Letter emailed Feb. 18, 2010 to Dr. Rosemary Morrow, director of Social Studies, Division of Curriculum, Texas Education Agency, Austin, Texas, in response to her email to Ron Maiers regarding his concerns expressed in a telephone conversation about proposed revisionis to American history textbooks. (Dr. Morrow's email to Mr. Maiers and his email response follow, along with an original email sent Feb. 16, 2010 to the full membership of the Texas State Board of Education.)
Dear Dr. Morrow:
I appreciate your Feb. 16 response to Ron Maiers; but concerns remain.
On Mike Huckabee’s Feb. 6 program, Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel and Liberty University School of Law said the TSBOE would consider proposed revisions to U.S. history textbooks in March; and he urged Americans to contact board members to voice concerns. Accordingly, I wish to say: I believe that revisionist history destroys the American identity, robs our students of a sure sense of their American citizenry, and ill prepares students to be American citizens in the global society.
A Liberty Counsel press release reports further that the proposed social studies guidelines will have final reading and adoption in May.
Dean Staver summed up, essentially, regarding Texas' purchasing power as it influences availability of textbooks for other states to purchase: As goes Texas, so goes the nation. Dean Staver noted that board member Cynthia Dunbar of Liberty University School of Law stands opposed to suggested revisions -- sweeping and trivializing changes that apparently could stay in place for a decade, if approved for the next school year. It seems Ms. Dunbar leads an effort to convince a majority of the 15-member board to vote to preserve a traditional, patriotic presentation of American history in school textbooks, rather than take a revisionist approach to diminish our unique and exceptional American story in deference to a global view.
In reviewing the 148-page "Instructional Materials Current Adoption Bulletin" for the year 2009-2010, I see strong instructional support for music, languages, and the arts, health and technical education, and career preparedness; but only four U.S. History textbook titles appear (page 105), and they are advanced placement. Otherwise, five AP World History titles show, with seven for AP European History (page 106). The four U.S. Government and three AP U.S. Government and Politics textbooks likely are narrow in scope and would not instruct in American history, per se. Moreover, the one title (page 107) for AP Comparative Government and Politics and four titles for Economics with Emphasis on the Free Enterprise System likely do not give students a view of the unique American experiment and experience in these arenas.
I am no expert, but I am well educated in the public schools and state university systems; and I come from a family of educators. I believe that American history grounds us in our homes, our communities, our nation and the world; and it is vital that students from kindergarten through graduation learn key age-appropriate and expanding American history concepts in order to develop a mature understanding of our unique experience among the nations of the world.
We Americans share an exceptional heritage that traces from our families to nearly every country in the world – an experience of trial, courage and achievement in which all of our students have the right and privilege to participate. Students should have the opportunity to gain a full understanding of their troubled but beautiful American identity. They need to know that people like them have acted with values rooted in a tradition of faith and clear thinking and based in a strong Constitution to right our country's greatest wrongs and take her repeatedly from crises to new heights of greatness.
These are concepts our students need to learn in order to esteem their own families and communities, their nation and themselves. One cannot love what one does not know. Hire teachers who know and love American history. Give them sound textbooks. Teach our students traditional, patriotic American history. Give them the chance to love their country.
Thank you for your consideration.
I pray for your guidance.
Nancy E. Thoerig
Mount Savage, MD
Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 3:49 PM
Subject: Re: Texas Social Studies Standards
"IN GOD WE TRUST"
Just Wanted to tell you thanks for forwarding this information to me. I feel that every citizen MUST stand for the freedoms which all out generations before us fought for and we also must continue the fight so that our generation and the ones after us can live in a free Nation
We must never give up the title of "AMERICANS" and we must pass this idenity on for generations to come.
Sent: Tue, February 16, 2010 3:20:36 PM
Subject: Texas Social Studies Standards
Dear Ron Maiers:
The State Board of Education (SBOE) in Texas is currently reviewing the social studies standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). It is from these standards that a proclamation will be issued in a year or so for instructional materials that include textbooks for Texas public schools. The SBOE makes decision for Texas public schools and does not decide standards or instructional materials for private schools or homeschoolers within the state and does not make decisions for other states.
Drafts of the revised standards from social studies Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) review committees can be found at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=364. The State Board of Education (SBOE) met in January and made amendments to Kindergarten through Grade 8 and high school U.S. history. These amended documents will be posted on the same link in early March.
By examining the standards drafts, you will find that there is a history, citizenship, and government strand at every grade level. U.S history is taught at Grades 5 and 8 and high school. U.S. government is required for high school graduation. There are no plans to remove the courses nor radically change the content of the courses. Standards are generally intended to be broad concepts, not specifics of names, places, etc. These specifics are generally included at the level below the standards, curriculum writing, which is left to local school districts in Texas.
If you have any further questions regarding social studies standards, please contact me at (512) 463-9581 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rosemary Morrow, PhD, Director of Social Studies
Division of Curriculum
Texas Education Agency
1701 North Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78701
Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 5:19 PM
Subject: textbook revisions
Dear Texas State Board of Education members,
Texas' purchasing power determines textbooks that other state boards of education order for their students. Therefore, your decisions regarding textbook revisions affect all students across the country.
When you consider revisions, please -- along with portrayals of important historic scandals and mistakes -- respectfully present the fullness and beauty of the American experience, the courage and commitment of our founders and our prominent historical heroes, so that our students may understand the sacrifice and witness of our predecessors.
Only with an understanding of the past -- our countrymen's struggles that are grounded in exceptional primciples and common sense, the experience known as the American experiment -- can our students embrace and cherish their unique heritage in the world. Only with love for this country, nurtured through knowledge of its people and accomplishments, can the well-informed American citizen develop a realistic view of his or her place in the world.
Ours is a legacy that deserves reverence and pride. America is the envy of the world, a light of truth and justice, the desire of the oppressed and the destination of generations of immigrants. From its troubled beginings, this country and its people have been blessed and guided by divine providence to realize uncommon greatness.
I pray that wisdom will guide you.
Thank you for your consideration.
Nancy E. Thoerig
Mount Savage, Maryland