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White tells the SBOE to wait till next year

As we know, the SBOE is set to take a final vote on their proposed revisions to the social studies textbook standards. They’ve received a lot of mostly negative feedback so far, but have said they’re still considering specific suggestions. Here’s what Bill White had to say to them.

I write to urge the State Board of Education to return the proposed revisions to the Social Studies TEKS, 19 TAC Chapter 13, Subchapters A, B, and C, to the TEKS review committees and to delay adoption of the TEKS until January 2011. Some of the revisions proposed by the SBOE are in direct conflict with the recommendations of the review teams and others with subject matter expertise. Substitution of judgments by elected officials on subjects requiring expertise runs counter to basic principles of academic freedom and respect for the professionalism of educators.

I specifically object to the proposed revisions to Subchapter C, Section 113.42(c)(20)(C) and ask that the proposal as written by the review committee prior to the SBOE’s revisions be adopted.

That TEK was designed by educators and experts to teach about the impact of Enlightenment period ideas, following Section 113.42(20)(A) which recognizes the ideas as a precursor to democratic-republican government. Instead of providing content to support the lesson, the SBOE’s proposal strips out the terms “Enlightenment ideas” and “political revolutions,” and omits Thomas Jefferson from the list of Enlightenment thinkers who inspired political revolutions.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration.

Sincerely,

Bill White

A press release from White is beneath the fold. It’s not too late for you to submit your own feedback if you want to. The goal here is to get them to put it off till 2011, when the current lame ducks have been replaced by their elected successors. There’s no way it actually happens, of course – you think Don McLeroy and Cynthia Dunbar are going to turn this chance down? – but we’ve got to be as loud and clear as we can about their illegitimacy. The Trib and TFN have more, the latter including a list of McLeroy’s proposed amendments. Because what they’ve come up with isn’t bad enough already.

Bill White submitted formal comment to the State Board of Education in advance of next week’s voting on revised curriculum standards. His comment is available on the Bill White for Texas blog.

White specifically called out a standard including Thomas Jefferson as a leader whose ideas inspired political change. The SBOE removed Thomas Jefferson, and Bill White asked that the standard be adopted as written by the review committee prior to the SBOE’s revisions.

“Substitution of judgments by elected officials on subjects requiring expertise runs counter to basic principles of academic freedom and respect for the professionalism of educators,” White wrote.

He previously noted that, “Individual school board members are no doubt sincere in their beliefs, and some of the changes can be debated by reasonable people. But, under the leadership of another extreme Rick Perry appointee, the amendment process injected partisan politics into our school books and classrooms.”

Last month, White called on Rick Perry to ask his appointed chair of the State Board of Education (SBOE) to delay the May vote on curriculum standards until newly elected board members are in office.

Delaying action until next year could save money on new textbooks and allow new board members to provide leadership that will not allow political interference with education.

Perry’s previous appointed chair of the SBOE, Don McLeroy, engaged in such extreme antics that the Texas Senate refused to confirm him in 2009 and primary voters tossed him out in March of this year.

“When it comes to preparing young Texans for the future, state leaders need to set aside any political agenda,” said Katy Bacon, campaign spokesperson. “Rick Perry needs to provide leadership and tell his political appointees to keep partisan politics out of the classroom.”

Last month, Texas Council for the Social Studies and the Texas Social Studies Supervisors Association weighed in saying, “State education standards should be balanced and neutral and not reflective of political viewpoints.”

University of Texas history professors attracted 800 co-signers to a letter stating SBOE revisions would interfere with “the study of the social sciences in our public schools by misrepresenting and even distorting the historical record and the functioning of American society.”
Nearly 13,000 people sent letters, speaking out about partisan politics in the classroom, through www.BillWhiteForTexas.com.

Perry’s response to the public outcry about the SBOE’s revisions was to say he was not going to “try to outsmart them.”

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