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White wants to “undo some of the damage” the SBOE has done to social studies

Lord knows, there’s a lot of it to undo. Bill White wants to start with changing the Chair.

Some Texans have called for a limited review to address some of the more controversial standards that will influence new history, government, geography and economics textbooks for 4.8 million public school children. Only the board chairman sets the agenda, and the governor chooses that leader — currently Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas.

The board appointed academic experts, historians and teachers to recommend new social studies textbooks but then did a massive rewriting by considering some 400 amendments.

“Obviously, I would pick a chair who would try to undo some of the damage that is being done as quickly as we can,” White said. “We should have standards which reflect the views of professional educators and historians and respect the integrity of that process rather than injecting political ideology in the classroom — regardless where that ideology came in the political spectrum.”

Burka thinks White needs to go farther than that – he think White needs to call on the Lege to throw out what the SBOE has done and start the process over. Some legislators, like State Rep. Mike Villarreal, are talking about that possibility, while groups like the Mexican American Legislative Caucus and the House Black Caucus have threatened to withhold funding for the new textbooks. I’ll say this much, the more you can tie Perry to the clown show, and the more you can put him in the position of having to defend or back away from what they’ve done, the better.

And as long as we’re pushing back on the crazy things the SBOE has done, let’s push back on this bit of sophistry:

David Bradley, R-Beaumont, a leader among the board’s socially conservative members, recalls that his side lost by a lopsided margin when the social studies standards were last rewritten in 1999.

“It’s over. Ten years ago we were not on the prevailing side. The liberals won and the conservatives lost. We didn’t hold press conferences and call for a reconsideration or appeal to the Legislature,” he said.

But those standards hardly caused a ripple 11 years ago. More than 40,000 people offered comments on this year’s proposal, and more than 1,200 historians from across the country expressed their objections. Many minority organizations also spoke out. Minority children now make up more than 66 percent of the public school enrollment, and the new curriculum standards were approved by the board’s 10 Republicans — all of whom are white. The board’s five Democrats, all minorities, voted against the document.

The difference between ten years ago and now is that nobody, not even Bradley, is claiming that the Board at that time replaced widely accepted facts with politically slanted nonsense. In fact, Bradley’s complaint is that his preferred set of politically slanted nonsense didn’t get any traction in 1999, and so now that there are enough Board members who want to see that particular worldview pushed on Texas’ students, they’re doing it. The truth isn’t what matters, because the majority on the Board gets to decide what the truth is.

Finally, note that while the SBOE is usually described as being evenly divided between the wingnuts and the moderates, all three supposed Republican moderates voted with the wingnuts in the end. Sounding like a moderate means nothing if you don’t vote like one. When there’s a choice between someone who tries to sound like a moderate and someone who genuinely is one, don’t be fooled by soothing words. Actions count for much more.

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