Ed board seeks to clarify Jefferson’s place in curriculum
By David C. Doolittle | Friday, March 19, 2010
The chairwoman of the State Board of Education today released a statement critical of media reports last week that said the board planned to drop Thomas Jefferson from the curriculum framework.
The statement from Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas, said that Jefferson and his legacy are still a large part of the U.S. history curriculum for many grade levels. But Lowe (pictured) said the Founding Father was removed from a list of European Enlightenment thinkers.
“The only individual mentioned more times in the curriculum standards than Thomas Jefferson is George Washington,” Lowe said. “We expect students at the elementary level, in middle school and in high school to study the Founding Fathers and to be well versed in their contributions to our country. That includes Thomas Jefferson and his legacy.”
According to the statement:
Although Jefferson had been listed in a World History standard, the board removed his name from a list of European Enlightenment philosophers that included John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu and Jean Jacques Rousseau.
“This was inappropriate placement of Jefferson’s name,” said Lowe of the World History proposal. “Jefferson was not himself an Enlightenment philosopher, although he was heavily influenced by the writings of these individuals. But to say the State Board of Education has removed him from the TEKS is inaccurate and irresponsible.”
To read the full statement, click here. (see below)
But Dan Quinn, with the Texas Freedom Network, a nonpartisan group that monitors the religious right in Texas, countered that Lowe’s statement misses the point.
“This isn’t a contest to see how many times someone is included in the standards,” Miller said in a statement. “The issue here is why the board would not want students to learn that people struggling for freedom around the world have looked for more than two centuries to Thomas Jefferson and his ideals for inspiration.
“This is yet another example of board members making decisions about things they clearly don’t know anything about instead of listening to teachers and scholars who do,” he said
The social studies Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills will be finalized in May when the board holds its last public hearing and final adoption of the standards.
Once given final approval, the standards will serve as the framework for history, government and economics textbooks and lessons for the 4.7 million Texas public school students. The standards are a broad outline for the curriculum and textbooks used in Texas classrooms, and nothing precludes schools from providing additional information.
In coming weeks, the public will be able to review and comment on the standards at the Texas Education Agency Web site and can send comments to [email protected]
TEA website: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/
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