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Dear Fellow Library Media People,

I have been posting on various forums what our Texas SBOE is doing to our 
history/social studies curriculum and possibly influencing textbooks that 
will be used nationwide. I belong to H-Texas History forum (an excellent, 
scholarly discussion group) and this arrived in my e-mail today. I have 
signed the letter, and invite any of you who want to, to also sign. You may 
want to share the information with your history teacher collegues so they 
can sign, too.

Thank you.

Betty Dawn Hamilton (Using retired years to keep up with current events!)
LMS (Middle & High School)
Former Chair of Texas Association of School Librarians
Former Contributing Editor of "Profession" section, Texas Library Journal
Brownfield, TX

----- Original Message ----- 
Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 3:05 PM
Subject: Historians speak out about social studies in Texas

Dear fellow list members,

As you have probably heard from reports in the national media, the Texas 
State Board of Education is revising the state's social studies curriculum­, 
the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Though numerous errors are 
circulating in the media, it is true that a majority of the board has voted 
to approve a curriculum that minimizes the history and significance of 
diversity in the state and emphasizes narrow ideological partisanship over 
broader education and critical thinking. Information about the review 
process and an online archive of media coverage is available at

The Texas State Board of Education will hold a final public hearing about 
the standards in the middle of May. Historians at the University of Texas at 
Austin and the University of Texas at El Paso have drafted the letter for 
presentation before the hearing. Please read the letter and consider signing 
it by visiting Feel free 
to pass it along to colleagues in other settings.

Thank you for your willingness to assist in this effort.

Keith A. Erekson
Assistant Professor of History
Director, Center for History Teaching & Learning
The University of Texas at El Paso
500 W. University, El Paso, TX 79968-0532
(915) 747-5878, Fax: (915) 747-5948

Open Letter to the Texas State Board of Education

Public schools must provide students with a sound elementary and high school 
education that prepares them to succeed in college and their future careers. 
Such a sound education must be fair, accurate and balanced and it must be 
based on rigorous, mainstream scholarship, not on ideological agendas.

Those of us who teach and conduct research in colleges and universities have 
grown concerned, however, that social studies curriculum standards in Texas 
do not meet student needs.  We also believe that the Texas State Board of 
Education has been derelict in its duty to revise the public school 
curriculum.  In short, recent proposals by Board members have undermined the 
study of the social sciences in our public schools by misrepresenting and 
even distorting the historical record and the functioning of American 

Some of the problematic revisions that they have proposed include:

  *   Weakening the study of constitutional protections for religious 
liberty that keep government out of matters of faith;
  *   Minimizing the struggle of women and ethnic minorities for equal and 
civil rights;
  *   Striking Thomas Jefferson from a world history standard about the 
influence of Enlightenment thinkers on political changes since the 1700s;
  *   Excluding an important historical figure from Latin America because 
some board members did not recognize him

The integrity of the curriculum revision process has been compromised and we 
propose that the Board restore the trust of the public and the academic 
community by proceeding as follows:

  *   Delay the final adoption of social studies curriculum standards;
  *   Allow curriculum teams and a new panel of qualified, credentialed 
content experts from the state's colleges and universities to review changes 
that the Board has made and prepare a new draft of the standards that is 
fair, accurate and balanced;
  *   Permit the public to review and comment on the new draft of the 
standards before final adoption;
  *   Make final changes to the draft of the standards only after public 
consultation with classroom teachers and scholars who are experts in the 
appropriate fields of study.

Like all members of the Texas State Board of Education, we have a vested 
interest in giving our schoolchildren the tools that they need to succeed in 
college and their future careers. For genuine college and work readiness to 
occur the Board must adhere to a more transparent, fair, and inclusive 
process of curriculum revisions, and it must make full and effective use of 
the faculty and researchers from our colleges and universities in Texas who 
can offer expert assistance and guidance.

Organizing Committee

Emilio Zamora (co-chair), University of Texas at Austin
Jeffrey P. Shepherd, University of Texas at El Paso
Anne M. Martínez, University of Texas at Austin
Laurie B. Green, University of Texas at Austin
Keith A. Erekson (co-chair), University of Texas at El Paso
Ernesto Chavez, University of Texas at El Paso
Sam Brunk, University of Texas at El Paso


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