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Texas Flunks History

By Kent Chapline, CBSDFW.com
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A student writes during a school lesson on September 4, 2003. (credit: Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

A student writes during a school lesson on September 4, 2003. (credit: Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) - A new report from a conservative* education think-tank rips Texas’ new standards for teaching history, marking them as among the worst in the nation.

The Fordham Institute gave Texas and 28 other states a failing grade (a D or F) in history education.  Only South Carolina got an A from the group, although a few states got an A-minus.

The study looked at the details of each state’s curriculum, how the material is presented, and whether it is taught in a coherent sequence.

Texas’ standards, they said, buck the national trend of liberalism in education and are too far to the right.

The Fordham Institute has graded the states before, but this is the first time since the conservative-dominated State Board of Education rewrote Texas’ social studies curriculum in May, 2010.  Among other changes, the new plan emphasizes what the state board called the influence of religion on America’s founding.  It also downplays the importance of slavery.

Many groups have criticized the curriculum as being historically inaccurate.  The new report agrees.

Here’s an excerpt:

Native Americans, disproportionately discussed in many other states, are almost totally missing. Slavery is downplayed and segregation barely mentioned — omissions pointedly noted by former U.S. education secretary (and Houston superintendent) Rod Paige.  Members of the SBOE also showed themselves determined to inject their personal religious beliefs into history education. “Judeo-Christian (especially biblical law)” and “Moses” are, incredibly, listed as the principal political influences on America’s founders. The separation of church and state, a much-debated and crucial concept in the drafting of the state constitutions (1777–1781) and the federal Constitution (1787), is simply dismissed. (page 15)

Click here to read the report for yourself.

*Editor’s note: To be clear, we call the Fordham Institute “conservative” partly based on what they have previously said about some groups in the field of social studies:

Its leaders were people who had plenty of grand degrees and impressive titles but who possessed no respect for Western civilization; who were inclined to view America’s evolution as a problem for humanity rather than mankind’s last, best hope; who pooh-poohed history’s chronological and factual skeleton as somehow “privileging” elites and white males over the poor and oppressed.

Whether you agree or disagree with it, that’s a conservative viewpoint.  We just want you to know why we’re using that label here.

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