The flap over social studies curriculum textbooks that is roiling Texas parents and teachers is not likely to be felt in California, according to county Superintendent of Schools Julian Crocker.
“I don’t think it would have an impact on California,” Crocker told The Tribune. He said the California Board of Education adopts curriculum, and textbook publishers “come in and present their wares.”
The sorts of changes to curriculum that are making headway in Texas “would get ferreted out” in Sacramento, Crocker said.
Adding to the unlikelihood that such textbooks would be used in California is the fact that adoption of curricula is frozen in the state because of budget cuts.
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The Texas Board of Education tentatively adopted guidelines March 12 that skew the curriculum to the right, according to published reports. Board President Don McElroy told The New York Times that he and his colleagues are merely trying to move the curriculum back to what they consider the center after a long leftward drift.
The board is elected and has a 10-5 Republican majority.
Among the many tentatively adopted changes:
• Highlighting the inaugural address of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America.
• Dropping Thomas Jefferson from a section devoted to great political thinkers.
• Reducing information about the impact of Latinos in U.S. history. One Texas board member, Mary Helen Berlanga, told The New York Times, “They can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist.”
• Replacing hip-hop with country-western music as an important cultural influence.
• Replacing “capitalism” with “free market” and “democratic” (form of government) with “constitutional republic.”
• Minimizing the separation of church and state.
Downplaying Jefferson has drawn the most vocal criticism, but the other moves also have drawn fire for their partisanship.
To cite one example, the board wants Texas school children to learn about 1980s anti-feminist icon Phyllis Schlafly, who heads the Eagle Forum.
The Eagle Forum attacks “radical feminists,” the United Nations and the “Imperial Judiciary,” among other things. On its Web site, it calls for “withdrawing jurisdiction from the federal courts over areas where we don’t trust them, such as the Pledge of Allegiance, the Ten Commandments, the Boy Scouts and the definition of marriage.”
Meanwhile, Ralph Nader and Ross Perot, both former presidential candidates, would be omitted.
The curriculum standards will now be published in a state register, according to the Times, opening them up for 30 days of public comment. A final vote will be taken in May.
The standards, reviewed every decade, serve as a template for textbook publishers, who must come before the board next year with drafts of their books.
In California, state Sen. Leland Yee intends to introduce legislation that will ensure California schools do not use social studies textbooks that include the changes made in Texas.
“These curriculum changes are completely unacceptable,” Yee said. “Our children deserve better.”