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Democrats Furious After Texas Schools Explained Why They Removed Hillary Clinton From the History Curriculum
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Democrats Furious After Texas Schools Explained Why They Removed Hillary Clinton From the History Curriculum

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AUSTIN, TEXAS — September 21, 2018

Texas again decided to revise its curriculum on history, removing all the 'minor' figures and events and added what was “missing.” Now history curriculum will remember the Alamo but could soon forget Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller.

As part of an effort to "streamline" the social studies curriculum in public schools, the State Board of Education voted Friday to adjust what students in every grade are required to learn in the classroom. Among the changes, board members approved the removal of several historical figures, including Clinton and Keller, from the curriculum.

The board also voted to keep in the curriculum a reference to the 'heroism' of the defenders of the Alamo, which had been recommended for elimination, as well as Moses' influence on the writing of the nation's founding documents, multiple references to "Judeo-Christian" values and a requirement that students explain how the "Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to “ongoing conflict" in the Middle East.

The vote was preliminary but the board is going to amend the curriculum changes further before taking a final vote in November.

Figures and events that are going to be excluded from the education program include the following:

●      The phrase "describe the optimism of the many immigrants who sought a better life in America" in a section on "social issues affecting women, minorities, children, immigrants, and urbanization."

●      Former US Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton;

●      Public figure Helen Keller, who despite being deaf and blind graduated from college and lived a life of activism and authorship.

●      English philosopher Thomas Hobbes;

●      Republican Senator and presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. A workgroup tasked with the curriculum streamlining also recommended removing evangelist and Baptist pastor Billy Graham, but the state board kept him.

The working group, which made recommendations to change the curriculum, also proposed to remove from the list of important historical figures, for example, the Baptist Pastor Billy Graham, but the State Board of Education members didn't support this initiative

The idea of excluding Hillary Clinton from the program came from Barbara Cargill, a Republican board member from Houston and former chairwoman, and the board agreed.

"In speaking to teachers, they did not mention these specific deletions," she said.

In particular, the board members noted that students had been required to learn about Clinton, who was the first woman to win a major political party's presidential nomination, in history class but this is no longer the case -- as Clinton didn't become the President.

In addition, under a section about citizenship, students were assigned to "evaluate the contributions of significant political and social leaders in the United States" including Clinton, Andrew Carnegie, Thurgood Marshall, and Sandra Day O'Connor.

Removing all these figures from the curriculum doesn't forbid them from being taught but just means they're no longer mandatory subjects. Also, the streamlining of the curriculum won't affect textbooks or other instructional material, which the board is not updating at this time.

After such a controversial cut-off of some political figures, journalists decided to hold a meeting with school teachers to learn more about why Keller and Clinton, in particular, were removed from the history curriculum.

Both teachers said that firstly, the state required students to learn about so many historical figures that it resulted in rote memorization of dates and names instead of real learning.

Secondly, the 15-member work group came up with a rubric for grading every historical figure by ranking who was 'essential' to learn and who wasn’t. The formula asked questions like: "Did the person trigger a watershed change"; "Was the person from an underrepresented group"; and "Will their impact stand the test of time?"

Out of 20 points, Keller scored a 7 and Clinton scored a 5. Eliminating Clinton from the requirements will save teachers 30 minutes of instructional time, the work group estimated, and eliminating Keller will save 40 minutes.

In the preponderance of historical figures were such personalities as Barbara Jordan, Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, and Henry B. González. President Donald Trump isn't included in the list by name, but students are required to learn about the current president, governor, and mayor.

Earlier this year, the workgroup split up and each subgroup took a set of figures to grade using the rubric, said the two teachers, who both stated they allegedly wanted to keep politics out of the decisions.

"There were hundreds of people" kids had to learn about, Misty Matthews, a teacher in Round Rock, told The News. "Our task was to simplify. ... We tried to make it as objective as possible."

However, as we see it didn't work. While one of the board members allegedly imperceptibly said that Clinton was really excluded because she could not win the presidential race, others are now actively trying to hide behind the fact that they are supposedly far from politics. Yet, what is truly interesting is that she was, in fact, an active supporter of the Republicans Party.

Jana Poth also explained that the workgroup did "not want to offend anyone" with its choices, "But there are too many [figures]," she said.

"Third-graders, for example, are required to learn about three dozen figures. Fourth-graders have to learn about 69, and in eighth grade, when students take the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness social studies test, they must learn about 50 historical figures," she said.

Neither Poth nor Matthews said she was in the small group that made the decisions about Clinton and Keller. In a note next to the deletion from the third-grade social studies curriculum in which Keller was included in a lesson about "the characteristics of good citizenship," the work group wrote, "Helen Keller does not best represent the concept of citizenship. Military and first responders are best represented."

There was no others comment next to the recommendation to remove Clinton. Students in that grade are still required to learn about former President Bill Clinton's impeachment.

It is known that each other year the board discusses and debates new classroom standards for Texas' 5.4 million schoolchildren. Its members, currently five Democrats and 10 Republicans, are elected to four-year terms and represent specific geographic areas.

The board's process has always garnered attention — and often controversy. Five years ago, members clashed over whether science books should have to teach an alternative to evolution. In 2014, math standards were revised, drawing criticism from parents and teachers. And earlier this year, a new Mexican-American studies course was the subject of the latest culture war.

Many of the work group's recommendations that were rejected by the board dealt with descriptions of the nation's "Judeo-Christian" heritage. Texas Values, a conservative Christian political advocacy group, sent representatives before the board this week to speak out against removing the descriptions. On Friday, they applauded the board's decision to keep them.

"In Texas, you don't mess with the Alamo and you don't mess with our Christian heritage. We applaud the majority of the State Board of Education for doing the right thing by restoring our foundational rights and history," Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz said in a statement. "We are prepared to fight to protect these standards all the way to the end."

Others criticized the board's vote as well. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Chris Turner urged board members to add Clinton and Keller back into the curriculum.

"If Helen Keller was an important historical figure when I was in school (and she was), then she still is today," tweeted Turner, D-Grand Prairie. "Clinton is the 1st and only woman to be the presidential nominee of a major party in U.S. history. Enough said."

Traditionally, Republicans and Governor Greg Abbott supported the new version of the school program with a focus on Judeo-Christian values.

Below is a complete list of the changes to the school curriculum:

Grade 1

•          Replace San Jacinto Day with Constitution Day in a section on "the origins of customs, holidays, and celebrations of the community, state, and nation" (the Battle of San Jacinto is taught in fourth-grade social studies and high school U.S. history).

Grade 3

•          Remove Helen Keller from section on "citizenship."

Grade 4

•          Remove Poteet Strawberry Festival from a section on "customs, celebrations, and traditions of various cultural, regional, and local groups in Texas."

•          Remove the phrase "such as holding public officials to their word" from a requirement that students learn "how individuals can participate voluntarily in civic affairs at state and local levels" (this phrase was removed from fourth grade for "not being grade appropriate" and from third grade for "redundancy." However, it is still included in the first-grade social studies curriculum).

Grade 5

•          Amend section on the Civil War to recognize the "central role of the expansion of slavery in causing the Civil War and other contributing factors including sectionalism and states' rights." Previous language included a list of factors, among them slavery and states' rights.

Grade 7

•          Reinsert requirement to learn about the William B. Travis letter and reference to "the heroism of the diverse defenders who gave their lives" at the Alamo. (The work group had recommended cutting them.)

U.S. Government (High School)

The work group had recommended these be removed.

•          Reinsert references to "Judeo-Christian (especially biblical law)" in a section on "major intellectual, philosophical, political, and religious traditions that informed the American founding."

•          Reinsert the biblical figure of Moses and remove Thomas Hobbes from a section on "individuals whose principles of laws and government institutions informed the American founding."

World History (High School)

The work group had recommended these be removed.

•          Reinsert reference to "German invasions of Poland and the Soviet Union, the Holocaust, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Normandy landings, and the dropping of the atomic bombs" from section on "the major causes and events of World War II." Remove "Japanese imperialism" from that list.

•          Reinsert "Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict" in section on "the rise of independence movements in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia and reasons for ongoing conflicts."

•          Reinsert reference to "the Judeo-Christian legal tradition" in a section on "the development of democratic-republican government from its beginnings."

U.S. History from 1877 (High School)

•          Remove the phrase "describe the optimism of the many immigrants who sought a better life in America" in a section on "social issues affecting women, minorities, children, immigrants, and urbanization."

•          Reinsert a reference to "eugenics" in a section on "causes and effects of events and social issues such as immigration, Social Darwinism, the Scopes Trial, race relations, nativism, the Red Scare, Prohibition, and the changing role of women."

•          Add Dolores Huerta to a section on "significant leaders who supported various rights movements, including Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez" and more.

•          Remove Hillary Clinton from a section on "the contributions of significant political and social leaders in the United States such as Andrew Carnegie, Thurgood Marshall, Billy Graham" and more

Author: USA Really