By Calvin Palmer
The great and the good of the Texas Board of Education have been meeting this week to decide what subjects and personalities should constitute the new social studies curriculum.
The board was expected to register its first vote today with a final vote in March. Due to other time-sensitive issues, the vote was deferred until March with a final vote in May.
The board has been debating hip-hop, McCarthyism and immigration, as well as which historical figures are worth learning about and whether second graders should be taught Aesop’s Fables.
Today, board members declined to strike the McCarthy’s Red Scare from high school history classes and added a reference to the Venona Papers – research purportedly confirming “suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government”.
It also agreed to require students to differentiate between “legal and illegal immigration” in a section on geography and changing demographic patterns.
A proposal to change hip-hop to country in a section covering the impact of cultural movements on American society was defeated.
“I support the hip-hop,” said board member Pat Hardy, a Fort Worth Republican. “I do not like hip-hop — can’t stand it myself — but I’m not 16. I think it’s had, in many ways, a negative effect in our society and I think that when we don’t discuss things, we don’t know. To pretend it’s not there is crazy.”
Board member Terri Leo, a Republican from the Houston area, said hip-hop music contributes to bad behavior and anorexia in some of the students she teaches.
Didn’t they say similar sorts of things about Rock ‘n’ Roll music in the 1950s. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Various historical figures have been added to the list students in Texas should be aware of, including astronauts James A. Lovell and Ellen Ochoa; Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low; and Jose Antonio Navarro, a Texas revolutionary and contemporary of early Texas leader Stephen F. Austin.
The board decided first-graders are old enough to learn about the accountability of public officials and second-graders should read Aesop’s Fables.
After an initial recommendation and ensuing outcry, the board chose not to remove Christmas from a list of religious holidays and observances in a sixth-grade world cultures class.
[Based on a report in The Houston Chronicle.]