The Texas Freedom Network was live-blogging today from the meeting of the Texas Board of Education. Of particular interest here is the coverage of the debate over the state history standards. (The meetings are being webcasted here, but they do not seem to be available yet. See my posts on the subject here.)
Based on the TFN blog, here are a few highlights:
1. Several members of the board lament the politicization of this whole process.
2. NAACP, Latino, and Christian Right activists are present at the meeting and get a chance to speak.
3. Peter Marshall begins his testimony by appealing to the Declaration of Independence as a document that issued a religious creed for the nation.
4. Peter Marshall defends the view that Pedro Flores, the inventor of the Yo-Yo, should be included in the standards. (I am not sure what this was all about).
5. David Barton claims that he DOES NOT want to eliminate Cesar Chavez from the Texas standards. He does, however, think that Chavez should be taught in a different part of the curriculum. Board member Don McElroy notes how he is impressed with Barton’s “command of history.”
6. Board member Terri Leo objects to references to “global citizenship” in the standards. She thinks that Americans should be learning about “patriotism” and “nationalism” instead. I guess that it is more important that students know that they are Americans and not members of a worldwide community of human beings. Why not both? I wonder how much Leo’s views here are a response to Barack Obama’s global citizen speeches, particularly the one delivered recently in Berlin.
7. A strange debate emerges over whether or not first graders should learn about Nathan Hale. Leo demands that Hale be included. Teachers object based on the fact that Hale’s execution may be a bit too much for first-graders to handle. Leo still insists the standards for first-grade students must include Hale.
8. Leo argues that the Bible should be listed as one of the “principles and ideas” that underlie the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution.
9. Board member Sara Cargill wants the Puritans and Pilgrims to be listed alongside the Hebrew tradition, Greece, and Rome, as a source of American democracy.
The Texas Board will now turn the work of revision over to curriculum writers who will take into consideration the recommendations of the experts. They will have new drafts for the Board to consider when they meet again in November.