The State Board of Education is meeting this week to finalize changes to social studies curriculum, part of an effort that began 10 months ago in response to teacher feedback that the standards included too much material to cover in a school year.
The Texas State Board of Education backed a motion Tuesday evening to reinsert Hillary Clinton into the state’s 11th-grade U.S. History standards, two months after voting to remove the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee from the state’s curriculum. In a separate action Tuesday, the board backed restoring disability rights advocate Helen Keller to the state’s third-grade social studies curriculum standards.
Clinton’s deletion from the high school U.S. history curriculum appeared likely to stand Tuesday, as she was not mentioned during the public hearing of the board’s Tuesday meeting. But after a lengthy discussion, the board voted 12-2 to back a motion to reinsert Clinton into the curriculum. A final vote on the issue will come Friday.
In response to a motion by Board Member Erika Beltran, D-Fort Worth, to reinsert Clinton into the standards, fellow Board member Marty Rowley, R-Amarillo, referenced “tons of public comment” that he’d received before Tuesday’s meeting. “I don’t agree, obviously, with her politics,” said Rowley. “I just think she qualifies as significant.“
The state board is meeting this week to finalize the changes to social studies curriculum, part of a streamlining effort that began 10 months ago in response to teacher feedback that the standards included too much material to cover in a school year. Work groups made up of teachers, historians and curriculum experts were tasked with cutting repetitive and unnecessary requirements out of the social studies standards. The board was set to take preliminary votes on the changes Tuesday after an afternoon discussion.
After hours of public testimony Tuesday, the board approved amendments restoring references to Keller and the importance of Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, in World War II.
Gabrielle Caldwell, a 17-year-old deaf-blind student, testified before the board with her mother, Robbie, urging board members to reconsider striking Helen Keller’s name from the standards.
“Without broad academic knowledge of Helen Keller, deaf-blind students like my daughter cease to exist,” said Robbie Caldwell, a member of the Deaf-Blind Multihandicapped Association of Texas, a disability rights advocacy group for parents of disabled children.