The Texas Board of Education, which recently approved new science standards that made room for creationist critiques of evolution, is revising the state's social studies curriculum. In early recommendations from outside experts appointed by the board, a divide has opened over how central religious theology should be to the teaching of history.Keep in mind that the Texas Board of Education is not a meager influence on the academics of the rest of the country, as Texas is a third of the textbook market. Since textbook companies don't want to have many differences in copies, what happens in Texas to some extent affects the rest of the nation:
Three [of six] reviewers, appointed by social conservatives, have recommended revamping the K-12 curriculum to emphasize the roles of the Bible, the Christian faith and the civic virtue of religion in the study of American history. Two of them want to remove or de-emphasize references to several historical figures who have become liberal icons, such as César Chávez and Thurgood Marshall.
"We're in an all-out moral and spiritual civil war for the soul of America, and the record of American history is right at the heart of it," said Rev. Peter Marshall, a Christian minister and one of the reviewers appointed by the conservative camp.
Three other reviewers, all selected by politically moderate or liberal members of the board, recommended less-sweeping changes to the existing curriculum. But one suggested including more diverse role models, especially Latinos, in teaching materials. "We have tended to exclude or marginalize the role of Hispanic and Native American participants in the state's history," said Jesús F. de la Teja, chairman of the history department at Texas State University. (emphasis mine)
The standards that the school board eventually settles on won't dictate day-to-day lesson plans; that is up to individual teachers. But they will offer clear guidelines for educators -- and also for publishers.Given the debate over displaying the Ten Commandments on governmental property, this, to me, is a derivative argument. The argument is similar: the Bible and the faith of the Founding Fathers has had a lasting affect on the greatness of this nation, and the lack of recognition to these historical "truths" is naive. Naturally, strict adherents to the separation of church and state, me included, will argue against the intrusion of theology into public classrooms.
Nearly every state has its own curriculum standards, and there are scores of social studies texts to choose from at most grade levels, so what happens in Texas won't necessarily affect other states. But the Texas market is huge, so most big publishers aggressively seek approval from the board, in some cases adopting the majority's editing suggestions nearly verbatim. (emphasis mine)