Friday, March 12, 2010

Texas State Board Rejects Teaching About Establishment Clause

The Texas State Board of Education is meeting this week to debate the social studies standards for Texas schools. (Dallas Morning News.) In a surprise decision yesterday, the Board defeated by a 10-5 party line vote a proposal by Democratic member Mavis Knight that government classes teach about the Establishment Clause. Her proposal called for students to examine the reasons the Founding Fathers "protected religious freedom in America by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others." Republicans on the Board said that Knight's proposal was based on an inaccurate interpretation of the Founder's intent and was a half-truth that would play down the importance of religion to the Founders. (Dallas Morning News.) Fox News reports that the final vote on this proposal and others will come in May after they are all posted for public comment.

UPDATE: On Friday, the Texas State Board of Education voted 11-4 to approve a new social studies curriculum which, according to the New York Times, "will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the role of Christianity in American history and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light." Among the numerous changes, Thomas Jefferson was dropped from the list of those who inspired revolutions in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Added to the list of those to be mentioned are St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. The curriculum standards will now be published in the state register for 30 days of public comment. [Thanks to Scott Mange for the lead.]