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Fw: Open Letter to the Texas Board of Education

April 18, 2010
From: Emilio Zamora [e.zamora@mail.utexas.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Subject: Open Letter to the Texas Board of Education

Beto,

The recent controversy over the revision of the public school curriculum by the Texas State Board of Education has led me to initiate a campaign in support of an open letter to the Board.  Please post the following note, letter, and the site where people can provide their signature.  The persons who should consider signing are faculty and researchers who incorporate any type of history in their work and that are affiliated with colleges and universities throughout the nation.

The organizing committee includes faculty from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas at El Paso.  The co-chairs are myself and Keith A. Erekson, Department of History, University of Texas at El Paso.

Emilio

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April 12, 2010

Dear Colleagues,

Please read carefully, distribute widely, and consider signing the accompanying “Open Letter to the Texas State Board of Education.”  We invite you to read it and add your name to the list of signatures by visiting http://sensiblehistory.blogspot.com.

The Texas State Board of Education will hold a final public hearing about the standards in the middle of May. Historians at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas at El Paso have drafted the letter for presentation before the hearing.

As you have probably heard from reports in the national media, the Texas State Board of Education is revising the state’s social studies curriculum­, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Though numerous errors are circulating in the media, it is true that a majority of the board has voted to approve a curriculum that minimizes the history and significance of diversity in the state and emphasizes narrow ideological partisanship over broader education and critical thinking. Information about the review process and an online archive of media coverage is available at http://tekswatch.utep.edu.

Open Letter to the Texas State Board of Education
Public schools must provide students with a sound elementary and high school education that prepares them to succeed in college and their future careers. Such a sound education must be fair, accurate and balanced and it must be based on rigorous, mainstream scholarship, not on ideological agendas.

Those of us who teach and conduct research in colleges and universities have grown concerned, however, that social studies curriculum standards in Texas do not meet student needs.  We also believe that the Texas State Board of Education has been derelict in its duty to revise the public school curriculum.  In short, recent proposals by Board members have undermined the study of the social sciences in our public schools by misrepresenting and even distorting the historical record and the functioning of American society.

Some of the problematic revisions that they have proposed include:

·       Weakening the study of constitutional protections for religious liberty that keep government out of matters of faith;
·       Minimizing the struggle of women and ethnic minorities for equal and civil rights;
·       Striking Thomas Jefferson from a world history standard about the influence of Enlightenment thinkers on political changes since the 1700s; and
·       Excluding an important historical figure from Latin America because some board members did not recognize him

The integrity of the curriculum revision process has been compromised and we propose that the Board restore the trust of the public and the academic community by proceeding as follows:

·       Delay the final adoption of social studies curriculum standards;
·       Allow curriculum teams and a new panel of qualified, credentialed content experts from the state’s colleges and universities to review changes that the Board has made and prepare a new draft of the standards that is fair, accurate and balanced;
·       Permit the public to review and comment on the new draft of the standards before final adoption; and
·       Make final changes to the draft of the standards only after public consultation with classroom teachers and scholars who are experts in the appropriate fields of study.

Like all members of the Texas State Board of Education, we have a vested interest in giving our schoolchildren the tools that they need to succeed in college and their future careers. For genuine college and work readiness to occur the Board must adhere to a more transparent, fair, and inclusive process of curriculum revisions, and it must make full and effective use of the faculty and researchers from our colleges and universities in Texas who can offer expert assistance and guidance.

Again, if you wish to add your name to the  list of signatures, visit the following site: http://sensiblehistory.blogspot.com

Thank you for your attention

Emilio Zamora, Professor
Department of History
1 University Station, B7000
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, Texas 78712-0220
512 475-8706
512 739-0168
E.zamora@mail.utexas.edu

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One Comment leave one →
  1. kittyreporter permalink
    October 20, 2010 9:48 pm

    Dear Professor Zamora, Thanks for writing this post. Your comments are extremely important to all parents and concerned citizens because it has been shown that what happens in Texas affects the entire publishing world for textbooks across the U.S. Please write an update about what is going on since your last post. It is horrible that a small group of people are able to whitewash history based on their ideological biases.

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