Revising curriculum, one historical figure at a time

In a preliminary vote, the Texas board on Education decided to streamline its social studies curriculum; changes include the scrapping of material on Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller. Teachers will still be allowed to discuss the two women, however, it is no longer mandatory for them to do so. The final vote, which will affect Texas’s 5.4 million public school students, is set to take place in November.According to the Dallas Morning News, the board explained that removing Clinton and Keller from the curriculum would save teachers an estimated 70 minutes of instructional time. Some teachers think that with a reduced amount of historical figures taught in classes, students would feel less pressured to memorize facts.“Clinton and Keller show that women can aspire and achieve great things despite physical and societal barriers. By glossing over their contributions for cutting just over an hour of teaching, Texas is only hindering the growth and achievements of students,” Junior Carly Chan said. While it may be true that these revisions will save time, many argue that Clinton and Keller should be represented as important historical figures. In fact, in an article by TheWashington Post, disability rights advocate, Haben Girma notes how many students first learn about d i s a b i l i t i e s t h r o u g h learning about Helen Keller’s life, and writes that “deleting Keller from the curriculum can mean deleting disability from the curriculum.” People have also become angry over textbooks in Texas schools referring to the T r a i l of Tears as Native Americans willfully leaving their homelands. In reality, they were forced out of their homelands by the US government and placed into internment camps. This occurring to the Trail of Tears is a glaring example of revisionist history. Calling the Trail of Tears a willful migration undermines what was faced by the Native Americans. The vote to add the influence of “Judeo-Christian” law and Moses in Texas education has also been a large controversy. Education board members are working to revive teaching about how Moses impacted US founding documents. Teaching students about Moses and the “Judeo-Christian” law affecting US founding documents may impart a religious and biased belief of truth and some may argue that it does not effectively educate students on the origin of their country.However, Texas is not the only state that may promote a biased worldview in its curriculum For instance, In 2015, a bill was passed that would cut funding to AP U.S. History classes in Okla. schools. The Republican representatives who introduced the bill claimed the class portrayed the nation’s history too negatively, only teaching “what is bad about America.” In June, changes were proposed that would remove references to gay and civil rights movements, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Klu Lux Klan (KKK) in Mich. public schools. Restrctions on historical people and events can harm students by imparting false or biased claims and taking away their ability to learn about America’s true history and those who have shaped it.