|Texas Education Agency
Press Release / March 10, 2010
Fox inaccurately reporting
State Board of Education
AUSTIN – AUSTIN – The Fox Network in recent days has repeatedly
broadcast highly inaccurate information about the State Board of Education’s
efforts to adopt the new social studies curriculum standards.
Here are the facts. The direct quotes come from the March 10 broadcast of
Fox & Friends.
Fox: “Texas board of education begins hearings today on proposed changes to
The truth: The State Board of Education today is expected to take a
preliminary vote on updated social studies curriculum standards. The standards
detail what teachers are to teach in each class. New social studies textbooks
are not scheduled to be selected until 2011.
Fox: “So one of the proposed changes is to start history class in the year
The truth: Texas has and always will teach U.S. History from the beginning until
present day. U.S. History through Reconstruction is taught in the eighth grade
and those standards can be found in the middle school standards, which are
called Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Here is a link to the
middle school standards: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.
us/teks/social/MS_TEKS_amended.pdf. U.S. History since 1877 is taught in
Fox: Abraham Lincoln and George Washington have been removed from the
The truth: The standards, not textbook, are before the board this week.
Lincoln is required to be included in the first and eighth grade history classes,
as well as in the U.S. government class. Washington is required to be taught in
kindergarten, first grade, fifth grade and eighth grade. Here is a link to a
document detailing those historical figures, including Lincoln and Washington,
who are required to be taught as part of the standards: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.
us/teks/social/AlphabetizedList_including.pdf. There is another list of
individuals who are suggested for inclusion and it can be found here: http://ritter.
modifications are still possible to both lists as the board debates the standards
during its March and May meeting.
Fox: Independence Day and Veteran’s Day are being deleted from the
The truth: Again, the new history textbooks have not been written yet but they
will be based on the curriculum standards adopted by the board. The
standards currently under consideration cover Independence Day in
kindergarten, second and fifth grades. Veteran’s Day is included in
kindergarten, first, second and fifth grades.
Fox: References to Christmas have been deleted.
The truth: A TEKS review committee briefly recommended removing
Christmas from a list that mentioned one major holiday for each of the world’s
religions. The committee recommended leaving Easter in the document. The
State Board immediately rejected this idea and a reference to Christmas was
restored in the standards months ago and can be found in sixth grade in
Fox: Textbooks adopted in Texas will be used classrooms across the country.
The truth: Each state has its own textbook selection process. Publishers may
offer other states the Texas edition of a book but they are not required to
Citizens can read the standards for themselves at http://www.tea.state.tx.
us/index2.aspx?id=3643. A live webcast of the meeting, which begins at 11 a.
m. today, can be viewed at http://www.texasadmin.com/cgi-bin/tea.cgi.
|Despite being a lead story for Fox News (the only network to provide daily live coverage) all last week, by Thursday night -- when key amendments to the social studies
curriculum were proposed, debated and voted on -- the crowd at the Texas State Board of Education was sparse through the late afternoon and early evening and had
disappeared almost entirely by 8:30 p.m. A at a time when matters of great importance were being decided on the board's preliminary pass through the social studies
curriculum standards adoption process, very few people were in the room. Absent entirely from the meeting by 5:30 p.m. were board members Rene Nunez, Rick
Agosto and Mary Helen Berlanga. Absent often from the board room was Lawrence Allen. All four were elected as Democrats.
From left above, just after the last gavel at almost 10 p.m., from left: SBOE members Don McLeroy, Terri Leo and Barbara Cargill with SBOE chair Gail Lowe. Middle,
SBOE member Ken Mercer just to the right of the blue recyle bin where we last saw Texas Freedom Network's Dan Quinn; next is Texas Eagle Forum's MerryLynn
Gerstenschlager (photo courtesy of the Eagle Forum).
Top right, the night in 2007 when I met Jonathan; it was very late at the Texas Senate; our friends at Texas Public Policy Foundation had given up on their check register
bill and gone home to celebrate the holiday weekend -- but not Jonathan and Houston constitutional lawyer Kelly Coghlan (in white shirt) who, despite discouraging
news, persisted in getting HB 3678 passed. The School Children's Religious Liberties Act, also known as the Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act, guarantees
that Texas public schoolchildren can pray at school if they wish. In signing the bill into law, Gov. Perry said, "Though the United States Supreme Court holds religious
discussion in schools permissible, some Texas schools have been misapplying the law and restricting student’s legal expression. This may be due to outdated
school policy or an unintended consequence of efforts to promote a neutral learning environment." This was not a casual bill Kelly threw against a wall along with
several others in an attempt to please a board of directors and donors; its original genesis was in 1994. His and Jonathan's energy and determination were
something to behold. I learned a lot that night about the importance of only committing to do what we believe in so much that we are willing to persist, no matter what.
Read Kelly's "prayer that stopped a riot."
Below, from left: TFN's Dan Quinn with amendment in left hand; next, TEA staffers providing backup; bottom right, Mavis Knight (in pink hat) returning to her seat.
|Texas Education Agency, Austin
|P E Y T O N W O L C O T T
How we take back our children's education:
one person, one question,
one school at a time.
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|ATTENTION EDUCATORS AND ADMINISTRATORS:
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NOTICE: All individuals mentioned on this site are presumed innocent unless they have been found guilty in a court of law.
|Copyright 1999-2010 Peyton Wolcott
and carry a big stick."
-- Teddy Roosevelt
"Trust but verify."
-- Ronald Reagan
|Just because you can
doesn't mean you should.
|H o w w e t a k e b a c k o u r c h i l d r e n ' s e d u c a t i o n : o n e p e r s o n , o n e q u e s t i o n , o n e s c h o o l a t a t i m e .
S: How you can rebuild
public trust and save at
least $75 per student
this next year.
1. End discretionary
Set an example for your
staff; let them know you
mean business about running
a tighter ship: No trips, no
conferences, no meals, no
credit cards. If you want to
learn more about something,
use Google. Do a webinar.
Read a newsletter. No golf
games with vendors, ever.
No chauffeurs, no rental
cars. Stay home, do your
work and keep your nose
2. Reduce administrative
Go through your
administrative staff roster
and cut every other job,
starting with getting rid of all
PR and marketing. No
advisors, no consultants.
Learn how to really read a
budget. Put your check
register and all wire transfers
No nepotism. Let your wife
and kids earn a living in a
field other than education.
No board members' spouses
working in the district.
Conduct all discussions with
vendors and potential
vendors in the open; invite
your public to watch and ask
questions. Throw away
your contract and work year
by year. Move your chair
off the dais at board
meetings. You're not a team
member with your elected
trustees. You're not equal to
them. They're your boss.
4. No construction.
If you're the rare district
truly experiencing sufficient
growth to justify building
new schools, splinter off that
population and let them start
their own new school district
or charter school. They
might be able to take over an
abandoned church or office
building for much less than
the Taj Mahal you had in
Math table (1st grade: add,
2nd grade: subtract, 3rd
grade multiply, 4th grade
divide) daily drill. You made
sure your own kids learned
the basics at home or with
tutors; why shouldn't all
children have that same
opportunity? Ditto for
phonics. Classical literature.
History, not social studies.
No more block scheduling.
Daily P.E. for all. Emphasize
individual effort and
You're a public servant, not a
Third World dictator.
Practice humility and
gratitude. Remember when
your employees laugh at
your jokes or tell you you're
cool or vendors marvel at
your every utterance that
they're all sucking up to you.
Remember why you got into
education to begin with. Sell
your house in the gated
community and buy one in
the middle of a real
subdivision like your average
parents and taxpayers can
afford. Let yourself be
driven not by the latest
platitude you picked up at the
latest education conference
but by the same wonderful
noble desire to educate kids
that got you into this field.
|Texas Hill Country - Mesquite and Wildflowers
|Fox and Friends
|At left, SBOE
Helen Berlanga (in
black) of Corpus
Christi chats with
the press in the
after her "in a
huff" exit from the
meeting; that's Fox
News' tall Peter
Doocy at far right.
|Above, SBOE members Bob Craig and
Geraldine 'Tincy' Miller stretch their legs.
Below: Texas Education staffers
providing back-up for the meeting.
|By 8:30 not many people
remained; for example,
the only folks occupying
the empty folding chairs
in the center (at left) were
Jonathan Saenz of the
Liberty Institute and
Texas Eagle Forum's
Gerstenschlager (and me).
|At the press table (above, from left): Terrence
Stutz of the Dallas Morning News and TEA
communications director Debbie Ratcliffe;
behind her, Brian Thevenot of the TX Tribune.
(PHOTO--Original source unknown)
|Liberty Institute's Jonathan Saenz (at right)
interviewed by Fox News' Griff Jenkins.
|SBOE member Pat Hardy (left) with
Texas Freedom Network's Dan Quinn;
out of camera range at right is TFN executive
director Kathy Miller.
|According to the National Women's
History Museum, by the end of the
19th century, "Across the nation,
anywhere from 25% to 40% of the
labor force was female." Above,
19th century factory workers in
Indianapolis. Below, 19th century
Johnson & Johnson factory workers.
|Examples of women working
in factories in great numbers
during the 19th century
|Below, more 19th century women in
factories, from the film Hard Work..
|Below, the SBOE board room at about 5:30 on Thursday, March 11, 2010. That's the
board in the large burgundy wing-back swivels in the center of the room; below, at far
left is the TEA backup (general counsel David Anderson and the parliamentarian
against the rear wall. To the left of the door to the SBOE break room (to the left of the
American flag) are the TEA staffers taking minutes and providing other support. To
their immediate right is general seating, often reserved for testifiers.
|Above, the press table. To the right of the camera is Fox's Brian
Wilson; Terrence Stutz (grey hair) sits in the middle, and at far
right is Debbie Ratcliffe, a former reporter.
|Two volumes of Calhoun's "A Social
History" with Goodwill and Texas
State Library tags--plus my post-its.
|LITTLE-KNOWN FACT: The real "Rosie the
Riveter" is Norman Rockwell's Saturday Evening
Post cover (above right), not the iconic J.
Howard Miller "We Can Do It!" poster at left.
|Public Ed Commentary - Social Studies Standards / the Texas SBOE adoption process (03.11.10)
|PAT HARDY, NOW & THEN
Above: I captured this moment at
the 03.11.10 SBOE meeting because
Pat had just conferred with someone
in the audience and I was curious
whom; it turned out to be Sharon
Pope, past president-TCSS,
editor/The Texan, retired director-
secondary social studies/Spring
Branch ISD. Belowt: On July 19,
2007, Pat sits at far left with
audience members Nancy Hester
(curriculum liaison/Texas Council for
the Social Studies, SS
coordinator/Georgetown ISD), Betty
Barringer (curriculum liaison & past
ISD)--and, at far right, Sharon Pope.
|What the Texas SBOE board room looked like at 8:30 p.m. on March 11, 2010:
|The audience in the right side of
the room (at right) was slightly
less spotty; at left, Texas
Freedom Network's Dan Quinn
anchored a spot to the right of
the entrance and the blue
recycling bin; the arm to his
right belongs to TFN executive
director Kathy Miller. You know
you're well-connected politically
when Jason Embry of the Austin
American-Statesman wishes you
a happy birthday on March 8.
|Clearing up rumors about school requirements
and the Texas Board of Education
GAIL LOWE Guest column
Monday February 1, 2010
If a lie is repeated often enough, at some point people will start to believe it.
Such is the case with the notion that the State Board of Education is removing
all mention of Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall from Texas ’ curriculum
standards and textbooks.
As chairman of the board, I can attest that the board has been inundated with
correspondence and phone calls from across the country, demanding that
these individuals not be excised.
But the rumor is untrue.
The State Board of Education has stated publicly at each meeting since July
2009 — when the rumor was fueled by erroneous media reports and e-mail
blasts by national organizations — that our members have no intention of
removing either Chavez or Marshall from the social studies curriculum, which
is currently under review. A vote to adopt these revised standards will come
We believe students should know the legacy of Chavez, who secured better
working conditions for migrant farm workers and co-founded the United
Farm Workers organization. We also expect students to understand the
contributions of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Marshall and his role in the
landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling on civil rights.
Lately, more erroneous reports have emerged that the State Board of
Education was deleting references to Christmas from Texas classrooms.
Although a teacher panel had recommended removing instructional material on
Christmas and the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah from a sixth-grade
requirement that students learn about major religious holidays celebrated
around the world, the board again repeatedly announced we would not
remove these holidays.
Most recently, some newspapers reported that the board had proposed
removal of “many significant Latinos” from the social studies curriculum and
the exclusion of civil rights groups and minorities.
One wonders whether these journalists have actually examined the standards
or whether they prefer to perpetuate these unsubstantiated rumors without
For example, the standard governing “U.S. History Since 1877” requires that
high school students study political issues such as Indian policies, growth of
political machines, growth of labor unions, farm issues and social issues that
affect women and minorities.
Teachers are required to describe the role of political organizations that
promoted the civil rights movement, policies that created the Great Society,
affirmative action and Title IX. Curriculum also must include explanations on
how the contributions of people of various racial, ethnic and religious groups
have shaped American culture. Among those listed for study in this
curriculum are Chavez and Marshall, as well as Susan B. Anthony, Ida B.
Wells, W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey and Martin Luther King Jr.
Our younger students must study the following: the Tuskegee Airmen,
astronaut Ellen Ochoa, singer Lydia Mendoza, Colin Powell, Rosa Parks and
The State Board of Education recognizes that a fundamental principle of our
republic is that all men are created equal, endowed by God with the
unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — regardless of
racial or ethnic heritage.
We believe Texas students should study historically significant men and
women based on the individuals’ contributions to our state and nation, not
based on their surname or skin color. And they must understand that these
ideals are part of what gives our country its unique position in the world.
Our board’s focus is on a general diffusion of knowledge about history and
the free-enterprise system, not on the politics of racial or cultural division.
Gail Lowe is chairwoman of the 15-member State Board of Education. She
lives in Lampasas. Her district includes Waco.
|May 2010 update: Still no response from Pat Hardy.