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Historians Criticize Draft Texas Standards, Seek Delay in Vote

With the Texas board of education expected to take a final vote in May on revised social studies standards, the debate surrounding that effort doesn't show any signs of easing up.

As of late last week, some 800 history professors from around the nation had signed on to a letter that calls for the state board to delay a final vote to allow "qualified, credentialed content experts" to review the changes and make recommendations, reports the Austin American-Statesman.

The letter charges that some of the changes recently approved by the Republican-controlled board would undermine "the study of the social sciences in our public schools by misrepresenting and even distorting the historical record and the functioning of American society."

The standards were tentatively approved on a party-line vote of 10-5 in March. As I blogged last week, the latest draft of the standards is now online.

The American-Statesman story quotes Gail Lowe, the board's chair, as saying the process has already been extended to allow for additional input and that further delays were not likely.

Meanwhile, Don McLeroy, a leading conservative on the state board, shared his thoughts on the standards in an opinion piece in USA Today last week.

"The proposed changes have attracted national attention because they challenge the powerful ideology of the left and highlight the great political divide of our country," he writes. "The left's principles are diametrically opposed to our founding principles. The left believes in big, not limited, government; they empower the state, not the individual; they focus on differences, not unity."

I should note that McLeroy recently lost his bid for re-election to the board to a fellow Republican in the primary.

Finally, in the typical point-counterpoint approach of USA Today, the paper's editorial board ran an editorial the same day criticizing the draft social studies standards.

"Members of the Texas board and their backers say they're just trying to restore balance to an academic system they view as skewed to the left," the editorial says. "But that misses the point. Standards should be set by professionals in their fields. They should not be a vehicle for scoring points in the culture wars."

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