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Education News

More Controversy in the Classroom

State educators are struggling with the decision of what should be taught in Texas social studies classes. Bill Stamps reports.



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Its probably safe to say most people don’t know who Wentworth Cheswill is. Its also safe to say most six year olds don’t know anything about holding an elected official to their word. But both of those are examples of changes that could be made to the social studies curriculum in Texas.

Angela Miller is in charge of HISD social studies curriculum.

“They’ve added a whole lot of names of people who aren’t necessarily Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. People like Wentworth Cheswill who is important in the American Revolution, but I had to do a bit of research to find out how and why.”

The controversy is that some say conservatives on the state board of education want to downplay the role of minorities and highlight the role of Christianity and conservatism in the curriculum. The other side is accused wanting to add the stories of more minorities to the curriculum just for the sake of it, while painting America in a negative light.
University of Houston History professor Michael Oberg believes some of the changes talked about have racial overtones.

“It would deemphasize the role played by native people’s, African-Americans, essentially people who are not white, not male and not conservative. Their roles would be reduced in this curriculum.”

In case you haven’t googled his name by now, Wentworth Cheswill was a black man who fought during the American Revolution and was elected to town council in New Hampshire. Miller says there are a lot of new names on the list but their contributions don’t appear to be worthy of being in a textbook.

“It seems that we are putting in some minority names almost to say that we’ve done it.”

Before you link Miller with conservatives you should know she believes some conservatives board members also have an agenda by wanting things like this taught in school.

“The resurgence of conservatism in America including the importance of Phyllis Schlafly, the Moral Majority, the National Rifle Association, the Heritage Foundation and something else that I can’t quote off the top of my head.”

Miller says both sides have lost their middle ground…accusing the other of being extreme. The board is expected to vote on the matter later this year.