Friday, July 17, 2009

History Teaching Controversy in Texas

The Scout Report is a site that finds high quality internet resources and reports on them in a weekly newsletter. Each week they cover one issue in the news in-depth, with several useful links. Here is this week's "In the News" section, about the development of standards for teaching history and social studies in Texas, which is being influenced by several conservative Christian members of the board:

Debates about the content and focus of United States history courses continue on in Texas

The Culture Wars' New Front: U.S. History Classes in Texas

Board of Education may face controversy over new curriculum

Curriculum debate marred by ideologues

Texas Education Agency: Social Studies Expert Reviewers [pdf]

Smithsonian Source: Resources for Teaching American History [Flash Player, pdf]

TeachingAmericanHistory [iTunes, Real Player]

Everything is a bit bigger in Texas, and it would seem that an ongoing debate about what should be taught in history classrooms in the Lone Star State mirrors that particular sentiment. Along with other states, Texas recently approved new science standards that allowed for creationist critiques of evolution, and this current debate revolves around the place of faith in such curricula. Several of the history curriculum reviewers, including one Reverend Peter Marshall, have suggested that the curriculum be modified to emphasize the roles of the Bible, the Christian faith, and the civil virtue of religion. There also appear to be initial divisions about which historical figures should be referenced within such materials. Jesus F. de la Teja, the chairman of the history department at Texas State University, noted that the curriculum should draw on a more diverse set of role models, especially Latinos. Other outside observers have stated that these curriculum analysts should all be trained academics, while other parties remain skeptical of trained historians' emphasis on multiculturalism. This debate has raged on across the country for decades, but it will be interesting to see how things turn out in Texas over the coming months. [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to an article from this Tuesday's Wall Street Journal which addresses some of the ongoing curriculum debates in Texas. Moving on, the second link leads to a recent piece from the Beaumont Enterprise which talks about the Texas State Board of Education's curriculum review process. The third link will whisk users away to a passionate editorial piece on this subject by Jacquielynn Floyd of the Dallas Morning News. The fourth link will take visitors to the initial remarks by the social studies reviewers on the proposed curriculum changes. Teachers of American history will be delighted to learn about the fifth site, which was created by the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies. Here they will find excellent teacher-selected resources, complete with primary documents and lesson plans. Finally, the last link leads to the TeachingAmericanHistory site, which was created by the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University. Here visitors can listen to free lectures, look over lesson plans, and check out their primary document library. [KMG]"

No comments: