The Texas State Board of Education voted Friday to remove seven historical figures from the social studies curriculum taught in public schools. Among them are Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller according to a report from Dallas News. Board members stated that the decision was part of an effort to “streamline” the state’s curriculum.
Hillary Clinton is currently part of the Texas curriculum because she was the first woman to become to be nominated for the role of president by a major political party. In high school history classes, students were required to “evaluate the contributions of significant political and social leaders in the United States.” Those leaders include Clinton, Sandra Day O’Connor, Thurgood Marshall, and Andrew Carnegie.
Helen Keller is currently part of the third-grade curriculum in Texas. Children are taught about her life and accomplishments that include a college degree, published works, and activism efforts despite being deaf, mute, and blind.
Teachers who are on the board that made the recommendation said that the number of historical figures that teachers are required to include in their curriculum is so lengthy that students end up memorizing names and dates instead of really learning anything about each of them. The 15-member group who developed the recommendation created a rubric that was used to identify which historical figures are “essential” for students to learn about and which ones are not. Items on that rubric included whether a figure “triggered a watershed change,” whether they “represented an underrepresented group,” and whether their impact will “stand the test of time.” There were a total of 20 possible points. Hillary Clinton scored five points while Helen Keller scored seven points. The group determined that removing the two women from the Texas curriculum will save about an hour and 10 minutes of teaching time.
Subjects that board members voted to keep in the state curriculum include the “heroism” of those who defended the Alamo. The board also voted to retain content about the influence of Moses on the content of founding documents of the United States and multiple references to Judeo-Christian values. Students will also continue to be required to explain how the “Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict” in the Middle East. Among other historical figures who were voted upon were Barry Goldwater, who the board voted to remove from the curriculum, and Baptist pastor Billy Graham, who they voted to keep in the curriculum. Some historical figures received a perfect 20 score. They include local members of the Texas Legislature, Stephen F. Austin, Barbara Jordan, Sam Houston, and Henry B. Gonzalez.
The vote doesn’t forbid teachers from teaching their students about these figures or topics, it just doesn’t require them to include them any longer. There also are no plans at this time to update textbooks or other teaching materials, so any mention of them in these documents will remain. Friday’s vote was not final but rather a preliminary vote. A final vote will be held in November. Board members are able to amend their recommendations until then.