Texas board drops Hil­lary Clin­ton, He­len Keller from cur­ricu­lum man­date

Groups con­tended kids had to learn too much

USA TODAY International Edition - - NEWS - Doug Stan­glin

The State Board of Ed­u­ca­tion in Texas has voted to drop sev­eral his­tor­i­cal fig­ures, in­clud­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton, Barry Gold­wa­ter and He­len Keller, from the state’s re­quired so­cial stud­ies cur­ricu­lum to “stream­line” the ma­te­rial for mil­lions of pub­lic school stu­dents.

The de­ci­sion to re­move such fig­ures would not pre­vent teach­ing about them, but it would not be manda­tory.

Mem­bers of the vol­un­teer work groups that made such rec­om­men­da­tions to the board said the state re­quires chil­dren to learn about too many his­tor­i­cal fig­ures.

Elim­i­nat­ing Clin­ton from the re­quired cur­ricu­lum will save teach­ers 30 min­utes of in­struc­tional time, one work group es­ti­mated, and elim­i­nat­ing Keller will save 40 min­utes, The Dal­las Morn­ing News re­ported.

The board’s ten­ta­tive de­ci­sion Fri­day, which faces a fi­nal vote in Novem­ber af­ter a pe­riod of pub­lic re­sponse, af­fects 5.4 mil­lion Texas pub­lic school stu­dents. The elected board mem­bers rep­re­sent spe­cific ge­o­graph­i­cal ar­eas of the state.

Barbara Cargill, a Texas Repub­li­can and mem­ber of the 15-per­son board, told The Dal­las Morn­ing News that “the rec­om­men­da­tion to elim­i­nate He­len Keller and Hil­lary Clin­ton was made by (Texas Es­sen­tial Knowl­edge and Skills) work groups.”

“How­ever, the board did vote to agree with the work groups’ rec­om­men­da­tions,” she said. “In speak­ing to teach­ers and tes­ti­fiers, they did not men­tion these spe­cific dele­tions.”

The Repub­li­can-dom­i­nated board also ten­ta­tively ap­proved restor­ing lan­guage, elim­i­nated by one com­mit­tee, re­fer­ring to Moses in lessons about Amer­ica’s found­ing.

And af­ter an out­cry from con­ser­va­tives and Gov. Gregg Ab­bott, the board also voted to re­in­state ref­er­ences to “hero­ism” in stud­ies about the Bat­tle of the Alamo, a hal­lowed event in Texas history.

The com­mit­tee had called “heroic,” in ref­er­ence to the bat­tle, a “val­uecharged” term, ac­cord­ing to the Texas Tri­bune. Af­ter Texas Monthly mag­a­zine pub­lished an ar­ti­cle on the de­bate, how­ever, Ab­bott called on Tex­ans to con­tact their ed­u­ca­tion mem­bers mem­bers to “stop po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness in our schools.”

In ad­di­tion, the board voted to keep a re­quire­ment that stu­dents ex­plain how the “Arab re­jec­tion of the State of Is­rael has led to on­go­ing con­flict” in the Mid­dle East.

Texas high school stu­dents have been re­quired to learn about Hil­lary Clin­ton af­ter the for­mer first lady made history in 2016 as the first fe­male pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee of a ma­jor po­lit­i­cal party. Third-graders have been re­quired to learn about Keller, a dis­abil­ity rights ac­tivist and the first deaf-blind per­son to earn a Bach­e­lor of Arts de­gree.

Gold­wa­ter, the 1964 Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, has been sin­gled out as the first eth­ni­cally Jewish pres­i­den­tial can­di­date from a ma­jor party and pri­mary ar­chi­tect of the modern con­ser­va­tive move­ment.

Re­gard­ing which his­tor­i­cal fig­ures to in­clude in the manda­tory cur­ricu­lum, a key con­sid­er­a­tion was whether the in­di­vid­ual was from an un­der­rep­re­sented group or trig­gered a wa­ter­shed change.

Clin­ton re­port­edly scored a 5 on the 20-point grad­ing scale, and Keller scored a 7.

In June, one com­mit­tee, fol­low­ing di­rec­tion from the board, re­versed a rec­om­men­da­tion by a dif­fer­ent com­mit­tee to re­move the late evan­ge­list Billy Graham from the manda­tory list, ac­cord­ing to the Austin Amer­i­can-States­man. Graham had scored a 4 on the grad­ing scale.

The board also soft­ened lan­guage on slav­ery as a cause of the Civil War, the news­pa­per re­ported.

Although mul­ti­ple Democrats wanted slav­ery sin­gled out as the cause of the Civil War, the board voted to re­tain list­ing sec­tion­al­ism and states’ rights as “con­tribut­ing fac­tors” for the con­flict. The board, how­ever, added lan­guage that the ex­pan­sion of slav­ery was the cen­tral cause of the Civil War.

The Repub­li­can-dom­i­nated board also ten­ta­tively ap­proved restor­ing lan­guage, elim­i­nated by one com­mit­tee, re­fer­ring to Moses in lessons about Amer­ica’s found­ing.

Hil­lary Clin­ton’s his­toric nom­i­na­tion to the pres­i­dency by a ma­jor party briefly earned her a spot in Texas pub­lic schools’ cur­ricu­lum. JEFF SWENSEN/GETTY IMAGES

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