Members of the Texas State Board of Education heard from an angry mother on Tuesday who said that first graders should not learn about Mahatma Gandhi because she believes it's part of critical race theory.
At a meeting to discuss the social studies curriculum for K-12 students, one woman identified herself as a mother named Jenna.
"You refer to our flag, bonnets and mockingbirds as a significant symbol to a Texas community," the mother opined. "No, these are emblems of identity and instill pride and connection with our home."
She said that learning about "the importance of collaborating with various cultures" was inappropriate because children should learn about their own "culture" first.
"This revision wants to teach a first grader who is still putting notes to the tooth fairy under her pillow about following Gandhi's lead to a peaceful protest," Jenna gasped. "A first grader! CRT is already rampant and baked into our curriculum and we don't want to be good little global citizens where our borders are considered a military zone."
"It's a border and it's good!" she exclaimed. "Teach that. This is the land of the free, home of the brave. Be brave!"
State Board of Education Member Marisa B. Perez-Diaz observed that the witness had been unable to point to specific Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) that contain the standards that she was complaining about.
"Be specific about what you're talking about so that we understand that you actually have a legitimate concern or it's not something you're just hearing and reading and repeating," Perez-Diaz advised. "I guess I want to understand what on the history of how borders were created do you know about?"
"I'm not an expert," Jenna shot back. "I don't appreciate your, um, belittling. I didn't come here with a Ph.D. and I didn't come up here as an educator or somebody on one of these work groups. I'm coming up here as a parent."
Perez-Diaz insisted that she was not belittling the parent.
"You just told our chair that you'd read it somewhere or you heard it, you don't know," the board member explained. "And that is not a belittling. I'm just acknowledging what you have yourself said."
Perez-Diaz added: "My point in asking you the question about borders is that is a clear example of why we need the standards the way that they have been written because this country did not always have borders. This country, we're sitting on stolen land."
Members of the audience erupted at the mention of "stolen land," forcing the chair to call for quiet.
"That isn't something that is in the standards," Perez-Diaz noted. "But what is in the standards is understanding our indigenous roots and understanding how indigenous communities have been impacted and those sorts of pieces of our history are very important."
"And so, again, I ask, what do you remember about learning about indigenous histories?" she wondered.
"I don't remember very much about indigenous histories," the witness admitted. "I'm sorry I can't answer your question about what I learned about indigenous communities and the border. I know our border is open right now and thousands are flooding over!"
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