Helen Keller and Hillary Clinton Could be Cut From History Textbooks in Texas

The Texas Board of Education is once again raising eyebrows after it voted to “streamline” the social studies curriculum in public schools.

The Board, on which Republicans have a two-thirds majority, has decided that it is just “not necessary” to include Hillary Clinton or Helen Keller or Eleanor Roosevelt or Betty Friedan or numerous other important historical figures in the curriculum. 

Using an intriguing ranking to grade historical figures as to who is “essential” for students to study and who is not, a 15-member group answered such questions as “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 a possible 20 points, Clinton scored a 5 and Keller scored a 7. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln fell short of the top score, but “local members of the Texas legislature” and “military and first responders” all scored 20 out of 20.

The Board also suggested that third graders don’t need to learn how government services are paid for, although it voted to retain in their curriculum that “Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict” while taking out a reference to the “optimism of the many immigrants who sought a better life in America.”

Both of these moves are absolute travesties.

To be clear, these are just proposals at this point and the Board will hold a final vote in November. Even then, teachers in Texas will continue using the same textbooks and could even keep teaching all the eliminated material, but they won’t be required to do so.

But a bigger concern is that Texas is the second-biggest state in the U.S., with 5.4 million public school children, and the textbooks the state uses, as well as what it teaches, affect a lot of children’s learning in the state as well as around the U.S. That’s because publishers often sell textbooks prepared for publication in Texas in other states.

This is not the first time that controversy has arisen around state-adopted textbooks in Texas. In 2010, new social studies standards were adopted, leading to textbooks which debuted in 2015 and were full of omission and distortions.

A few examples: The Civil War was not about slavery; The Ku Klux Klan and Jim Crow laws never existed; Segregation wasn’t a big deal; There is no separation of Church and State; and Moses was a founding father.

There have been other textbook issues too. In 2013, so-called “religious conservatives” vehemently opposed science textbooks that included evolution but not creationism. (Let’s state the obvious here: creationism has no scientific validity.)

When math standards were revised in 2014, many parents and teachers objected, while a new Mexican-American studies course produced more uproar earlier this year.

Textbooks are vitally important to shaping students’ views. For many young people, textbooks may be the only books they encounter. Today’s social studies texts are still often woefully lacking in women’s history and references to minority groups. Including both women and minority groups is vitally important, so that all students can see themselves reflected and feel included.

Several years ago, when I was teaching fifth grade world history in New York, I asked my students to flip through their books and see how many images of women they could find. Once they determined that there were very few depictions of women, only men, we had an excellent class discussion on “What happened to the women?”

The children of Texas, a majority of whom are Hispanic, deserve better than to get only a distorted view of history, which mostly ignores them. If you agree, please sign my petition to the Texas Board of Education, asking them not to make these changes.

 

Photo Credit: thinkstock

62 comments

Ann B
Ann B19 days ago

LIAR HILARY can GO BUT NOT HELEN KELLER!!!!!

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Belinda Lang
Belinda L21 days ago

The Texas Board of Education is composed of dimwits. Parents who care about their children's education can look over the children's history textbook and see what the textbooks lack and teach the children what they think they need to know.

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Loredana V
Loredana V23 days ago

Insane! And stupid, because they are available for free in the Internet.

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Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga23 days ago

thx

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hELEN h
hELEN h23 days ago

tyfs

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Leo C
Leo C24 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Marija M
Marija M24 days ago

Texas - where is it??? I can not understand this madness...

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Janis K
Janis K25 days ago

This is just crazy!

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Margaret G
Margaret G25 days ago

How does Texas describe the 2016 presidential election? "Republican Donald Trump beat Democratic candidate who shall remain unidentified."

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Teresa A
Teresa A25 days ago

Petition signed.

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