Obama's Middle Name Ignites Textbook Battle





Who's more important: Christopher Columbus or John Smith?

Clara Barton or Ruby Bridges?

Ruby Bridges or Dolores Huerta?

Is the story of Nathan Hale too gruesome for first graders?

Will history books refer to the 44th American president as Barack Obama, Barack H. Obama or Barack Hussein Obama?

Late into the night, the Texas Board of Education considered these and other questions for the state’s social studies curriculum. The debate has set off a culture war, pitting conservatives against democrats in a battle that attracted 40,000 e mails from parents, teachers and academics from around the nation.

The curriculum covers grades kindergarten through high school, and yet after 12 hours of debate the board had only just begun talking about its biggest challenge – high school standards – at 9 p.m. Thursday.

All day long the board dropped, added and swapped the names of historical figures and events into and out of the standards. It began with 1st graders. John Smith was dropped, as was Nathan Hale, not because he wasn’t important, but because, according to one teacher, ‘the kids couldn’t get past the hanging.’...

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