Multiple conservative groups raised concerns over the proposed TEKS, claiming the standards are in violation of House Bill (HB) 3979, or Senate Bill (SB) 3. This bill aimed to ban critical race theory from Texas public schools.
The Texas Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative state representatives, sent a letter to SBOE Chairman Keven Ellis Monday morning criticizing the proposed TEKS.
“The proposed changes require educators to violate Texas law by teaching subjects associated with critical race theory,” they write.
“The changes also eliminate the teaching of Texas history as stand-alone courses, which is a time-honored tradition of Texas schools.”
The proposed changes indeed scrap the year-long Texas history courses previously taught in grades four and seven.
Between grades three to five, there is no discussion of Texas or United States history. Instead, the curriculum focuses heavily on world history and prompts students to examine a host of global cultures.
In sixth grade, there is a small portion of the year dedicated to American history but only up to the American Revolution. Most of that year is also devoted to the study of world history.
Out of 15 major topics for seventh-grade social studies, only one mentions the Texas Revolution and another talks briefly about the founding of the Republic of Texas. Both of these are set as part of a larger discussion of U.S westward expansion and the Antebellum Period.
One point instructs students to “use primary and secondary sources to compare differing perspectives on the siege and fall of the Alamo.”
The Texas Freedom Caucus criticized this topic in their letter writing, “General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was a murderous, genocidal tyrant. Under no circumstances should Texas children be taught the ‘other side’ of the Nazi-like tyrants our forefathers valiantly fought to allow us to be where we all are today.”
Amid the increased focus on world history, there is a dearth of TEKS discussing Judeo-Christian belief systems as contributors to the development of thought and civilization.
In the fourth grade TEKS, there is one bullet point describing, “the central ideas of Judaism, including monotheism, and the Ten Commandments as a moral and legal code.”
Regarding Christianity, there is one sub-topic that discusses “the central ideas of Christianity, including the role of Jesus and the concepts of incarnation, repentance, and caring for the sick and poor.”
While Judeo-Christian belief systems receive limited discussion, an entire unit is spent on East Asian belief systems like Confucianism and Hinduism.
In the proposed TEKS for high school courses there are also notable changes. In the United States History Course, there is no instruction of the national mottos “E Pluribus Unum” and “In God We Trust.”
Sociology TEKS direct students to “define sex, gender, and sexual orientation and differentiate among their distinguishing characteristics.”
In this course, students will also learn “the progressions of institutional racism, institutional sexism, institutional ageism, and institutional poverty and analyze their impacts on society.”
The concept of institutional or structural racism is one of the core tenets of critical race theory, arguing that racist biases exist within society’s institutions.
In the new Mexican American Studies course, one topic connects the founding of the United States Border Patrol to the disenfranchisement of Mexican Americans and immigrants.
The TEKS drafts also seem at odds with the aspect of SB 3 that gives teachers the option of whether or not to discuss controversial social topics.
If the current drafts are finalized, teachers will be required to teach students how to “identify and analyze how current issues in social institutions including family, economics, government, education, religion, media, the criminal justice system, and health care lead to social change.”
The Texas Freedom Caucus is not the only group raising concerns over the proposed standards.
Texas Values, a conservative advocacy group, is encouraging parents to “come to Austin and testify against the radical proposals and encourage the board to teach well rounded history to our K-12 students.”
At the Tuesday meeting, there will be a period for public testimony. In addition to this testimony, SBOE members will give their comments on the current drafts. There will not be a final vote at this meeting.
The meeting can be livestreamed here.
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Hudson Callender is a reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of San Antonio, Texas. Hudson recently graduated cum laude from Trinity University with majors in Economics and Political Science, and loves to study ancient history. Hudson is also an avid mountaineer, backpacker, and paddler, often leading trips to remote wilderness areas. Outside of his love for nature, history, and Lone Star beer, Hudson spends his weekends arguing with his friends about football, and will always stick up for the Baylor Bears, Dallas Cowboys, and San Antonio Spurs.