Educators seek delay on Texas social studies vote
AUSTIN, TX In an open letter made public Thursday, the educators called on the board to delay it's planned May vote until curriculum teams and a panel of qualified, credentialed content experts from the state's colleges and universities can review changes the board made and "prepare a new draft of the standards that is fair, accurate and balanced," the letter says. "The integrity of the curriculum revision process has been compromised," the educators wrote. Last month, the board gave preliminary approval to new standards for grades K-12 after three days of public hearings and contentious debate. A far-right faction of the board succeeded in injecting conservative ideals into social studies, history and economics lessons. The proposed curriculum standards will require teachers to cover the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers, but not highlight the philosophical rationale for the separation of church and state. Curriculum standards also will describe the U.S. government as a "constitutional republic," rather than "democratic," and students will be required to study the decline in value of the U.S. dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard. Many critics, including several Hispanic lawmakers and academic experts, have said the new curriculum minimizes the contributions of minorities. Those behind the open letter include educators from the University of Texas at Austin and UT-El Paso. The co-chairs are Emilio Zamora from UT-Austin and Keith A. Erekson of UTEP. They call on the board to permit a public review and comment period on the new draft before final adoption of the standards. Texas Education Agency spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe, who generally speaks for the State Board of Education, did not immediately respond to a call Thursday seeking comment.