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The historians have their say

The various legislative groups held their SBOE hearings on Wednesday. In pointing out the many ways in which that unesteemed body screwed the pooch on social studies, they joined with others in calling for a delay in adopting the new curriculum standard, pointing out that doing so could save the state a few bucks at a time when such things are needed.

With severe budget projections facing Texas next year, it makes sense to postpone the $800 million price tag for new history books, some legislators said.

“There’s no rush necessary. We have plenty of time to do it right,” said Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, which organized the special legislative hearing.

A dozen historians and other experts took aim at the proposal, which the education board plans to adopt May 21.

Historians described the document as bloated with detail and a distortion of history that glorifies the achievements of white males. Board members made nearly 300 amendments, changing recommendations of the board’s own experts so significantly that they may have violated state law, some lawmakers said.

That’s a pretty good idea, and it’s also a fairly standard thing to delay making some purchases to help balance budgets. There are certainly plenty of worse ways for the Lege to find cost reductions this biennium.

During the testimony, Texas Education Agency Commissioner Robert Scott described the SBOE’s whitewashing of history as “payback” by the social conservative bloc. You can read a transcription of his remarks at BOR. You don’t have to be a connoisseur of the McLeroy/Dunbar/Bradley/Mercer oevre to realize that resentment is the main force that drives them, but it’s always nice to have it made clear and on the record. As Martha notes, this was just another way of saying that elections have consequences, which is why it’s important to elect qualified and responsible people to the SBOE. We see what happens when we don’t. EoW has more.

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One Comment

  1. Jeff N. says:

    I was unfamiliar with Robert Scott’s record until recently, but the comment about “payback” is very troubling to hear from the head of TEA.

    Last Friday, the Texas Supreme Court decided a case in which Mr. Scott had tried to prevent the Presidio ISD from appealing in Travis County his decision to reinstate a teacher the school district had fired for violating its policies against corporal punishment. Scott’s argument seemed to be that a Travis County district court would be likely to undo his reinstatement. The supreme court ruled that Scott didn’t have standing to prevent the Travis County appeal from going forward. The litigation over Scott’s decision seemed to waste a year or more of scarce time and resources for the courts and the AG’s office, which was required to defend Scott’s position.

    Here’s the supreme court’s decision: http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/historical/2010/apr/080958.htm