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Texas Board Tentatively OKs Social Studies Standards

Amid a debate infused with political, racial, and religious tensions, the Texas board of education by a vote of 11-4 gave its preliminary approval today to new social studies standards.

"In amendment after amendment, the board's ultraconservative faction wielded their power to shape lessons on the civil rights movement, the U.S. free enterprise system, religion, and hundreds of other topics," an Associated Press story says. The vote was largely along party lines, with just one Democrat voting in favor.

The Texas standards, once they're in final form, will have a long reach. They'll shape what appears in Texas textbooks, and because of the size of the Texas market, there will be ripple effects for the textbooks used in many other states.

Republican board member Terri Leo called the standards "world class" and "exceptional," the AP story says. But Democratic board member Mavis Knight, who voted no, said: "We have been about conservatism versus liberalism. ... We have manipulated strands to insert what we want it to be in the document, regardless as to whether or not it's appropriate."

The state board will convene again in May, at which time it may make further changes to the standards before holding a final vote.

As I noted in a blog item yesterday, the standards-rewrite effort has been attracting a lot of attention nationally. In fact, the Texas Education Agency has accused Fox News of providing inaccurate information about the standards.

For some other takes on the latest developments, here are stories from the Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle.

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