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Texas Social Studies Hearing Likely to Get Hot

Expect some heated debate today before the Texas state board of education, which will hear public testimony on new social studies standards the state is looking to adopt, according to an Associated Press story.

The stakes are particularly high because what happens in Texas doesn't always stay in Texas. Publishers often look to the Lone Star State, as well as California, the two biggest adoption states, when writing textbooks.

The guidelines for teaching are "full of potential ideological flashpoints," the AP story notes, from discussion of Christopher Columbus to cosmetics queen Mary Kay Ash (who was born and raised in Texas). More than 130 people have signed up to testify.

Board members are crafting dozens of amendments for a tentative vote later this week, though a final vote on the standards isn't expected until March.

Key disputes reportedly include how much emphasis will be given to the religious beliefs of the nation's Founding Fathers, and whether the standards include enough examples of prominent Mexican Americans.

A recent spread in Washington Monthly magazine raised concerns about the influence of conservatives over the process. My colleague Mary Ann Zehr wrote a preview story last summer.

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