Introduction to the Feature
Keith A. Erekson is an assistant professor of history at the University of Texas at El Paso where he directs the department’s history and social studies secondary teacher education program and the university’s Center for History Teaching & Learning. He is an award-winning historian, teacher, and teacher educator who specializes in public history, history education, and popular interest in the past. He also oversees the TEKSWatch website (http://tekswatch.utep.edu), a volunteer-based public information service that monitors the Texas social studies revision process.
For nearly a year and a half, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) has overseen a process of revising the state’s social studies standards—the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). The process has rightfully gained national attention, as the results will not only reshape the entire Texas social studies curriculum but also reverberate outward to every school district that seeks to buy textbooks and to every college or business populated by Texas high school graduates.
We have watched this process unfold as first committees of educators and scholars made revisions and then expert reviewers offered recommendations (one of us served in a formal review capacity). We watched with growing concern as the SBOE turned its back on a process of informed and collaborative revision to one marked by secrecy and last-minute changes. After the SBOE finally publicized their proposed changes in mid-April, we have carefully read them and here offer our measured analysis that was first presented to the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas State Legislature. We identify specific places where small changes should be made, but we also point out much larger and more significant problems, including flimsy philosophies of historical education, glaring omissions in understanding, and an embarrassingly total disregard for helping students prepare for life in college and the work place. Collectively, we find the proposed Texas social studies curriculum to be:
- Michael Soto: Plagiarized Work
- Jesús F. de la Teja: An Almost Impossibly Large Set of Standards Produced by a Problematic Process
- Emilio Zamora: A Pattern of Neglect and a Missed Opportunity
- Iliana Alanís: A Culturally Irrelevant History of"Melodramatic Minutiae"
- Keith A. Erekson: An Overstuffed Laundry List that Treats Seniors like Kindergartners
- Roberto R. Calderón: A Sanitized History
- Kirsten Gardner: An Incomplete Version of the Past that Silences Important Struggles
Some members of the SBOE have erroneously inflated their efforts into a cosmic struggle between good and evil, conservatives and liberals. We reject that narrative and instead see the process for what it really is: a Texas school board updating the work of its predecessor. By rejecting the overblown politicized narrative, we hope to refocus public attention on that which truly matters—the education of millions of Texas school children over the coming decade.
Editor's Note: John Willingham's The God in Whom We Should Trust, although not affiliated with the aforementioned pieces, is included in this feature due to its relevance.
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George E. Rennar - 5/10/2010
Gosh. It really must be a bad situation, since this "news" network was unable to come up with a single Texan historian who disagrees with multi-culti totalitarianism.