Texas adds Huerta, Winfrey, drops FDR

Texas’ social studies textbooks may get browner, reports the San Antonio Express-News. A draft of the new curriculum standards adds “Dolores Huerta, Dr. Hector P. Garcia, Sandra Cisneros, Henry B. Gonzalez and Irma Rangel to the list of important Hispanic figures Texas schoolchildren might be discussing in the future.”

Huerta, a co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, would join Helen Keller and Clara Barton to show third-graders examples of good citizenship.

Under the proposal, third-graders also would be introduced to Dr. Garcia, a civil rights leader and founder of the American GI Forum who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Reagan.

The late Henry B. Gonzalez of San Antonio could end up in fourth-grade history books as an example “of individuals who modeled active participation in the democratic process.” Gonzalez, who once stood for 22 straight hours on the Texas Senate floor to fight segregation bills, was later a member of the U.S. House for 38 years.

But there isn’t room for everyone. Peter Morrison, a school board member on the grade 5 review panel, “complained that Presidents Eisenhower and Roosevelt were characterized as ‘dead white guys’ during a committee discussion,” reports the Express-News.

On Curriculum Matters, Mary Ann Zehr notes that Franklin D. Roosevelt has been cut  from the list of “significant political and social leaders in the United States,” though he does appear in a section on the Depression.

Henry B. Gonzalez, Thurgood Marshall, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Billy Graham have been added.

. . .  Bill Gates, Sam Walton, and Oprah Winfrey have been added as examples in the U.S. history standards of “American entrepreneurs.”

A majority of Texas students will be Hispanic by 2013, when the new books will come out.

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  1. Ponderosa says:

    Texas conservatives probably didn’t balk at deleting FDR. But it’s hard to imagine anyone who’s had such a mammoth impact on America. Now little Texans can run around free to think that government is evil, minds undisturbed by the knowledge of FDR’s accomplishments.

  2. Margo/Mom says:

    This, of course, is the problem when standards get very prescriptive with regard to curriculum content. Focus on concepts, rather than trying to rank order every historical figure and event, work of literature, or plant, animal and mineral that might be studied. This isn’t to say that all of these should be eliminated–only that thirteen years is not sufficient to cover everything under the sun. Standards should provide the broad guidance, with some of the specifics left to teachers and districts.

  3. CharterMom says:

    Well,to respond to Ponderosa — I’m conservative/libertarian and while I don’t particularly like FDR, I cannot believe that he is being left out of the list of important social and political figures. I agree that the things FDR and his administration accomplished were of mammoth impact even if I don’t think that much of that impact was particularly good. To not include him on the list of people with impact and replace him with some of the people named is just crazy! It’s not that those people weren’t accomplished but FDR’s impact was profound.

  4. tim-10-ber says:

    Just because the kids will be majority hispanic they are in the United States of America and they are to learn US history. Not the butchered history…but ALL of US history. This is absolutely ridiculous….damn public school educators and government schools!! You all are absolute fools for allowing this to happen!!

  5. I’m with CharterMom. Regardless of whatever one thinks of FDR, it’s an objective fact that he was a major figure in American history. Here’s a test of importance. Ask yourself, what if (fill in person’s name here) didn’t exist? How would America be affected? If someone else other than FDR had been president, America might be a very different place today.

    I don’t think “want[ing] to see some brown faces” (San Antonio Express-News) is a valid reason to alter the mix of historical figures. The question should not be, is so-and-so (fill in ethnic group here), but is so-and-so objectively important for the history of America and/or Texas?

    Should changing demography be reflected in the way history is taught?

    Should “the ultimate goal of teaching history [be] to make students feel they are part of the story”? None, absolutely none of my ancestors were in 18th century America. None even looked like 18th century Americans. Did I feel left out when discussing the Constitution, etc.? No. I was interested in the ideas. I didn’t care what the Founding Fathers looked like. Ideas have no color. The Constitution affects all Americans.

    So my answer to those two questions is “no.” I don’t think history should be subjective in the sense that it should be modified to fit the perceived interests of the audience: e.g., Texans get a more Hispanic-flavored version of US history, a state with a large black population gets a more black version, etc. History should not be about looking in the mirror and hoping to find people “like me.” This kind of self-centered mindset can only hold us back in a diverse world where many people are *not* like us.

    Here’s a thought experiment: Suppose the white population of a traditionally nonwhite region increased. Would anyone dare to argue that the history of the region – objectively dominated by nonwhites – should be rewritten to emphasize marginal white participants because white kids want to see some white faces? No, and I hope no one ever makes that argument.

    I like Margo/Mom’s division between concepts and specifics. However, am I overlooking a good reason to have very specific standards from above?

    I don’t deny the importance of specifics, but I confess that I’m not comfortable with a checklist approach to learning. Mastery of points on a list may simply mean short-term memorization or even just exposure.

  6. It’s always easy to distinguish fair policy from unfair policy. Reverse the situation and see if it still sounds good.

    This should result in “seeing more red faces” in Texas (and I’m certainly not talking about Native Americans), but it won’t of course.

    More and more, I get the feeling that public education is on its last legs in this country. How long before the middle class just bails on the whole concept? Add this to the story above, about only 23% of students being ready for college when they graduate, and I’m hard pressed to imagine any scenario under which I would enroll a child of mine in a public school.

  7. Bill Leonard says:

    So, the deep thinkers who create Texas textbook standards have decided that FDR, one of the major political figures worldwide in the 20th century, should be dropped in favor of Delores Huerta, an “activist” who still tours the country touting two of her heroes, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. This stunt is simply despicable.

    Rob, I think you are right: it is simply a matter of time before the middle class in this country simply abandons public schools entirely. With horseapples like this going on, the sooner such abandonment happens, the better.

  8. Ponderosa, you underestimate conservatives. I’m very conservative and teach my own children about FDR (we home school).

    I definitely agree with the other posters.

  9. “Rob, I think you are right: it is simply a matter of time before the middle class in this country simply abandons public schools entirely.”

    Hope not. If you’ll ignore the selfishness, this creates an opportunity for those smart enough to see through this crap and actually get an education to make themselves very valuable to employers.

  10. Just another example of what you get when you put a bunch of politicians in charge.

  11. Richard Aubrey says:


    I don’t think anybody was saying abandon the concept of education. It was abandoning the concept of PUBLIC education, in order to get an education which would make one valuable to employers and a citizen with a civil IQ above that of a sea slug.
    Citizens with civil IQ lower than that of a sea slug can be manipulated more easily.
    And making history match melanin is one way to make kids dumber, even if that were not…cough…the actual objective.

  12. Let’s give the dead some credit, at least their lives are purely historical.

  13. Actually I was being facetious.

  14. If you don’t like the dumbing down of your state’s textbooks, move to a majority white state and stop complaining. Wyoming, North Dakota and Maine come to mind, and I don’t think they’re on the reconquista list.

  15. Richard Aubrey says:

    Sorry. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

  16. In many ways the responses to this “news” distorts the issue. It seems that Texas has added some 5 Hispanic/Latino “heroes” to their history books. Well that is five. There must be at least 400 Anglo heroes there. This in a state that will be a majority Latino by 2013.
    In many cases these arguments are distortions. We face the same issues in California. In the current History/Social Science Framework there are only about 3 Latinos. This in a society where 49% of the school children are Latino. And, yes, there were hundreds of Latino leaders like Dolores Huerta that could be mentioned. So, if you then add say 10 leaders, persons accuse you of distorting the history.
    The California issues are discussed on my blog, wwww.choosingdemocracy.blogspot.com But, it is the same issue.
    El respeto al derecho ajeno, es la paz. ( Respect for the right of your neighbor is peace).
    BTW. the California Framework which controls the textbooks has just been revised, but the document can not adopted because of the state cash crisis, there is no money for the hearings process.

  17. tim-10-ber says:

    More on the proposed changes to history in TX


    Guess people need to supplement the textbook with: The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History by Thomas E. Woods Jr.

  18. I hope not: Thomas E Woods, Jr., is a disgusting anti-scholar whom decent people should shun.

  19. History is only marginally about the individuals – that’s biography. History is about the broad concepts, the major conflicts, and the political, economic, and cultural influences of the time.

    By all means, have the kids research and report on the individuals. But, don’t waste valuable class time on peripheral people, and ignore the more important major themes. The way social studies is taught now, too many kids can recite “factoids” about the environment, white evils, and anti-American propaganda. But, they have NO clue about the Constitution, and the limitations it places on the government. They don’t know what America has done well, and why it is such a magnet for freedom-craving peoples around the world.

    I am beginning to truly despair for the future citizens of this land. They may be incapable of keeping this country free from tyranny, due to their ignorance (imposed on them from those whose job it is to educate them).