Don’t remove Helen and Hillary; remove STAAR from classrooms


The latest assault on history by the State Board of Education majority was necessary to give teachers more time to teach, board members say. But there is a much better way to accomplish that goal than by removing Helen Keller, Barry Goldwater or Hillary Clinton from the required curriculum standards. It would be by abolishing the STAAR testing regime or, at least, significantly reducing the amount of time it sucks up from the school day.

I know. The state board isn’t in charge of STAAR testing. The governor and the Legislature are responsible for prolonging that misguided and miserable policy. But if board members really want to give teachers more time to actually teach currculum and not just teach to the test, they should demand that lawmakers drastically reduce the role of STAAR. They could start by writing a letter to the governor and the Legislature.

But despite widespread unhappiness among parents and educators with STAAR, don’t hold your breah that the State Board will take a unified stand against the single biggest curriculum-killer that Texas government has to offer.

Instead, curriculum will continue to be manipulated through a political and ideological lens.

The board at least partially corrected the lie, inserted into the standards in 2010, that slavery was a secondary cause of the Civil War. This time, the board identified slavery as the central cause of the war, but it still promoted the myth that the more-neutral sounding “states’ rights” principal was also to blame. In truth, the only “state right” that provoked secesson was the so-called “right” to own slaves.

Teachers can still teach about Helen Keller, Barry Goldwater and Hillary Clinton. The removal of their names from the standards simply means that teachers won’t be required to include them in their lessons.

In don’t necessarily see partisanship in Helen Keller’s omission, just inexplicability. Keller, who overcame blindness and deafness to publish numerous books, lecture throughout the world and become an inspiration to millions, remains one of the most courageous figures in our nation’s history. Not to teach about her life, her challenges and her accomplishments is a disservice to school children.

I don’t see partisanship in Goldwater’s removal either, although the U.S. senator, Republican presidential nominee and 20th century leader/hero of the conservative movement definitely earned a place in history.

Hillary Clinton’s removal from the curriculum standards, on the other hand, has partisanship written all over it. As the first woman presidential nominee of a major political party, however, her place in history is established, with or without the State Board of Education’s approval.

Carisa Lopez, political director of the Texas Freedom Network, summed up the problem with curriculum decisions in Texas pretty well.

“Once again, we see why politicians rewriting curriculum standards for public schools is just a bad idea,” she said. “You end up with history based on majority vote rather than on facts.”





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