LatinaLista -- On the heels of Arizona abolishing ethnic studies curriculum for their students, the final phase of the next most controversial action against ethnic contributions to state and national history is about to take place.
On Wednesday, May 19, numerous representatives of the Latino community will give testimony in Austin, Texas as to why the Social Studies curriculum, as recommended by the Texas State Board of Education committee, should not be allowed to go forward without correcting a number of omissions, notably ethnic contributions to the historical development of the state of Texas and the nation.
Texas State Rep. Norma Chavez explains in a well-written op-ed some of the failures of this extremely conservative group attempting to rewrite history, a portion of which reads:
The initial draft proposal included bizarre recommendations such as the deletion of Susan B. Anthony and Rosa Parks and the inclusion of Oprah Winfrey and Mary Kay Ash. Ann Richards was required to be taught in fourth grade; Hillary Clinton was not recommended.
High-school students are required to understand the effects of political scandal including the impeachment of Bill Clinton and Watergate but not required to review Richard Nixon.
LULAC is required to be taught in seventh grade, but the NAACP is not required to be taught at all. And the civil-rights movement was denoted as having "detrimental social consequences."
The current leaders of the SBOE claim that their changes will "balance" the curriculum but anything that refers to the civil rights movement as having "detrimental social consequences" pretty much exposes the agenda of this small group endowed with too much power.
And the leader of the group, dentist Dr. Don McLeroy, isn't finished yet. He's stated that he will propose at least nine more amendments at this week's board meetings to be included in the final vote which takes place on Friday, May 19. That underhanded action makes it convenient for him since there won't be any time given for public comment, and there's a tendency by the Board to pass whatever Dr. McLeroy proposes.
Though no one testifying in Wednesday's proceedings really expects their testimony to make an impact on the conservative bloc of this group, there are other things happening that have been forced into action because of the SBOE's stance that can give hope to those fighting for a true balance in retelling Texas history.
For example, a call has been made by the ACLU of Texas for the SBOE members to be investigated for abuse of power. A report was issued by the ACLU showing the "Board's long-running abuse of power, which began in the mid-1990s. From manipulating textbook content to inserting personal ideological beliefs into Texas' curriculum standards...."
The Democratic nominee for Texas governor, Bill White, has called on the SBOE to halt their vote - they won't.
And several lawmakers have "threatened to withhold funding for textbooks, reduce the board's authority and request that newly elected board members revisit the curriculum process when they take office in January."
If there is a bright spot to this attempt to "whitewash" Texas history, it's that the man spearheading the effort, Dr. McLeroy, is serving his last term as a SBOE member. As of January 2011, he will no longer be on the Board. So, it's not really surprising he's trying to leave his mark on the Texas school curriculum by working overtime this week to add more amendments.
Yet, what every good student and scholar of history knows is that history rewritten from the vantage point of the victor, or those in power, never lasts long before the truth is rediscovered and corrections are made.
And once this new curriculum is passed, and it will, it won't be long before corrections are made to both the curriculum content, as well as, the process of who gets to decide what students learn in school.
In this age of increasing transparency and accountability, the notion that U.S. history can be rewritten to create an alternate reality is -- futile and estupido.