May 2010 Newsletter

Dear Fellow Educators and Friends,

In May, the State Board of Education (SBOE) held the meeting to finally adopt the new Social Studies Curriculum Standards, which are now a part of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). As you know, this has been a widely publicized process, and a large portion of what has been printed in the media has been untrue. There were efforts made to halt the adoption process, but thankfully, we were able to push through and pass a well-balanced set of standards that we all can be proud of.

In my March newsletter, I mentioned that there were a couple amendments I voted for that were taken to mean something other than they were, and I vowed to look into my votes and to change them at the May meeting if I found that my understanding of them was incorrect. The first eliminated a reference to Thomas Jefferson from World History. Through a discussion with Dr. Edward Countryman, a history professor at Southern Methodist University, I was able to clarify that, in fact, he was an Enlightenment thinker, and I worked with a number of my colleagues on the Board to place Thomas Jefferson back into World History. He is also referenced more than 25 times in the K-12 Social Studies standards, and he is part of the 5th and 8th grade curriculum, and US Government. A second amendment involved religious freedom. Contrary to what some of the media have said, Religious Freedom is a part of US Government, using language from the First Amendment and the Constitution.

In addition to the two issues above, there were a number of claims that I would like to clarify regarding the new standards, as I have received letters and telephone calls from constituents who have read the media reports and are concerned. First, Capitalism is referenced in every social studies class starting in the 2nd grade. It is an important part of why so many people want to live in America, and therefore it has been given significant mention. The Moral Majority, the National Rifle Association and the Contract with America are all listed as being a part of the “conservative resurgence” in the parts of the high school curriculum. They are not given any more emphasis than any other groups referenced in the TEKS. The term “slavery” was not removed from the standards. In fact, it is covered numerous times throughout K-12. And finally, concerns were raised by various groups that not enough minorities, and minority groups and cases were mentioned in the TEKS. I have included a list at the bottom of this newsletter, and I believe you will see that claim is bogus. We worked very hard to come up with a set of standards that are well rounded and balanced. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply untrue.

The SBOE has spent more than a year working to perfect these standards. We held five public hearings and heard days of testimony from professors, teachers, parents and students. We used the collective expertise of the Board, the appointed review panel (made up of a select group of teachers), and the suggestions made in public testimony to come up with an impressive set of standards. Ronald Reagan said it very aptly when he said: “An informed patriotism is what we want…” I believe that without a doubt, that is what we have with these new Social Studies TEKS.

I hope you all have a blessed and safe summer. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns, and you may visit my Web site for news and updates at www.tincymiller.com.

Sincerely,

Geraldine “Tincy” Miller
State Board of Education Member for District 12

Minorities, groups and cases:
Ann Richards
Barack H. Obama
Barbara Jordan
Booker T. Washington
Brown v. Bd of Education
Carlos Espalier.
Carmen Loma Garza
Cesar Chavez
Dolores Huerta
Edgewood I.S.D. v. Kirby,
Ellen Ochoa
George Washington Carver
Harriet Tubman
Hector P. Garcia
Henry B. Gonzalez
Hernandez v. Texas
Hillary Clinton
Irma Rangel
John”Danny” Olivas
Jose Antonio Navarro
Jose Francisco Ruiz
Juan Antonio Badillo
Juan N. Seguin
Lorenzo de Zavala
LULAC
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mendez v. Westminster
NAACP
Oprah Winfrey
Plácido Benavides
Raul A. Gonzalez, Jr.
Roe v. Wade
Roy Benavides
Sandra Day O’Connor
Sonia Sotomayor
Susan B. Anthony
Sweat v. Painter
Thurgood Marshall
Vernon J. Baker
W.E. B. Dubois
Wallace Jefferson