a move that comes after conservative groups pressured members to reject a proposed curriculum overhaul social.

Heated disagreements over what and how to teach history have derailed the timeline for revising state standards, known as Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS. It was originally due to be voted on later this year.

But members of the State Board of Education decided in a marathon meeting on Tuesday that they wanted more input. They are still expected to make some limited changes to the standards this year to align lessons with new laws enacted in the last legislative session regarding social studies.

Due to the delay, several new board members — potentially more right-leaning — could end up taking on the eventual overhaul of social studies.

Democratic members have expressed frustration that the current board is not putting together the revised program this year. The board is due to meet on Friday to discuss and vote on the plan.

“The idea of ​​throwing this on the road is unacceptable,” said member Georgina Pérez, D-El Paso.

Board members have been inundated with emails and calls from conservative groups, urging them to change course and calling previous proposals full of “critical race theory”.

The Texas Freedom Caucus — a group of Republican lawmakers — sent a letter to the State Board of Education ahead of its Tuesday meeting, noting that they were closely monitoring changes to history lessons. Lawmakers “will not hesitate to intervene in the next legislative session, should the need arise, to prevent further indoctrination and exploitation of Texas children,” they wrote.

The caucus celebrated on Twitter on Tuesday night, saying, “The board voted to drop the proposed wokeified changes to TEKS.”

The caucus’ problems echoed those of other conservative groups who bombarded board members with concerns that the proposed standards would promote critical race theory and deviate from Judeo-Christian values.

A Patriot Mobile petition circulated at the board meeting that called the proposed standards slanted by a “globalist view” and an attempt to promote “gender fluidity, sexual orientation, and critical gender theory.” the race”.

Vice President Leigh Wambsganss wrote that the company — a Christian wireless service provider linked to a political action committee that spent a lot of money helping elect conservatives to North Texas school board seats — reported the program redesign to its customers.

Educators who consulted on the potential lessons have pushed back, insisting that there is “not a single mention of critical race theory” in the curriculum proposals. The drafts — developed by working groups over countless hours — expand history lessons to be more inclusive of the diverse communities that have shaped Texas and the country, they said.

“The social studies curriculum hasn’t always included our stories,” said Mohit Mehta, a former educator at the Center for Asian American Studies. “Texas history is so much more than the Alamo.”

Students can’t wait for new social studies standards, especially since there’s so much confusion about what teachers are allowed to say under vague new laws that target discussions of race, gender, and social studies. sex and sexuality, some speakers said.

SBOE members were originally scheduled to take a final vote on the standards in November, which would give publishers ample time to prepare textbooks and teaching materials for the 2025-26 school year. It has been more than a decade since the standards saw a major update.

Some parents have asked the board to take a break until next year and allow more comment and analysis.

A group of board members also supported the delay. They said the board needed more time to set the right standards.

“I just don’t think we can do it in 2022,” said board member Pam Little, R-Fairview.

But others said the council needed to finish what it started. It would be disrespectful to the task force members who wrote the course proposals to reject them, they said.

“We have to respect our process,” said Lawrence Allen Jr., D-Richmond. “I don’t mind coming on New Year’s Eve. … We want to complete the task.

Member Aicha Davis, D-Dallas, pushed the board to explain what was so unacceptable about the TEKS proposals before them. Was it the inclusion of LGBTQ contributions? Was it talks “about the truth of chattel slavery in America?” she asked.

Nine of the 15 members of the State Council are Republicans. If the vote on the new course standards is delayed, more right-wing members could join the board after the November election, before the standards are adopted.

Julie Pickren, who testified at Tuesday’s meeting that students should be “educated, not indoctrinated,” is a former Alvin ISD administrator who was in Washington during the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to local news. She won the Republican primary for the District 7 seat after campaigning to “ban critical race theory.”

The state council’s debate on social studies was difficult from the start. Disagreements over how much Texas history to teach — and when — underpinned much of the discussion at the last meeting. There was also back and forth on how much world history to include.

Other points of contention include: whether Moses should be listed as a “person whose principles of laws and governmental institutions informed America’s founding documents” and lessons on historical LGBTQ advocacy.

The fervor about the CRT energized Conservative voters — especially around school board races — and was evident in some of the speakers who testified before the board on Tuesday.

Critical Race Theory is an academic framework that examines how policies and laws support systemic racism – such as in education, housing, or criminal justice. Conservative pundits have confused diversity and inclusion efforts, anti-racism training and multicultural programs.

Marisa Pérez-Díaz, D-Converse, said board members were inundated with emails with “the same language over and over again, latent with inaccuracies.”

Throughout this process, SBOE members occasionally pushed witnesses to identify in the written TEKS the exact issues they were seeing. Often the speakers did not indicate details.

The DMN Education Lab deepens coverage and conversation about pressing education issues critical to the future of North Texas.

The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative, with support from The Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, Garrett and Cecilia Boone, The Meadows Foundation, The Murrell Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network, Southern Methodist University, Todd A. Williams Family Foundation, and the University of Texas at Dallas. The Dallas Morning News retains full editorial control of Education Lab journalism.

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