Former state Education Commissioner Michael Williams recently offered some advice to the State Board of Education, which soon will begin rewriting new social studies curriculum standards to conform to the new anti-critical race theory law.
“Just tell the truth. Just put the truth in the standards, and you will be just fine,” Williams said. “Kids will be able to handle the truth.”
According to an item in Texas Education News, the former commissioner, an appointee of then-Gov. Rick Perry, addressed the board at his portrait unveiling ceremony in the board’s meeting room.
His advice was sound. Telling the truth is always the right choice for educators, and it is what teachers do in their classrooms every day.
But Williams was talking about a law designed to make Texas education less truthful by whitewashing what teachers can tell their students about racism, past and present, in America. And he was speaking to an elected board with a history of trying to rewrite parts of our history to downplay the important contributions of people of color.
There are different members on the board now. But some members have shown they are still reluctant for students to be taught some important truths, including the obvious impact of humans on climate change, something, like racism, that these children will have to learn to address or suffer tragic consequences from as adults.
Williams is correct. Children want the truth and, as long as the lessons and educational materials are age appropriate, can handle the truth.
The political effort to whitewash the teaching of racism obviously is not being driven by children. It is being driven by adults. These include a governor, many legislators and a growing number of school board members at the local level, who are seeking short-term political gain that risks our children’s future.
They are stirring up a vocal minority of parents who are uncomfortable with the truth of our growing diversity and the issue of racism and don’t want it discussed in their children’s classrooms.
But the kids are ready to learn. And if they don’t learn the truth, the whole truth, about our critical issues and problems, how can they be prepared to develop the potential path to an equitable, tolerant society that their parents and so-called government leaders refuse to pursue?