By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The closely watched debate over new public school social studies curriculum standards that would put more emphasis on the role of Christianity in society, government and history, was approved on Friday by a 9-5 vote.
The Christian Post is reporting that the Texas State Board of Education approved the new standards after 18 months of work and much media scrutiny. As Texas is the second-largest textbook market in the country, the new curriculum is expected to influence publishers of textbooks used in classrooms throughout the country.
A majority of Board members sought to correct what they called years of liberal bias in the nation’s history text books and have approved a curriculum that will once again teach schoolchildren the roles of capitalist enterprise, the military, Christianity and modern conservative political figures.
Supporters of the new curriculum say people opposed to Christianity have been trying to rewrite history books to reflect their own view of history.
“[The fringe left] want unlimited control over what students learn, to radically change the worldview of our next generation by distorting history,” claimed faith-based legal group Liberty Institute prior to Friday’s vote.
“Liberal fringe efforts to complicate, obfuscate, and denigrate our heritage and history must be rejected,” added Jonathan Saenz, director of legislative affairs for the organization.
Opponents of the new curriculum say the revisions are a way of imposing a specific political and religious ideology upon millions of public school students.
“The right-wing fundamentalist bloc on the Texas State Board of Education is bound and determined to rewrite American history,” commented Americans United for Separation of Church and State on Friday.
There is a “litany of problems with this curriculum,” added Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, which has led efforts against the new curriculum, the Post reports.
“All of these issues,” she added, “as serious as they are, are really symptoms of the larger problem – allowing politicians with personal agendas to write our children’s curriculum, rather than teachers and scholars.”
The Post reports that one of leaders of the opposition to the changes, the Texas Freedom Network, is vowing to fight on and has told its constituents that the vote “is not the end of this fight. It’s the beginning.”
However, experts say it is unlikely that they will get anywhere unless a Democrat wins the governor’s race this fall and would choose to intervene, something that is not considered likely.
Some 4.8 million K-12 students in Texas will be directly affected by the new standards which will take effect in the fall of 2011.
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