The State Board of Education in Texas has voted to drop several historical figures, including Hillary Clinton, Barry Goldwater and Helen Keller, from the state’s required social studies curriculum to “streamline” the material for millions of public school students.
The decision to remove such figures would not prevent teaching about them, only that it would not be mandatory.
Members of the volunteer work groups that made such recommendations to the board said the state requires children to learn about too many historical figures.
Eliminating Clinton from the required curriculum will save teachers 30 minutes of instructional time, one work group estimated, and eliminating Keller will save 40 minutes, the The Dallas Morning News reports.
The board’s tentative decision on Friday, which faces a final vote in November after a period of public response, affects 5.4 million Texas public school students. The elected board members represent specific geographical areas of the state.
Barbara Cargill, a Texas Republican and member of the 15-person board, told The Dallas Morning News that “the recommendation to eliminate Helen Keller and Hillary Clinton was made by (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) work groups.”
“However the board did vote to agree with the work groups’ recommendations,” she noted. “In speaking to teachers and testifiers, they did not mention these specific deletions.”
The Republican-dominated board also tentatively approved restoring language, eliminated by one committee, referring to Moses in lessons about America’s founding. After an outcry from conservatives and Gov. Gregg Abbott, the board also voted to reinstate references to “heroism” in studies about the Battle of the Alamo, a hallowed event in Texas history.
The committee’s had called “heroic,” in reference to the battle, a “value-charged” term, according to the Texas Tribune. After Texas Monthly magazine published an article on the debate, however, Abbott called on Texans to contact their education members members to “stop political correctness in our schools.”
In addition, the board voted to keep a requirement that students explain how the “Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict” in the Middle East.
Texas high school students have been required to learn about Hillary Clinton after the former first lady made history in 2016 as the first female presidential nominee of a major political party.Third-graders have been required to learn about Keller, a disability rights and the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Goldwater, the 1964 Republican presidential nominee, has been singled out as the first ethnically Jewish presidential candidate from a major party and primary architect of the modern conservative movement.
Regarding which historical figures to include in the mandatory curriculum, a key consideration was whether the individual was from an underrepresented gorp or triggered a watershed change.
Clinton reportedly scored a five on the 20-point grading scale, and Keller scored a seven.
In June, one committee, following direction from the board, reversed a recommendation by a different committee to remove the late evangelist Billy Graham from the mandatory list, according to the Austin American-Statesman reports. Graham had scored a four on the grading scale.
The board also softened language on slavery as a cause of the Civil War, the newspaper reports.
Although multiple Democrats wanted slavery singled out as the cause of the Civil War, the board voted to retain listing sectionalism and states’ rights as “contributing factors” for the conflict. The board, however, added language that the expansion of slavery was the central cause of the Civil War.
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