Elizabeth Untama / Gavel Media

On Texas Schools Erasing History

In September, the Texas state school board made changes to the state curriculum in an effort to streamline it. The school board decided to cut out curriculum involving Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller—two incredibly influential women in history.

The board was clear that although Clinton and Keller are being taken out of the curriculum, teachers still have the choice to discuss them. However, due to time constraints and common practice, teachers educate their students for certain exams. If teachers are preparing students for the state history test, they aren’t going to have the time to focus on events or people that are not on the tests. Plus, the board's reasoning still does not excuse the removal of these powerful women. Hillary Clinton is the first and only woman to be a major party presidential candidate and Helen Keller was a deaf-blind activist and author. How and why does the Texas school board get to decide to erase their incredible impacts?

According to the working groups that made these recommendations, these women did not adequately answer questions such as “Did the person trigger a watershed change?," "Was the person from an underrepresented group?," and "Will their impact stand the test of time?.” In what world is Hillary Clinton’s impact not everlasting? She broke one of the biggest glass ceilings in the country and inspired thousands of young women to become active in politics. Perhaps, rather than actually caring about ensuring only important people are taught in the curriculum, these groups instead have an agenda.

This agenda is made more obvious by who the board decided to keep in the curriculum. The working groups had also suggested taking out Reverend Billy Graham, an influential evangelical Christian leader, but of course, the board can’t upset the evangelicals and so students must still learn about him. The state also voted to keep a mention of Moses (yes, the Old Testament biblical figure) as having a key impact on the founding of the United States. Instead, they took out Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher who is considered one of the founders of legal positivism and actually had an impact on the ideals that were the foundations for our country and its legal documents.

The most upsetting part of this curriculum change is that the new curriculum teaches students that the Civil War was fought for states' rights and that slavery was just a small, insignificant piece of it. It is almost unimaginable that students are being falsely taught about individuals and events that helped develop the country that we live in today. There will be a large sect of young students—future developers and leaders—in the American population who will be completely misinformed on a major part of our nation’s history. How can Texas, or any other state, be okay with that?

Such changes seem to be a common trend for states in the South. I believe that certain people—especially southern leaders and decision makers—want to erase history and make America out to be better than it is. Many people seem to think that it is unpatriotic to recognize flaws in our nation and its history, and they would rather just forget about them or pretend they don’t exist. This is incredibly problematic because these events are still impacting this country and the lives of many to this day. To fully accept and understand the country we live in, we must acknowledge events in our history such as the enslavement of African Americans, Japanese internment camps, and the forcible resettling of Native Americans. If we write events like these out of our children’s curriculum, we minimize the lasting impact of such events. Events like these are an integral part of this nation’s history.

America needs to learn how to accept its flaws, acknowledge them, and make actual steps to move past them. Removing parts of history from student’s curriculum that aren’t “America-positive” or are deemed “unimportant” sets a dangerous precedent for our nation's future.

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