Folks are urged to Step to Texas State Board of Education over History Books

A while back we featured a story that talked about the debate taking place within the Texas State Board of Education about what sort of historical figures should be featured in text books. What drew our attention to the situation were reports that historical figures like Ceasar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall were going to be eliminated from the curriculm and replaced by ultra conservative icons like Newt Gingrich and Jerry Falwell.  We alerted people so they could weigh in.. Now here’s a follow up, there will be a hearing this Wednesday where people can come and testifyand let their voices be heard on what should. It might be too late, but folks can click the link below to sign up to testify. You can also call (512) 463-9581

http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/sboe/forms/registration_form_public_testimony_012109.pdf

Texans to get a say on new history standards 

By Gary Scharrer – Express-News

AUSTIN — Minority advocacy groups urged their members to show up at a State Board of Education public hearing next week to appeal for more Hispanic and African American historical figures in public school textbooks.

Registration to give public testimony starts Friday for Wednesday’s hearing at the William B. Travis Building, where the Texas Education Agency is located.

The 15-member board planned to take a preliminary vote later in the week before final action in March on new standards for the social studies curriculum, which will influence how history and government books are written for the state’s 4.7 million public school children.

Hispanic school children already make up a small majority in early elementary grades, and they will soon will be the majority in the entire public school system.
“We owe it to them to provide a complete picture of Texas, one in which they can be proud of the accomplishments of their ancestors. It’s important to enhance their self-identity,” said Sylvia Garcia, a career educator who attended a press conference in Austin organized by LULAC.

Similar gatherings were held in San Antonio and Houston.

Current school textbooks ignore such figures as Bernardo de Galvez, whose contributions helped George Washington defeat the British, said Dan Arellano, an Austin LULAC vice president. About 9,000 Tejanos fought in the Civil War and 500,000 in World War II, with 15 Hispanics awarded Medals of Honor, Arellano said, adding that Hispanic servicemen suffered 23 percent of the Vietnam War causalities while making up only 4.5 percent of the U.S. population.

“You don’t see that in our history books,” Arellano said. “What we want is what is fair and equitable.”

Waiting until the 7th grade before students get exposed to notable Hispanic figures is too late, Arellano said.

Concerns over how the Founding Fathers are presented and the handling of certain holidays have aroused interest from groups such as the Texas Free Market Foundation, which generated a protest last year when the Christmas holiday temporarily disappeared from the standards.

“People were just in a shock and outrage in the beginning of this process. People still don’t feel settled, and they want to make sure that their voice is heard, and that’s why you’re seeing more interest and activity,” said the foundation’s Jonathan Saenz.

Some State Board of Education members said it’s impossible to include the achievements of all significant minority historical figures.

“What we’re asking for is to include the significant history,” said Alicia Perez of Unidos de Austin. “It is quite evident that the Hispanic influence throughout the Southwest is extremely significant.”

It is important that students educated in Texas schools are able to articulate the state’s complete history “in an educated and a knowledgeable way” when they reach bigger cities like New York and Boston, Perez said.

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