Texas-centric history curriculum

The proposed social studies curriculum in Texas is all about Texas, all the time, complains Gary Nash, a UCLA professor and director of the National Center for History in Schools. From the El Paso Times:

Texas students “are going to know a great deal about their own state and it is a fine state, but they are going to know very little about the world and they are going to leave high school with a very myopic view of the history of humankind,” Nash said in an interview.

The state offers two years of Texas history, one year of world history and a yearlong look at contemporary world culture. In contrast, California teaches three years of world history and one year of state history.

The Board of Education’s new curriculum includes a list of historic figures that may be taught and those who must be taught. There’s no mention of Nicolaus Copernicus, Marie Curie and Pythagoras of Samos, Nash complains. Simon Bolivar, Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton also have been dropped. But teachers must teach students about their Texas state legislators.

Other critics say the curriculum doesn’t put enough stress on Hispanics, women, Native Americans and African-Americans. Of 160 people mentioned in the current draft, only 14 are Hispanic — and some of those are Spanish settlers.

State Rep. Norma Chávez, D-El Paso, told the board that Irma Rangel, the first Latina elected to the Texas Legislature, and Henry B. Gonzalez, the first Latino from Texas elected to Congress, should be moved from the may-be-taught to the must-be-taught list.

The board will hold public hearings in January.

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  1. Does that mean that the rest of the country is going to have to learn Texas history, since textbook publishers cater to Texas?


  2. “Of 160 people mentioned in the current draft, only 14 are Hispanic — and some of those are Spanish settlers.”

    Wow! Imagine that. Spanish settlers were Hispanic. Who knew? What will the critics complain about next?

  3. I can see why they’d exclude Copernicus. The Texans I’ve known have taken it as a matter of faith that Texas is the center of the universe. No point in confusing kids.

  4. I love Texas. They’re nuts.

  5. Dr. Nash is concerned that his (and Howard Zinn’s) “multi culti” history curriculum won’t be taught.

  6. Kevin Smith says:

    This is hardly a Texas only problem. As a military brat I moved through a lot of districts in a lot of states (nine) and can tell you they all did things I thought a little nuts. Worst was 8th grad ein Rhode Island. Not only did my history class teach me all I ever wanted to know about whaling, my science class taught me all about whales. And nothing else. My art class did scrimshaw in soft plastic (fake ivory). I actually know how to skin a frickin whale and boil it down into oil!

  7. Bill Leonard says:

    Say what you will about the Texas social studies curriculum, I have grandkids in the public school system there. My wife (a former elementary school teacher) and my daughter-in-law (an elementary school teacher now substitute-teaching in the Texas public school system) both are conviced the kids there get a helluva lot better education than they would in the California public schools.

  8. I see, Bill. Do they actually know anything about CA public schools to validate these opinions?