In Texas public schools, it’s out with Helen Keller, in with Dolores Huerta

Do the 5.4 million students in Texas’ public school system need to learn about Helen Heller? How about Hillary Clinton? What about “Judeo-Christian values”?

In a move made to “streamline” the public school social studies curriculum, the Texas State Board of Education voted to ditch several dozen historical figures — Clinton and Keller numbering among them — from its mandatory studies, the Dallas Morning News reports.

As for what made the cut, the Board of Ed still wants kids to remember the Alamo. And students are still required to learn about “Moses’ influence on the writing of the nation’s founding documents, multiple references to ‘Judeo-Christian’ values and a requirement that students explain how the ‘Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict’ in the Middle East,” according to the Dallas Morning News. High school students will find Moses where Thomas Hobbes used to be.

And one woman whose contributions to American history are frequently overlooked and/or misattributed to her friend and ally Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, is getting her due, finally being added to a section on “significant leaders who supported various rights movements, including Martin Luther King Jr. [and] Chavez.”

Two teachers who spoke with the Dallas Morning News said that state requirements for history had grown so vast and cumbersome that students were too busy memorizing dates and names rather than devoting time to “real learning.” As for the process by which the Board of Education Marie Kondo-ed history class, a 15-member group of board-nominated volunteers  came up with a rubric for grading every historical figure to rank who is ‘essential’ to learn and who isn’t.”:

The formula asked questions like, “Did the person trigger a watershed change”; “Was the person from an underrepresented group”; and “Will their impact stand the test of time?”

Keller, mainstay of elementary school classes the nation over, scored a measly seven out of a possible 20 points.

Other significant changes involve not what was taken out but what’s being put in, especially with regard to some of the most seismic events in world history.

For fifth graders, a section on the Civil War will be amended to recognize the “central role of the expansion of slavery in causing the Civil War and other contributing factors including sectionalism and states’ rights.” As the Dallas Morning News reported, “previous language included a list of factors, among them slavery and states’ rights.”

And high school students will now see language about “German invasions of Poland and the Soviet Union, the Holocaust, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Normandy landings, and the dropping of the atomic bombs” in the section on “the major causes and events of World War II.”

Author: Jessica M. Goldstein


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