Texas Flunks History

By Kent Chapline, CBSDFW.com

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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  • Iam Skycake

    Of course Texas flunks ! According to the christian right – the world is 4500 years old and Thomas Jefferson was a bystander.

    Give the right some more rope and we’ll all become Idiocracy – ya know – it’s got electrolytes.

    • Lisa

      hilarious, but that is a very real possibility…which is very sad.

  • Misuse of label!

    Dear editor, if you think this is a consrvative group, I have beach front property in Arizona I would like to sale to you. You will need to share it with some illegal aliens, but they are also a conservative group ” based on what some of them said about some of the people”. They consevre our resources for them selves, kinda like that group from Washington DC you call conservative ” based on what they had previously said about about some groups in the field of social studies’. PLEASE bring back responsible journalism, PLEASE!

  • P. R. Garrett

    Apparently, the witless members of the Texas State Board of Education are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past!

    • steve

      You are correct P.R. Children are NOT being educated in public schools today. They are being drilled on how to pass a TAKS test, so that the NEA and the Texas Board of Uneducation can look good. Children will NOT sit and learn on their own. You cannot throw TAKS test drills up in the air and just hope for the best. Children want and need discipline and limits. They want to know where the line is drawn, because they are taught about Right and Wrong when they are young. One other item, is that some of the failures can be placed squarely on the shoulders of ILLEGAL ALIENS in our schools, who functionaly illiterate in English. Theys peak spnish real well, but have no incentive to learn English, because they get a FREE pass.

      • Claudell

        Get real. What else are you going to blame on “Illegal Aliens”? Our public school system is in the tank because of people like those on the Texas school board that allowed the reviesed text books to be changed to meet their beliefs and remove the real truth. Glad someone is letting the truth be told.

  • Wyatt Earp

    I hope they don’t start that new program that will have our kids learning Arabic language and Arabic culture. I’ll pull mine out and home school before I put up with that KRAP.

    • Katie Janzen

      Why? I’m taking a night school course in Arabic, it’s a beautiful language and the many arab cultures are quite fascinating. Children should never be discouraged from learning about new cultures and languages, otherwise they’ll turn out to be bigoted morons who make sweeping generalizations about entire groups of people and fail to recognize the flaws of their own nation/culture.

    • Susan Winters

      Mr Earp I would be willing to bet that your childrens homeschool uniforms will be pointed white hats and long white robs.

      For the record those courses were supposed to be an elective just like those nasty bible courses the Teapartiers are shoving off on the school population.

      • chaos

        Not only that, it was a program awarded to the school. It amazes me to watch how little some have evolved…

    • Kitty

      You do realize that there is no official language in this country. That means we could teach any language we want to. Get over it. People like you are the ones that needed that kind of program when you were in school to make you less ignorant about other cultures that you know nothing about.

  • Christopher L. Pittman

    duh…it was obvious the state was going way off course last year when selecting their version of history — but we keep electing the same people to get the the same results. I am appalled at what my kids bring home as “history” – luckily some teachers help curb the obvious right wing bend of the textbooks…but its difficult.

  • Glenn

    Texas is always looking forward. Only look back for reference and lessons.

  • Lynn

    One viewpoint doesn’t make a label, ALL of the group’s opinions have to be taken into consideration before calling them conservative or liberal.

    With all due respect to the editor, no matter the reasoning behind it, only one viewpoint was used to make the label. At the very least it shows ignorance of the topic, at worst it’s a deliberate attempt to alter the story.

    • Susan Winters

      ignoring the existance of Native Americans and downplaying slavery is a huge show of ignorance and hatred.

      • Lynn

        That’s not what I’m commenting on, I’m commenting on the article author making a unnecessary judgment call with only one source to back it up. Now if you want to make a cheap shot go ahead, be my guest. Just realize that actual facts go a long way in debates.

    • CDizard

      If you actually read the editor’s note, you would realize that the excerpt cited was PARTLY what the conservative title was based on. The note clearly states that it was not based on one viewpoint, but gives one viewpoint as an example.

      Did you go to school in Texas?

      • Lynn

        They failed to cite any further points to back up their claim, I had to Google the institute to find out more info on them.

        Again, I’m not even beginning to touch what the article is based on. I’m pointing out that the author and the editor are not following proper procedure when it comes to writing news stories, they have to be able to back up what they’re saying or move the article into the opinion section.

  • don

    how do you pick HISTORY…..

  • Josh

    Looks like Texas gets an A+ from me. A true conservative and Texan!

    • Claudell

      Josh, you should be an american first and want the true history taugh to the children.

    • Bill C

      You had me Steve, right up until you started spouting the BS about the Illegal Aliens. Try getting a life, wouldja?

  • Worried Mom

    It’s not just the text books. It’s also the teachers. My son’s AP American History teacher told the class one of the primary reasons the South lost the Civil War was because they did not have a Navy! I took her a rather large book on the Confederate Navy and informed her they even had a submarine. She was truly dumbfounded by the news…and had no business teaching a history class, much less an AP class.

    • Sonny

      Tell that teacher to turn her license in. She is stupid! The reason the South lost the Civil War was because when they lost the Battle of Gettysburg, they were forced to retreat. They were out of supplies and getting low on money. They did not have the money or the manufacturing capabilities to keep up with the North. Even with Navy, they would not have won the war. The South sold cotton and tobacco for money plus the arms making facilities were all in the north.

  • bartley

    The answer is to elect more republicans

    • history teacher

      No its not and I’m republican. Our problems with curriculum and budget cuts start at the governors chair. We need to elect leaders who CARE about education: democrats or republicans!

      • Science Teacher

        Well said, history teacher!

      • student teacher

        Thank you. Another big thing this state needs to do is make a degree in education a requirement to be on the Texas State Board of Education. Dentists have no business on this board.

      • vs

        Excuse me student teacher….Dentist have a very advanced degree. They definitely know more then you do. May father is a dentist and he can tell you quote history “like the back of his hand”. He lived history. His family has roots from many races. His brother faught in WWII, he has American Indian backgroung, African American roots and many other valuable lessons of the past.

        It would seem to me that having an “Education Degree” would be the worse degree to have to represent the “BOE”, you were trained by teachers who were bias in their teaching. Every history teacher I have ever had has been bias and taught what they wanted you to learn. No way would I want an Education Degree representative!

      • bonddanibond

        vs, I’m sure your father is very smart in dentistry and history. But he studied for 8-ish years to be a dentist. Educators, good ones, study for 8-ish years to teach. That education includes the discussion of epistemology and the origin of knowledge, so that teachers know fact from fiction from uncertainty and can create appropriate curriculum and discussions from that knowledge. They also study how children learn.

        Teachers are a different type of professional than dentists, doctors, and lawyers, but they are still professionals in their own field and should have a the control in that field. Would it be appropriate for a orally knowledgeable biology teacher to sit on a board of dentists? Show some respect.

        Nobody is so smart that they can so it all. Your father has learned a trade, dentristry, and needs others who are equally or more skilled in business, accounting, and law to succeed. Trying to do it all or trying to control a field you haven’t studied or really experienced is just arrogant.

  • L.D. Smith

    Your PC is showing! While there are some things that are understated and underemphasized, that will be true of EVERY textbook. In case you haven’t notice, the Bible, the Judeo-Christian teaching and tradition, and “Mose” had an immeasurable impact on early America and the founding fathers. I am concerned that this OFTEN goes unnoticed–it’s probably even missing from the history teaching of many states other than Texas. This report is ludicrous.

    • Sonny

      This is why Texas is the stupidest state in the nation because of people like you. The Bible, Judeo-Christian and Moses did not have an “immeasurable” impacton the Founding Fathers. If it did, they would not have given a “Freedom of religion”. They were Christians and believed in God but they wanted a country where religion did not control them. DUH!!

  • Dr. John Reyes

    The great thing about science and history is that they are true even if you don’t believe it. Slavery existed, the native americans were executited for there land, and our founding fathers were mostly athiest who didn’t believe that god had a place in a free government. That is tree no matter what Glenn Beck makes up.

    • Texan

      Sad that you are a “Dr.” Looks like you should have paid more attention in English.

    • Mark

      To Dr. John Reyes, it also depends on interpretation. Historians can never get it “exactly right.” Who, for example, is a “founding father”? I’ve heard this “atheist” argument for a long time, but I haven’t been able to find any evidence of this. I see many deistic and early proto-liberal Christian comments from some of the Revolutionary leaders and Constitution framers. However, most of them believed in god as a real force; god for them was not as personally involved in the world, as say, evangelical Christians might believe. If the “founders,” are Jefferson, Paine, and Ethan Allen, then even these deists were not atheists. Am I wrong?

    • Betty

      what the heck kind of dr. are you? You are certainly illiterate.

  • Dr. John Reyes

    Im sorry about the spelling errors in my last post.

  • Sonny

    First of all, Texas doesn’t care about education. They only care about high school football!! I live in Texas but came from CT due to the fact that I hate the cold and Texas does take care of their veterans. But let’s face reality, Texas is the stupidest state in the nation, except for maybe Florida. Texas has no money to buy books and computers or education materials. But they have $30M high school football stadiums!!
    We all know the Founding Fathers were NOT atheists. They all believed in God but if you read the Constituion word for word it says, “Congress shall make no law …”. All that means is the Federal Government can not force a religion upon you. All the amendments were for individual rights. So they were not atheists and there was no “seperation of church and state”. The word “God” is in the Declaration of Independence.
    Slavery was an issue and we all know that. That’s the main reason for the Civil War. And we all know we kicked the Native Americans off their lands.
    But Texas is a Christian state and don’t care about the minorities here. They have the “Good Ol’ Boy” network in the government. I’m white and am willing to admit that. They don’t want minorities to be educated here.

  • Sorry ,bout my state

    Right you are. I grew up in Texas and lived there for many years. Only when I moved away did I realize that Texas wasn’t the center of the known universe and how backward it is. It galls Texas to admit to any kind of mistake, much less to recognize that it is only one of fifty states. Hell, they even want to leave the Union. Let ’em I say. Then see how far President Perry, racism, and poor education get them.

  • Sonny

    First of all, NO ONE knows how this world started! NO ONE!!!! There are the two theories – God created us or the Theory of Evolution. There is more scientific fact that the Theory of Evolution is true and religion is only a faith. But, as I said, NO ONE knows!
    What all schools need to do is to teach BOTH theories. Then when a child grows into an adult then he/she can make their own decision. This way BOTH sides will finally shut the F up!
    John Wayne once said “Life is tough but it’s especially tough if you’re stupid”. And people who are closed-minded and won’t listen to the other side of the coin are STUPID!!!
    Plus Texas is the where the most stupid white people in America live. And yes, I’m white.

    • me

      I agree. The world and Texas would be a better place if people were more open minded. We shouldn’t fear each other’s differences but embrace them and learn from them.

  • michael frank

    There is no sense in educating the brick layers and trash men. Their daddys will teach them all they need to know. Meanwhile there is a game to get ready for. Anyhow, Obama can just send them to what ever school they are qualified for. Just don’t take my kid’s seat.

  • Faye

    For years our history books have been changed by all sorts of groups that wanted their views of history interjected into the Texas school books. The books are gone over line by line and involves more attention than most of federal government put in the Bills and Mandates they pass. This last year an effort was made to set history right. They may not have included enough of what you wanted, but books can only be so big and the time to teach is limited. I am sure there are other books available in the school libraries that fill in any blanks. It needs to be American History and Texas History from American’s and Texan’s point of view, just as each other country and state has its history. If Texas does not care about education why do so many great and influential people came from, or were educated in Texas? I bet all of you that are putting Texas down wish that you lived in the greatest state in the nation. Maybe you need to check the history books your states are using.

  • Star

    Well , after reading this article and subsequent comments , I must say there is some truth in the fact that history was rewritten in the past toward liberalism.
    Our forefathers were not atheists..ever.. the reason they wanted a separation of church and state was to prevent our government from dictating or creating one religion. Americans had fought the British for our freedom and we did not want a King or Queen dictating to us. At that time England , France , Spain, etc. all had their religions dictated by who ruled. Most were Catholic but England had created the Church of England because one of their Kings.had a disagreement with the Pope regarding marriage and divorce among other things. Check it out. That would be a great history review. Many people came to America for Freedom of Religion or freedom from Debtors prison. Many were indentured to get here.They chose to become Americans and to learn Engliish and pursue a new life. Was it easy?..No Way.. Did they receive all the perks people get today?.. No..They worked their butts off and created a better life for their children over generations and came from many countries. Only 2 groups could have a truly valid complaint ..the original Africans because of being forcibly brought here and the Indians because their land was taken away forcibly. People forget that it was many Black Africans who sold and benefitted from selling humans. Was it right?.No it wasn’t , but it wasn’t you.
    Not one person living today can blame their failures on what their ancestors
    went through or what was done in the 17 or 1800″s. I am part Cherokee and Choctaw. I am also English, Irish, Scottish and Hungarian. Most of all I am fully an American. I often say I am an original American. My successes or failures are mine not my ancestors or yours. I want nothing from you because of pity or because some of my ancestors walked the Trail of Tears. I honor them by being the best I can and standing tall. So put that in your pipe and smoke it if you dare. Take responsibility for yourself and what you make of your life. Stop blaming everyone else and believing every one owes you something. The Civil War is over.The South paid dearly for their beliefs and lost everything except the fortitude to work hard. Stop rehashing the war. All you succeed in doing is creating animosity and causing new forms of discrimination by shoving your self righteousness down the throats of people who have never harmed you or thought of harming you until you slandered them.You now have special privileges, months of history , colleges , and organizations for the mistreated radical liberal poor Blacks who were able to get an education I could never afford.You are creating the discrimination not the Whites. The radical Hispanics have learned well from you and now they no longer have to speak English because every one caters to their needs on phone , TV, hospitals, schools,etc..Another group that now discrinates. All of you intimidate the whites who fear being called a racist or politically incorrect. No one forced Hispanics, Muslims or any other race to come here after slavery was abolished. Believe me if an American of any color went to Mexico or any other country no one would cater to them except in tourist areas. And now the radical liberalized Muslims are following the trend. Attempting to change our laws and what is taught..People ,.people if you hate our history and nation so much, why are you here? You asked for asylum or a educational visa didn’t you? You would not recieve these benefits in your own nations, would you?
    You would not have freedom of expression or religion or enterprise would you?
    And you blame it on the whites or the Christians.. Well, while they may not not be perfect, without them you would have nothing. They are the first to raise money for all causes to help in crises around the world, are they not? It is not the atheists who try to care for you is it?. Trust me when you get rid of all the Christians and white folks who will you beat up then? And you call Texans stupid? Keep taking money from those who have worked for it and give it to those who refuse to work and watch as this nation descends to nothing but deadbeats who rob and kill each other. At least the Indians/Native Americans had treaties that were broken and that is a legitimate complaint.They are not saying you owe me because of my skin color or where I came from. That is your history lesson for today.

    • vs

      Very well written….

  • History Professor, PhD

    Most of the founding fathers were Deists or had Enlightenment-age Christian beliefs (they would not find much in common with Southern Baptists or other politically-active Christian denominations).

    The Treaty of Tripoli, written when most of the people who are considered “founding fathers” were still alive, made no qualms about the United States not being a “Christian nation”.

    And indeed, it isn’t a “Christian nation”. This does not mean, however, that it is a nation where one cannot be Christian. Or Muslim, Jewish, Taoist, etc. The founders previous experience had been with England and the Anglican Church that was highly intertwined with the politics of England. Simply put, the founders wanted neither government control of religion (thereby assuring that any citizen could worship who and how they saw fit), nor religious control of government (including “religious litmus tests” for public office holders and literal Biblical law as the law of the land).

    It is also worth mentioning that the American Revolution predates many, many modern concepts of government, economics, etc. Thus, it is anachronistic to paint the founding fathers as capitalists, socialists, communists, progressives, fascists, Darwinists, conservatives (in the modern sense) or liberals (in the modern sense). These concepts simply did not exist at the time. Period.

    It is also worth noting that “the founders” is far too broad a term for such an eclectic group of people that all held differing views on many things. Does one mean the Federalists who sought a strong central government, or the Anti-Federalists that sought some kind of minarchy? Does one mean Thomas Jefferson who envisioned a nation of farmers and ripped out pages from the Bible to make his own translation? Or George Washington who, despite not shying away from referencing God in an official capacity, preferred to sit outside and read while his wife attended church? Or perhaps you mean Benjamin Franklin who had many mistresses overseas and suffered from syphilis? Or Alexander Hamilton who basically fathered the American System of economics and protectionism?

    It is utterly, utterly ridiculous to assume that the “founders” were a pillar of Christian morality, let alone a group of hive-minded robots who all marched in lockstep.

    What many people fail to realize is that the founders were highly, highly intelligent people, by and large (at least compared to the average peasant farmer at the time). If they’d have wanted the nation to be founded on Biblical Law, they’d have PUT IT IN THE CONSTITUTION and not been vague about it to the extent that 200 years later, woefully uneducated people are claiming the US to be a Christian nation because the Declaration of Independence has the word “God” in it. If they wanted the Constitution to be some kind of unchanging monolith, they’d have not put in provisions to change it and update it by popular consent.

    “I know what the founders REALLY meant” is honestly pretty disrespectful to this large group of people, all of whom had different religious, social, economic and political beliefs, that you claim to respect so much.

    • me

      Well said.

    • Christine Snake Dizard

      Very well said.

  • jonathansaenz

    This issue has been plagued with misleading and inaccurate reporting. To get the facts on the SBOE social studies standards visit http://www.juststatethefacts.com/

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