Rewriting History: The Texas Curriculum Debate

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Textbooks in public schools could get some additions soon, including references to God. But is the curriculum debate in Texas going too far?

The Texas State Board of Education will be deciding soon on what to include in its new curriculum. And history is the hottest topic.

The group's decisions will determine what students in the Lone Star State will read in history books for the next 10 years. But the decision also impacts what will be included in textbooks across the nation.

"All of the publishers, really, gear their curriculums for the rest of the country based on what's taking place in Texas," chief cousel for the American Center for Law & Justice explained. "So what happens in Texas on the academic standpoint affects all of the school boards across the United States, pretty much."

The 15-member board has been sharply divided. On Friday, educators battled over issues like how to refer to times in history.

Conservative board members sided with the traditional B.C. or "Before Christ," while more liberal board members pushed for B.C.E., for "Before the Common Era." In the end, B.C. remained.

The phrase "laws of nature and of nature's God" -- which appears in the Declaration of independence -- was also challenged, but eventually kept.

"They are rewriting history. That is the main problem here," Sekulow said. To not mention Paul Revere because it is controversial, to say that saying Merry Christmas is not sensitive, to redefining the Declaration of Independence and the discussion of our early history and our founding because they don't think it is correct. That is the problem with this."

"They need to leave our history alone. It is what it is. It stands on its own," he continued. "And the idea that now you are going to revise it to make it more politically palatable is not only bad law, it is bad history."

A new poll shows nationwide, parents are already upset about what their kids are being taught.

  • 60 percent say textbooks are more concerned with being politically correct than with being accurate.
  • 49 percent don't think textbooks portray U.S. history accurately.
  • Only 28 percent think textbooks give an accurate history of the U.S.

The Texas curriculum battle comes the very same week America moves closer to adopting a national curriculum.

"The fact is that if the administration tries to nationalize the education system, what they are trying to do is get control of that education system," Sekulow said. "Because whoever controls the minds of this young generation, controls the minds of the leaders of the next generation."

It's a plan Texas has rejected in order to remain in control of its own destiny.

Board members will make a final curriculum vote in May.

*Originally published March 11, 2010.

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