SBOE gives preliminary approval to streamlined social studies standards and gives final approval to a Mexican American Studies course
Texas schoolchildren will still learn of the heroic "Victory or Death" letter penned by Lt. Col. William Barret Travis while besieged in the Alamo, under streamlined social studies curriculum standards given approval Friday by the State Board of Education to solicit public feedback.
The board rejected a proposal by an advisory group that suggested deleting the specific reference to the famous letter and deleting the word “heroic” when describing the Alamo heroes.
Instead the board unanimously voted to include this revised language to the seventh-grade Texas history standards: "Explain the issues surrounding significant events of the Texas Revolution, including the Battle of Gonzales, the siege of the Alamo, William B. Travis's letter 'To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World,' and the heroism of the diverse defenders who gave their lives there; the Constitutional Convention of 1836; Fannin's surrender at Goliad; and the Battle of San Jacinto."
Stephen Cure, a member of the Texas history work group that recommended the initial changes, said the committee recommended deleting the explicit reference to the Travis letter “because the specific reference was repetitive and unnecessary since it is impossible to teach the siege of the Alamo without teaching about the letter.” He said the work group believed that the “heroic nature of the diverse participants in the siege would be taught” whether the standard included the word heroic or not.
SBOE Chair Donna Bahorich said, “I appreciate the hard work of all those who served on the social studies work groups. The board accepted many of their recommendations, but the board unanimously felt the need to defend the Alamo. Texas has a unique history and it has been clear this past week that Texans feel passionately about telling this story.”
Today’s vote was a first reading, or preliminary, vote. The final vote on streamlining of the kindergarten through 12th grade social studies curriculum standards, known as the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, will occur at the board’s next meeting scheduled for Nov. 13-16.
The State Board of Education also gave final approval to a new course called Ethnic Studies: Mexican American Studies. It is the first ethnic studies course approved by the Texas board and is believed to be the first Mexican American Studies course approved by any State Board of Education.
The course will be available for use in Texas public schools in the 2019-2020 school year. The one-credit elective course is based largely on a local course created by the Houston Independent School District.