Digital Age Spells Need for More Diligent Textbook Reviewers


Dear Friends,

An informative article written by guest columnist for the Houston News and Texas State Board of Education Member District 8, Barbara Cargill former Chair.

Digital Age Spells Need for More Diligent Textbook Reviewers

You may have heard the recent story in the news about the attentive Pearland High School freshman, Coby Burren, who discovered an error in his World Geography textbook.

In a section titled “Patterns of Immigration,” a caption on a map stated, “The Atlantic Slave Trade between the 1500s and 1800s brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.” The student told his mom, and she posted it on Facebook. As you can imagine, there has been a lot of outrage and concern.

The good news is that publisher McGraw-Hill pledged immediately to “update this caption to describe the arrival of African slaves in the U.S. as a forced migration and emphasize that their work was done as slave labor.”

The bad news is that such an error was missed by the publishers’ review process and by the state textbook review process. Both involved experts with impressive credentials in history, and in Texas the review also included hundreds of citizen volunteers who reviewed the books independently.

The state review is an open process; anyone can review submitted textbooks. Thanks to diligent reviewers, hundreds of other errors were found, reported and corrected. So how could this egregious error have been missed?

Senate Bill 6, passed in 2011, allows publishers to submit digital or printed versions of their textbooks to participate in the state review process. Digital textbooks are not like the printed textbooks that may still come home in your kids’ backpacks! The student has links to open, videos to watch, academic games to play, activities and lesson resources to study, and assessments to take. Needless to say, reviewing a digital textbook is very different than the old pre-Senate Bill 6 days of reviewing only printed copies, which is difficult enough with many books being hundreds of pages long.

 Even more difficult to review are online textbooks that involve a lot of clicking and searching, leading to more content, much of which is interactive.

 The McGraw-Hill World Geography book was a digital submission. For a reviewer, navigating to the erroneous map caption would have required clicking on the chapter, clicking on 1 of 4 lesson resources, and then further clicking on 1 of 16 ancestries listed on the map. Only then did the incorrect content appear in a pop-up screen.

 I am not trying to excuse the error, but this explanation at least gives a picture of the challenges involved in reviewing digital textbooks.

That is why we need sharp-eyed, conscientious people like Coby Burren and his mom to report errors they find. It is unfortunate that the textbook included the offensive wording to begin with, but the publisher has done the right thing by correcting it. You can rest assured that the SBOE-approved history textbooks are excellent resources for our students and teachers.

In this new age of technology where we see school districts greatly increasing their use of digital instructional materials, we need and appreciate your help to ensure complete accuracy in our students’ textbooks.

Barbara Cargill can be contacted at


Tincy Miller

SBOE Member, District 12

Exclusive: Stanley Kurtz: AP U. S. History Battle Worse Than Common Core


Dear Friends,

An informative interview with Stanley Kurtz by Dr. Susan Berry author at Breitbart News.  Mr. Kurtz is an American conservative commentator.  He graduated from Haverford College and holds a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Harvard University. He did his field work in India and taught at Harvard and the University of Chicago. Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a former adjunct fellow with Hudson Institute, with a special interest in America’s “culture wars.” He has published extensively on family life, child rearing, religion, and psychology in various parts of the world.

“Exclusive: Stanley Kurtz: AP U. S. History Battle Worse Than Common Core”

In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, conservative “culture war” commentator Stanley Kurtz discussed his recent work in reviewing the Advanced Placement U.S. History framework and why he believes this battle is even worse for America than that over the Common Core standards.

Kurtz recently disagreed with Wall Street Journal deputy editor Daniel Henninger that conservatives had won a victory over the College Board’s decision to make some changes to its Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) framework. Henninger wrote that the College Board — led by president and “architect” of the Common Core standards David Coleman — had ditched its left-wing bias as a result of conservative backlash.

 During a forum on federalism in New Hampshire, where the senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center spoke about APUSH, Kurtz tells Breitbart News: “The College Board claims that they fixed it, but that’s bogus.”

“Yes, they took out some of the more biased language, but the underlying approach still leans very far to the left and, more importantly, the College Board hasn’t really revised the textbooks or the exam itself, the course syllabi or any of the guts of the actual course,”he explains. “So, most of the changes the College Board is touting were just for public consumption.”

Kurtz mapped out how the issue of AP courses is of far greater magnitude than some might think:

The APUSH battle is the leading edge of what is rapidly becoming a national curriculum controlled by the left. The reason why APUSH is the tip of the iceberg on this is because the AP program is run by the College Board and that program is now expanded to cover about one-third of America’s students. However, the College Board — and some of the government folks who subsidize the College Board — want to expand it even further. They’d like to see it move up to maybe 40 percent, 50 percent of American students.

The AP program covers every single subject in the curriculum, and we’re talking about one-third, and maybe 40 percent, 50 percent of American students, perhaps more. So, if you control the curriculum for every single AP course, you have in effect created a national curriculum. You have made an “end run” around the states and the districts and, of course, the voters and parents they represent, and you have literally handed control of America’s curriculum to the leftist college professors who advise the College Board.

Kurtz, whose writing has appeared in many publications, including National Review and the Wall Street Journal, states the battle with the College Board is only just beginning.

 What’s happening is the College Board is issuing these long curriculum guidelines for every single one of its AP courses. APUSH was just one of the earliest ones,”he explains. “Now, the College Board has released a curriculum framework for AP European History, and that one is every bit as bad as the original APUSH framework.”

He continues:

AP European History focuses on the evils of colonialism and the supposed evils of capitalism, and it has very little to say about the problems of socialism. It has very little to say about religion — and when it does it’s negative — and very little to say about the development of representative democracy, which used to be a focus. We used to study the Magna Carta and the development of Parliament in England. In future years, we’ll have a framework on U.S. Government and Politics, World History, Literature — eventually the whole curriculum.

Kurtz said that the AP frameworks in many subjects will go beyond the 30 to 50 percent of students who are eligible to take the advanced level courses.

“A lot of teachers double up and they teach some regular classes and some AP classes,” he continues. “And if they are doing one curriculum for their AP classes, they’re going to draw on the basic ideas for their other classes.”

“In addition, the College Board is now pushing something called ‘Pre-AP,’” he adds, “where now they’re going to try to set you up as early as sixth grade for the future AP courses you’ll be taking.”

Kurtz believes that competition for the College Board is essential to countering the monopolyover the AP program.

“If you’re going to hold the AP program, and there’s no competition, and you set the curriculum, you have just set the curriculum for the entire country,” he says. “And you can push it down to grade levels. So, even the Common Core doesn’t go quite this far.”

“In a sense, if David Coleman’s Common Core falls apart — and it’s quasi falling apart right now — he can achieve all of his ends and maybe even more successfully through controlling the AP program,” he warns.

Kurtz hopes interest will soon develop in starting another testing company that will compete with the College Board.

“We need to start a company that’s advised by the very best traditional scholars, the kind of people who will provide a real alternative to the left-leaning scholars who advised the Common Core,”he explains. “If and when that happens, I hope and believe that some time within the next year or two it will happen, then we will need the support of the public.”

“There will be action at the federal and state levels that could be taken to open up that AP testing market to competition,” he foresees, adding:

What we’ve got right now is a massive set of government subsidies to the AP program which has enriched the College Board and made it untouchable. So, if a state or district is upset with the College Board, there’s very little they can do. Even if they were to threaten to withdraw, the College Board is so rich it wouldn’t really hurt them.

“It would be a different matter if the money that goes to pay testing fees for these kind of tests had to be competed for by different companies,” he says. “Right now, though, what we in effect have is a government-supported monopoly.”

“It’s a roundabout way for the Obama administration — it isn’t directly controlling AP — but through pushing on these subsidies,” Kurtz continues, but notes that Republicans are involved in subsidizing the AP program as well.

“In effect, they’re handing David Coleman the power to set a national curriculum regardless of what any state or school district does,” he observes. “It completely flies in the face of any constitutional notion of federalism. The founders would be rolling over in their graves. We have to start debating this as a nation. With luck, we’ll have some competition and then the public will really have to mobilize.” 



Tincy Miller

SBOE,District 12

Why Common Core is Bad for American Education


Dear Friends,

A timely and interesting new book on Common Core written by Pioneer Institute, an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.


‘Drilling through the Core’

The Common Core K-12 standards have gone from “inevitable” to “poisonous.” A new book adds to the woes of Common Core’s supporters by bringing together academic critiques from over a dozen scholars who provide an independent, comprehensive book-length treatment of this national standards initiative. The book arrives at a moment when popular support for the Common Core is declining.

Two national polls show widespread opposition; repeal and rebranding efforts are underway in numerous states; it has become toxic for presidential candidates; and the number of states participating in Common Core-aligned testing consortia has dwindled. The Common Core standards have lost credibility with the general public, parents, and teachers.
Pioneer Institute’s timely new book, Drilling through the Core, puts into a single volume the results of five years of research.
Common Core standards were developed by a group of Washington, D.C.-based education trade organizations and pushed on the states by the federal government through the Obama administration’s Race to the Top initiative.
“The impact of the research in this book illustrates the power of ideas in public debates,” said Jim Stergios, executive director of Pioneer Institute and author of the book’s preface. “The key chapters highlight Common Core’s inferior academic quality and illegal federal government overreach. Its unfunded mandates impose prohibitive costs on states and localities, even as the money is spent driving an agenda that aims for mediocrity.”

This book addresses questions often asked by three main stakeholders:

  • For parents, are the Common Core standards academically rigorous?
  • For states, how much will it cost to implement?
  • For Congress, are the Common Core standards and federally funded tests legal?

Drilling through the Core examines Common Core’s dramatic reduction of classic literature; its failure to prepare students for college courses in science and math; and its flawed, “cold-reading” approach to historical documents. The book also refutes the claim that adoption of Common Core was “state-led” and “voluntary.” The federal government has illegally spent $360 million to fund two Common Core-aligned testing consortia.
The introduction by Peter Wood to Drilling through the Core summarizes the debate, and serves as an appropriate prelude for the scholarly chapters by national experts on the academic, fiscal, and legal features of these controversial standards.
“The Common Core is another in a long line of failed attempts to reform American education by wresting control away from local and state authorities,” said Dr. Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars. “The Common Core beguiled both liberals and conservatives with its promise of bypassing both public debate and close examination of the details. In the end, those efforts to avoid public discussion proved to be its weakness. The scholars featured in this book over and over again reveal fatal mistakes that would never have occurred if the Common Core’s proponents had trusted the American people to make their own decisions.”
Three chapters examine the English language arts standards and how they shape student learning generally, in the area of poetry and in the discipline of American history. Three additional chapters focus on the mathematics standards, comparing Common Core’s inferior academic quality to math standards from various high-standards states. Additionally, they examine whether these national standards prepare students to undertake college work in science, technology, engineering, and math.
One chapter assesses whether the Common Core and the process by which states adopted the standards violate federal laws. A final chapter estimates that the transition to Common Core-aligned standards and testing will cost nearly $16 billion.


Click the link below to watch the video.




Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Educators Who Say Test Results Are A Valuable Road Map


Dear Friends,

A very informative article in the Dallas Morning News Sunday August 23, 2015 written by William McKenzie, an editorial director for the George W. Bush Institute.

All teachers hate standardized tests?   FALSE

“William McKenzie Found Educators

Who Say Results Are A Valuable Road Map”

Today’s headlines are often full of voices that decry the tests in our schools, especially standardized tests. You might think there are virtually no teachers, principals or superintendents who see the value in using tests and the data they produce to improve classrooms.

But that’s not the case. There are educators who view annual, independent tests as something other than the agent of all evil. They believe information from those exams, plus results from classroom tests, can help students learn.

I have spent time the last few months talking with educators who see testing this way. Each one, independent of the others, has made the same point: Both students and teachers can benefit from testing.

One of those educators is Jessie Helms, a third-grade teacher in the Dallas Independent School District. “If you don’t know where they are, how do you get them where they need to be?” Helms asked as we sat in her classroom at Ascher Silberstein Elementary in southeast Dallas. “How can you help them be successful?”

Helms, now 27, came to Silberstein in 2012 as a rookie educator. She was skeptical of the emphasis on testing students, including standardized exams. “I came here not a big fan of testing,” she said.

That changed once she got her students’ first set of six weeks tests back. She realized she had not prepared them well enough in math. “I saw that I hadn’t given them the tools to think past third-grade math.” Soon, she came to realize the importance of testing and, as she says, “how it builds classrooms.”

For one thing, good, well-constructed tests create an incentive to “teach higher.” She gives her students difficult problems so they can learn to solve them long before they take any test. Together, they talk about the problems, and students work on showing they can perform functions such as addition, subtraction and multiplication in the same word problem.

Strategies such as “teaching higher” increase the chances that tests will not trip up a child. Instead, they allow students to demonstrate what they know, even if taking a test makes some of them nervous.

Helms’ attitude and approach reflect a generation of educators who actually believe in assessing students regularly and using the results, gleaned from pilloried standardized tests such as Texas’ STAAR exams, to guide their instruction and help students meet higher standards.

The attitude is common in high-performing charter school networks such as Uplift Education in Dallas, as well as in leading public schools. Educators don’t shun tests. They use them as tools to drive achievement.

That includes Silberstein, a school where almost 98 percent of students come from economically disadvantaged homes. The campus earned four of five distinctions on the state’s 2015 ranking system. Similarly, it earned five of six distinctions in Texas’ 2014 rankings. By anyone’s definition, that is a high-performing school, one that shows poverty need not limit achievement.

Since we first talked in the spring, Helms has changed schools. She starts the fall semester as a third-grade teacher at Annie Blanton Elementary School in Pleasant Grove. Blanton is one of seven underperforming campuses that former Dallas Superintendent Mike Miles put in a cluster with targeted resources to accelerate student achievement.

Laura Garza, Helms’ former principal at Silberstein, is now leading Blanton. She, too, believes in using testing data to help improve student achievement, and she plans to take the data-driven Silberstein approach to Blanton.

“Data speaks to your teaching,” she says.

In her previous role as a reading coach, Garza would use data as a tool to help her teachers develop. At Silberstein, she used assessments created by teachers, in addition to the district’s twice-yearly independent exams and STAAR tests, to get a better reading of the students’ strengths and weaknesses.

The school would get data in late December, immediately after the first installment of DISD’s own exams. The campus would break down the results to see where it needed to improve before STAAR exams in the spring and the second installment of district tests at the end of the year.

Silberstein didn’t hide the data, either. Garza and her team put it up on the walls. Data was broken down by classes and grade level. Teachers then could use the information to work on gaps and build up their strengths. Garza sees helping teachers learn how to use data as a big part of her job.

None of this could be done without testing kids. “If you don’t test, how do you know if your work is worth a grain of salt?” she asked. “Doing away with standardized tests could lead to mediocrity.”

Dionel Waters, the principal at Paul Dunbar Learning Center near Fair Park, takes a similar approach. One of the first things you see upon entering his school is a data wall that makes classroom performance immediately transparent.

Dunbar teachers also have access to a data room, where results from the district’s achievement tests and other exams are posted on the walls. The goal is to to help teachers draw from testing data as they shape their instruction. His school has not reached Silberstein’s level of academic achievement, but the data helps in securing resources.

Like Helms, Waters favors “teaching higher,” so state tests are not such a big deal. When he first started teaching at Uplift’s Hampton Prep, he didn’t look at old state tests. He focused on the state standards, which detail what the State Board of Education wants students to know. “If we teach standards to fidelity, tests will take care of themselves,” he said.


To be sure, Waters, Garza and Helms think testing can be overdone. They’re right.

Schools and districts can overdo “benchmark exams” that they give during a year to see if students are on track. Those exams might not be accurately aligned to the state’s standards, and they might be administered too frequently. A Center for American Progress study found one Kentucky district tested students 20 times a year, while the state required only four. Overloading students with too many benchmark exams is not an effective use of their time or school resources.

Still, educators like Helms, Garza and Waters see value in tests and the data they produce. And they are not alone.

The New York Times recently reported that “some school districts, taking a cue from the business world, are fully embracing metrics, recording and analyzing every scrap of information to improve school operations. Their goal is to help improve everything from school bus routes and classroom cleanliness to reading comprehension and knowledge of algebraic equations.”

What’s more, a recent poll conducted by the national Teach + Plus organization found that 80 percent of teachers agree “that part of the value of tests is to have objective, comparable data that allows them to see how their students are progressing toward state standards.”

And a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll revealed recently that Hispanic parents in California consider standardized tests important. Fifty-five percent of them believe such tests improve education, the most supportive of any group in the state.

Tests and the data they produce are no magic bullet. In fact, there are no magic bullets in education.

But there are strategies that can make a difference in students’ lives. Well-constructed exams, particularly independent ones, are among them. They provide a road map for educators and students alike.

In fact, those who know how to use testing data can worry less about exams, as counter-intuitive as that sounds. They don’t have to “teach to the test” or cram information in at the last minute. They use the data to prepare ahead of time, focusing their schools and classes on teaching and learning. Tests are only a tool of that teaching and learning.

Then, when the state’s annual tests roll around, students have a chance to show what they’ve learned. “When we use data effectively,” Helms concluded, “we prepare them. They are ready for the tests. I’m OK with testing because I’ve seen kids do well.”

You can reach William Mckenzie at


Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Hey, Conservatives, You Won


Dear Friends,

In The Wall Street Journal Thursday August 27, 2015, “Wonder Land” columnist Daniel Henninger writes that The College Board’s about-face on U.S. history is a significant political event.  Mr. Henninger is an American journalist. He serves as the Deputy Editorial Page Director of The Wall Street Journal.


Hey, Conservatives, You Won

In this summer of agitated discontent for American conservatives, we can report a victory for them, assuming that is still permitted.

Last year, the College Board, the nonprofit corporation that controls all the high-school Advanced Placement courses and exams, published new guidelines for the AP U.S. history test. They read like a left-wing dream. Obsession with identity, gender, class, crimes against the American Indian and the sins of capitalism suffused the proposed guidelines for teachers of AP American history.

As of a few weeks ago, that tilt in the guidelines has vanished. The College Board’s rewritten 2015 teaching guidelines are almost a model of political fair-mindedness. This isn’t just an about-face. It is an important political event.

The earlier guidelines characterized the discovery of America as mostly the story of Europeans bringing pestilence, destructive plants and cultural obliteration to American Indians. The new guidelines put it this way: “Mutual misunderstandings between Europeans and Native Americans often defined the early years of interaction and trade as each group sought to make sense of the other. Over time, Europeans and Native Americans adopted some useful aspects of each other’s culture.”

The previous, neo-Marxist guidelines said, “Students should be able to explain how various identities, cultures, and values have been preserved or changed in different contexts of U.S. history, with special attention given to the formation of gender, class, racial, and ethnic identities.” That has been removed. The revised guidelines have plenty about “identity” but nothing worth mounting a Super PAC to battle.

Also new: “The effort for American independence was energized by colonial leaders such as Benjamin Franklin, as well as by popular movements that included the political activism of laborers, artisans, and women.” The earlier version never suggested the existence of Franklin—or Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison or anyone resembling a Founding Father. Now they’re back. Even the Federalist Papers were fished out of the memory hole.

Most incredible of all, the private enterprise system is, as they say, reimagined as a force for good: “As the price of many goods decreased, workers’ real wages increased, providing new access to a variety of goods and services.” There’s an idea that has fallen out of favor the past six years.

The final sentence of my June 11 column on the previous guidelines, “Bye, Bye, American History,” said: “The College Board promises that what it produces next month will be ‘balanced.’ We await the event.”

The College Board delivered on its promise. The new guidelines, which convey an understanding of American history to thousands of high-school students, are about as balanced as one could hope for. The framework itself, on the College Board website inside the AP tab, is worth a look.

What happened?

To Bernie-Sanders progressives, what happened was a sellout. For, “College Board Caves to Conservative Pressure.”

What really happened was the resurrection of an American idea the left wants to extinguish—federalism. Some states began to push back. Legislative opposition to the guidelines formed in Georgia, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Nebraska, Tennessee, Colorado and Texas.

Stanley Kurtz, of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, has argued that the College Board was concerned that its lucrative nationwide testing franchise would be at risk if states began to replace it with their own courses. I think he’s right.

What remains, however, is that the College Board, after somehow thinking it could produce a politically tendentious document that would have established “identity politics” as the official narrative of U.S. history, ended up with a set of guidelines that deftly straddles the political center.

This is a significant event. It marks an important turn in the American culture wars that exploded at the Republican convention in 1992 with the religious right, a movement that faded but whose sense of political alienation has remained alive, whether in the original tea-party groups or today with voters adopting the improbable Donald Trump.

What these disaffected people have held in common is the sense that their animating beliefs in—if one may say so—God and country were not merely being opposed but were being rolled completely off the table by institutions—“Washington,” the courts, a College Board—over which they had no apparent control.

They were not wrong.

The original AP U.S. history guidelines were a case study in the left’s irrepressible impulse, here or elsewhere, to always go too far. The left always said it just wanted “to be heard.” They were, but it was never enough. The goal was to make the American center-right simply shut up. Now, with campus trigger-warnings and microagression manias, the left is telling liberals to shut up too. They rule, and you do. Ask the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Guess what? In a country of 319 million “diverse” people, that is really a hard political goal to lock down, no matter how many institutions are captured.

Is the country polarized? How could it not be? Is there a solution? Take a look at how the AP U.S. history mess was handled. Someone rewrote those guidelines into a reasonable political accommodation. It is not impossible.

Write to Daniel Henninger at



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

“Competition for the College Board, Now More Than Ever”


Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins. Emmett McGroarty is Education Director at American Principles Project. Jane Robbins is a senior fellow at American Principles Project.

“Competition for the College Board, Now More Than Ever” 

When teachers and scholars began to speak out against its 2014 Advanced Placement U. S. History (APUSH) Framework, the College Board initially dismissed the critics as extremists unworthy of attention. The response changed somewhat when the Texas State Board of Education challenged the curriculum’s leftist tenor.

Texas’s status as a major supplier of lucrative AP students prompted the College Board to move into Phase Two of its defense, hiring high-powered lobbying firms to persuade critics that the Framework didn’t say what it said. Phase Three – agreeing to consider the objections and revise the Framework – didn’t happen until the College Board learned of serious discussions to create competition to its near-monopoly on advanced placement courses.

So now, only a week or so before many APUSH teachers and students head back to school, the College Board released its “updated” Framework. Problem solved? Not quite.

To be sure, the College Board has now excised the most egregious statements in the Framework (for example, the claim that Manifest Destiny was about “racial and cultural superiority” and that the Cold War ended only when Ronald Reagan ceased his “bellicose” behavior and made friends with Gorbachev). It has also toned down the suffocating emphasis on identity-group conflict and the leftist trinity of race, gender, and class as the lens through which all of American history must be viewed.

To address the absence of important individuals, events, and concepts, the College Board has now plugged in a mention of some of the most glaring omissions. American exceptionalism? Check. James Madison? Check. D-Day? Check. Rev. Martin Luther King? Check.

But underlying problems remain. The updated Framework, though certainly less problematic than the original, continues to emphasize global perspectives, cultural blending and conflict, and other themes dear to the hearts of leftist college professors. But the worst problem is not what it contains, but what it doesn’t.

Yes, the concept of American exceptionalism is mentioned, but there’s no explanation of what that means or why it’s important. History professor Larry Schweikart has elucidated the four primary components of American exceptionalism: “1) a Christian, mostly Protestant religious heritage; 2) a heritage of common law; 3) a free market; and 4) private property with titles and deeds.” As Dr. Schweikert notes, “While #3 did not come along arguably until the nation was well-founded, the other three were at work in American colonial history as nowhere else in the world, not even England.”

That is what is meant by American exceptionalism — but an APUSH teacher who sticks to this updated Framework will never transmit that understanding to his or her students. Nor will those students understand the riveting stories of the heroes, entrepreneurs, and yes, villains of American history, because those stories simply aren’t there. All emphasis is on de-personalized forces and movements. Merely mentioning a person or a battle, without fleshing out the significance, is inadequate.

The revised Framework, as APUSH teacher Elizabeth Altham concludes, perpetuates the problem of elevating “forces” over individuals. This emphasis, she says, makes it harder to teach the course in a way that engages students and makes history come alive for them.

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the updated Framework was written by people acting under compulsion, who didn’t really believe in what they were forced to include.

So we’re left, still, with an attempt by the College Board to construct its own history curriculum and impose it on the states, to the detriment of state history standards. And since the update was released so late, the new textbooks cannot be revised in time for the new school year (if they ever will be); nor can teachers be given meaningful professional development about the changes.

The obvious motive behind the College Board’s revisions was to tamp down discussion of competition. No doubt some conservatives will accept the new version, unconcerned about the motive as long as the product is better. But APUSH is only one AP course undergoing revision. AP European History, for example, is next up – and that Framework is cut from the same leftist mold as the original APUSH Framework. Will it take another 18-month outcry from the public to force the College Board to backtrack on that as well? And on every other course that may be politicized in the future?

The only solution to this problem is competition. If other companies enter the lucrative advanced-placement market, states and schools will be able to choose the products they prefer. They may choose the College Board’s AP if they like it. But they should have a choice. The saga of APUSH should remove all doubt about that.

Read more:



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

APUSH Revisions Won’t Do: The College Board Needs Competition


Dear Friends,

An informative article written by Stanley Kurtz.  Mr. Kurtz is an American conservative commentator.  He graduated from Haverford College and holds a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Harvard University. He did his field work in India and taught at Harvard and the University of Chicago. Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a former adjunct fellow with Hudson Institute, with a special interest in America’s “culture wars.” He has published extensively on family life, child rearing, religion, and psychology in various parts of the world.


“APUSH Revisions Won’t Do: The College Board Needs Competition”


The College Board has just published a revision of its controversial AP U.S. history framework. The revision is designed to meet the concerns of the 2014 framework’s many critics. As one of those critics, I want to give a preliminary response. This is also the first in what will be a series of posts on the new AP U.S. history framework and related issues. Based on a preliminary reading of the Thematic Learning Objectives and the first two historical periods, I would say that the revisions do not allay my concerns about the College Board’s approach to AP U.S. history. The College Board has removed some of the framework’s most egregiously biased formulations, yet the basic approach has not changed. Since the College Board has said that the revised framework will not require modifications to textbooks, there is reason to believe that we are looking at largely cosmetic changes. The textbooks are what students actually see.  If the latest revisions won’t change the texts, they can’t mean much. Based on my reading of the first two periods, even if the College Board does call for textbooks to be revised along the lines of the new framework, the changes would be trivial. The first historical period (1491-1607), for example, is still shaped by a “three worlds meet” approach descended from the leftist National History Standards of 1994. In other words, the revised framework remains aggressively relativist, avoiding consideration of the deeper cultural sources of Western expansion and success. The emphasis instead is on mutual interaction and influence among European settlers, Native Americans, and African slaves. There was mutual influence among these three groups, of course, but the core story of how the Renaissance individualism, learning, innovation, science, and enterprise sparked a world-changing cultural transformation is evaded. The continuing emphasis on material causes (eg. international trade in new foodstuffs) keeps the focus off of uncomfortable issues of cultural influence and development. While the College Board has added a theme on American and National Identity—and even briefly used the phrase “American Exceptionalism”—I’ve so far seen little new substance to fill out the meaning of that theme. There is still no treatment of John Winthrop’s City on a Hill speech, or of the broader point that the New England settlers saw their venture as a model for the world. New England town meetings are briefly referenced, yet without any explanation of how this led to a tradition of localism in America quite different from Europe. Merely referencing the words, “American exceptionalism” isn’t enough. To be meaningful, the concept has to be filled out with powerful examples. Clearly, the College Board is worried about competition.  Its initial response to critics was to dismiss their concerns. Only after I raised the issue of competition here at NRO—and especially after the Georgia State Senate passed a resolution calling for competition in AP testing—did the College Board change its tune, acknowledge errors, and promise revisions. Whether for self-interested motives or not, of course, it’s nice to see that the College Board has removed some of the most egregious and controversial formulations from its framework. Unfortunately, the revised framework’s overall approach continues to give short shrift to important themes in American history. The only real solution is to nurture competition in AP testing. Whatever limited improvement we’re now seeing is due to the specter of competition. Only competition in AP testing can restore choice to the states and school districts that by rights ought to control their own curricula. Without competition, whatever the College Board says, goes. Competition is the real issue. No company likes rivals, but the College Board is more than an ordinary monopoly. There is an ideological as well as an economic motivation behind the College Board’s actions. Run by Common Core architect David Coleman, the College Board is committed to creating a de facto national curriculum. That is why it is slowly but surely substituting lengthy and highly directive curricular frameworks for brief topical outlines in every single one of its AP courses. As a program of federal subsidies has massively expanded the population of students taking AP courses, the College Board has seized the opportunity to gain effective control of the nation’s high school curriculum by issuing detailed teaching frameworks.  This amounts to an end-run around the states and school districts that by rights ought to be in charge of what’s taught in the schools. In the absence of competition in AP testing, the College Board will become a kind of unelected national school board. The APUSH revisions, in my views, are largely an effort to silence public criticism and prevent competition and choice from emerging in AP testing. One of the strongest indications that this is the case is the AP European history framework, brand new this year. The new European history framework is egregiously biased in all the ways that the 2014 AP U.S. history framework was. It downplays national identity, focuses overmuch on the evils of colonialism, is hostile to capitalism, downplays the excesses of the left and the problems of communism, and gives short shrift both to religion and to the sources of the classic Western liberalism. The new AP European framework makes it clear that nothing in the College Board’s approach to history has fundamentally changed. The College Board continues to be under the influence of leftist historians. If opposition to the U.S. history curriculum dies down, the College Board’s favored historians will eventually pull the APUSH curriculum even further to the left than it was in 2014. Again, this is a problem that only competition can solve. As so often happens, history is repeating itself. In 1994-95, widespread initial condemnation of the National History Standards (NHS) for leftward bias brought forth a revision in response to critics. That revision, which removed the most biased phrases and made a few somewhat more substantive revisions (especially to the controversial section on the Cold War), split the opposition to NHS. Some critics quieted down, while others said that nothing fundamental had changed. In 1997, a couple of years after the controversy over the National History Standards had died down, Penn State Education professor David Warren Saxe published a review of American history textbooks in The Weekly Standard. Saxe concluded that the widely touted revision of the National History Standards “now seems a ruse.” After carefully studying American history texts, Saxe concluded that the influence of the original and highly controversial edition of NHS was “pervasive” in the textbooks. Saxe then added, “In fact, these books read like one long lawyer’s brief in the case of Oppressed People v. White Males. At every juncture of American history, the trinity of race, class, and gender is revealed somehow to be at work.” He concluded, “The national history standards once thought to be discredited have made their way into the nation’s classrooms.” The College Board’s declaration that no textbook changes are needed to accommodate its revisions is the tip-off that the same thing is happening again. And as noted, even were the College Board to loudly demand that textbooks must conform to the changes, there is very little to change.  Essentially, the College Board appears to have done what the NHS revisers did: cut out the most controversial phrases, tweaked the worst sections, but done little to create a genuine alternative approach. Only competition in AP testing can restore meaningful choice to the teaching of history. Whatever positive changes have emerged in the College Board’s revisions are due to the specter of competition. Competing companies with competing frameworks shaped by top-flight professors from competing schools of thought would keep each other honest and restore choice to the states and school districts that by rights ought to be in charge of what their children learn. — Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

He can be reached at


Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Education Update


Dear Friends

A very informative update on education written by Bill Ames. Bill Ames is an education activist who lives in Dallas. His book, “TEXAS TROUNCES THE  LEFT’S WAR ON HISTORY”  ( tells the story of his experience in developing Texas’ U. S. history standard in 2009-2010. 

Ames reviewed CSCOPE lessons as part of the State Board of Education’s Ad Hoc Committee Project. His work in his local school district resulted in Board reviews of both its social studies curriculum and project based learning implementation, as well as securing a superintendent commitment to modify the AP history course to be Texas standards (TEKS) compliant. He welcomes reader comments at


Texas Educators, Ideology & ‘Visions’ Penalize Students, says Ames

They do not read well.  So they do not pass.

 Texas – Review panels refused to include Christmas, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, religious heritage language, Independence Day, Veterans Dayand Christopher Columbusfrom several grade levels. Study of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution was rejected, as was the concept of American exceptionalism.

Forty-six years ago, on July 20, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong descended down the ladder of his lunar module, stepped on the surface of the moon, and uttered the famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The accomplishment of the United States’ space program was an epic event in our history.

Fast forward to 2009.  A panel of Texas “educators”, charged with proposing the content of social studies courses for Texas public schools, rejects the inclusion of Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk in the history standards.

Neil Armstrong was not the only victim of the leftist educator-dominated panels. The social studies review panels and history “experts” made additional revisions that were unsupportable.

The review panel for the 11th grade U. S. history course characterized the 1898 U. S. acquisitions of Cuba, the Philippines, Hawaii, and Guam as U. S. “imperialism”, but in almost the same breath called the USSR’s invasion of the Iron Curtain-to-be countries as only “expansionism”.

Overall, the review panels attempted to transmit their negative, contempt-for-America tone to the Texas social studies standards.

Thankfully, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE)refused the proposed changes, rather adopting an overall positive, but balanced set of social studies standards.

Texas’ education establishment is overwhelmingly controlled by liberals.  There exists a thinly disguised arrogance towards both the State Board of Education and the Texas Senate and Legislature.  The prevailing attitude is that course content is no one’s business but theirs.

Parents and citizens are excluded as well.  Leading educators believe course content should be left up to the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA), district superintendents and their staffs, and complicit, capitulating school boards.


One can trace the beginnings of educators’ defiance to the TASA organization. In 2008, TASA released its document “Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas”.

The document includes many controversial statements, too many to include here.  Here are a couple.

“Attention of leaders is focused on the dominant social systems that govern behavior, beginning with those that clarify beliefs and direction, develop and transmit knowledge, and that provide for recruitment and induction of all employees and students into the values and vision.”

Note that the teaching and mastery of core academic subjects is not mentioned.  Rather, the statement is an unabashed indoctrination of Texas’ students with leftist ideology.

What “dominant social systems” and behaviors?  Whose beliefs, values and vision?  Recruitment and induction?


“The state cannot have great schools and strong communities as long as it insists on the real power and authority residing in Austin…”    

But the State Board of Education and the legislature are responsible to enforce the State Education Code, that education establishment activists would like to ignore.

Texas Education Code 28.002(h):

“The State Board of Education and each school district shall foster the continuation of the tradition of teaching United States and Texas history and the free enterprise system in regular subject matter and in reading courses and in the adoption of instructional materials.

A primary purpose of the public school curriculum is to prepare thoughtful, active citizens who understand the importance of patriotism and can function productively in a free enterprise society with appreciation for the basic democratic values of our state and national heritage.”

The 2008 TASA vision gave rise to an organization of district superintendents, called the High Performance Schools Consortium.  This organization was to be a laboratory for implementing and testing the TASA vision in real school district situations.

In its December, 2014 report to Texas education commissioner Michael Williams, the Consortium attacked the SBOE standards:

“The sheer number of standards in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) creates a significant impediment to profound learning. 

“(Rather, high priority standards should be) … reflective of national and international standards…”

Senator Kel Seliger’s incredibly bad bill, SB 313, picked up on this liberal tirade.  Seliger’s bill was a frontal attack on SBOE state standards that had been developed over the years.  The senator caved in to educator activists, who since social studies standards were adopted by the SBOE in 2010, have been salivating to reopen the standards and incorporate their leftist agenda.  Due to a lack of focus on education curriculum issues, SB 313 easily passed both houses of the legislature.  Only a last-minute effort by conservative grassroots activists persuaded Governor Abbott to veto the bill and prevent it from becoming law.

Further, the Consortium’s reference to national standards, along with the education establishment’s reluctance to teach a positive view of U. S. history, helps us understand why there was no resistance to the College Board’s anti-American Advanced Placement U. S. history course (APUSH), implemented in Texas school districts during the 2014-2015 school year.

I live in the Richardson (TX) school district (RISD).  In January 2010, the RISD board adopted the TASA vision as its direction.

To provide guidance for implementation, RISD hired a consultant to provide “engaged learning”, and recommend the “10 Critical Qualities of Student Work”.   One only needs to know a part of item 10 to understand the emphasis on so-called higher level critical thinking skills at the expense of core academics.

“Learning to read and write complete sentences, for example, is not the same as learning to write persuasively, and to read critically, thoughtfully, and well.”

The local attempt to replace core academics with social engineering became more apparent in an early 2010 scandal at Richardson’s TEA Region 10.  Teacher certification candidates were required to study material that:

“Teachers must not define education as basic skills…..rather, as educators, we must help people become committed to social change.”

It is not difficult to determine the negative impact of de-emphasizing core academics in a school district.

The initial STAAR reading tests, for six grade levels 3rd through 8th, were introduced in 2012. In 2012, RISD students tested above the Texas state reading average at all six grade levels.

But by 2015, STAAR reading scores have fallen below the 2012 scores for all six grade levels. In addition, RISD students now read below Texas average for four of the six grade levels measured.

 Richardson ISD 2012-2015 STAAR Test

Reading Scores

Grade             2012             2015           Change

  3                    79                  74                -5

   4                    79                  69                -10

   5                    80                  74                 -6

   6                    81                  80                 -1

   7                    77                  76                 -1

   8                    81                  78                 -3

While this ought to be an embarrassment to a district that promotes itself as one of the best in the state if not the country, there has been little or no outrage from parents, or policy revision from board members.

District administrators incorrectly blame the tests for RISD’s poor performance.  But a veteran RISD teacher has confided in me….

“My students have demonstrated mastery of the TEKS-mandated course material in class, but their reading comprehension isn’t good enough to handle the vocabulary used in the STAAR test.

“They do not read well.  So they do not pass.  And it is not just the ESL (English as a Second Language) students.”

The problem at TASA and many Texas school districts is the arrogant “My way or the highway” attitude, towards both core academics and the mandate to teach Texas students to be proud Americans.

The legislature can turn this bad situation around with a number of actions:

  1. Understand that the Texas education establishment is overwhelmingly liberal, and thus is out of touch with mainstream Texans and the legislature. Recognize the requirement for increased legislator focus on public education curriculum issues, through legislator self-education, focus, and dedicated staff members.
  2. Require that all instruction materials (hard copy and online) be subject to SBOE vetting and adoption (including the traditional public input and hearing process). Place special emphasis on exclusion of Common Core compliant materials.
  3. Require that all curriculum (including the CSCOPE follow on, Advanced Placement courses, and the International Baccalaureate curriculum) be compliant with Texas state standards.
  4. Utilize loss of state funding, lower accreditation, and use of the new A through F rating system to penalize districts that refuse compliance with legislative mandates.

Such actions, to put liberal education establishment leaders and school districts on a very short leash, are the only hope to reform Texas’ misguided public schools.


 Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

THE DECLINE OF U.S. HISTORY EDUCATION IN TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND “Call for Governor’s Veto of SB313″ Written and Voted on by the SREC

Dear Friends,

A very important article on SB 313 written by Bill Ames.  Bill is an education activist who lives in Dallas.  Ames reviewed CSCOPE lessons as part of the State Board of Education’s AdHoc Committee Project.  His work in his local school district resulted in Board reviews of both its social studies curriculum and project based learning implementation, as well as securing a superintendent commitment to modify the AP history course to be Texas standards (TEKS) compliant.  He welcomes reader comments at




Seventy-one years ago today, on D-Day, Allied armed forces landed on the beaches of the Normandy coast of France. Their success was one of America’s foremost historical achievements.

Today we are losing our WWII veterans at over 1000 per day. Within one generation, we will lose an important aspect of our American heritage, unless our public schools accurately tell the story of their bravery, heroism, and sacrifice.

Unfortunately, that story is in grave danger of not being told accurately, and unless the issue is addressed, our future citizens will have no understanding as to why anyone would make such a sacrifice.

During the summer of 2014, the College Board released a significantly revised framework of its Advanced Placement (AP) United States history course.

The revised AP history course did not reference D-Day or other military victories. Rather, it included descriptions of WWII events as follows:

“The mass mobilization of American society to supply troops for the war effort and a workforce on the home front ended the Great Depression and provided opportunities for women and minorities to improve their socioeconomic positions, and

“Wartime experiences, such as the internment of Japanese Americans, challenges to civil liberties, debates over race and segregation, and the decision to drop the atomic bomb raised questions about American values.”

On June 2, 2015, 55 distinguished scholars published an open letter to the College Board, opposing the 2014 framework…..


Thankfully, the existing standards (non-AP) for the basic 11th grade U. S. history course, adopted by the Texas State Board of Education in 2010, portray a positive view of our history, and includes the heroism of our military.

However, my experience in that standards development effort tells me that the Texas education establishment and its loyal media were extremely upset with the 2010 standards, and are salivating to rewrite state standards to conform to the College Board model.

A complicit SBOE, far less conservative than the 2010 Board, will no doubt go along.

Senator Seliger’s SB313, if signed by Governor Abbott, will afford the leftists that opportunity.

Two actions will help preserve factual U. S. history in Texas public schools.

 1. Your veto of SB313.

2. Broad support for SBOE member Ken Mercer’s resolution, that the College Board rewrite its course to conform to state standards.

We cannot afford to allow Texas students to be indoctrinated with the false message that America is a racist, exploitative, oppressive, imperialistic country. Conservatives across the country are looking to Texas to set the standard for United States history education in public schools. Let’s not let them down.

Bill Ames



“Call for Governor’s Veto of SB313”

Written and Voted on by the SREC

WHEREAS, The 2014 Republican Party of Texas Platform states (pg. 22) that the responsibilities of the elected State Board of Education (SBOE) “must include … Maintaining sole authority over all curricula content and the state adoption of all educational materials;” and

WHEREAS, The Texas Legislature has sent to Governor Abbott Senate Bill 313, that requires the elected SBOE to “modify the essential knowledge and skills of each foundation curriculum subject … [and] to narrow the content and scope of standards and skills;” and

WHEREAS, SB313 puts recent conservative curriculum victories in jeopardy, including emphasis on patriotism as required by state law, discussion of the Founding Fathers and documents, American Exceptionalism, America’s rich religious heritage, character education, achievements of Ronald Reagan; and

WHEREAS, the SBOE has provided that the Texas standards require students to know specific facts and reflect conservative values of Texas, but forcing the SBOE to remove content and make it more general reflects the philosophy underlying the Common Core standards; and

WHEREAS, A majority of Texas House Republicans voted against the conference report to SB 313, which passed because the vast majority of Texas House Democrats voted for it; and

WHEREAS, The elected State Board of Education is currently reviewing and revising the English Language Arts curriculum, and limits on adoption of textbooks in Senate Bill 313 could delay new English, handwriting, spelling, and grammar books for Texas schoolchildren; and

WHEREAS, SB 313 will force a compulsory and arbitrary set-aside of 25% of the funds the State Board of Education has to distribute to districts to go to anything but classroom content (such as computer hardware), limiting the ability of the elected State Board of Education to order and adopt instructional materials.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE STATE REPUBLICAN EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE that Senate Bill 313 violates the Republican Party of Texas Platform; and

BE IT RESOLVED that the State Republican Executive Committee respectfully requests that Governor Greg Abbott veto Senate Bill 313; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Governor, Lt. Governor, all Republican members of the Texas Senate and Texas House of Representatives.



Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12




Schoolroom Climate Change Indoctrination

Dear Friends,

A very informative and timely article writing by Paul H. Tice.  Mr. Tice works in investment management and is a former Wall Street energy research analyst.

Schoolroom Climate Change Indoctrination

While many American parents are angry about the Common Core educational standards and related student assessments in math and English, less attention is being paid to the federally driven green Common Core that is now being rolled out across the country. Under the guise of the first new K-12 science curriculum to be introduced in 15 years, the real goal seems to be to expose students to politically correct climate-change orthodoxy during their formative learning years.

In one assignment, students measure the size of their

family’s carbon footprint and suggest ways to shrink it.


The Next Generation of Science Standards were released in April 2013. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have adopted them, including my state of New Jersey, which signed on in July 2014 and plans to phase in the new curriculum beginning with the 2016-2017 school year. The standards were designed to provide students with an internationally benchmarked science education.

While publicly billed as the result of a state-led process, the new science standards rely on a framework developed by the Washington, D.C.-based National Research Council. That is the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences that works closely with the federal government on most scientific matters.

All of the National Research Council’s work around global warming proceeds from the initial premise of its 2011 report, “America’s Climate Choices” which states that “climate change is already occurring, is based largely on human activities, and is supported by multiple lines of scientific evidence.” From the council’s perspective, the science of climate change has already been settled. Not surprisingly, global climate change is one of the disciplinary core ideas embedded in the Next Generation of Science Standards, making it required learning for students in grade, middle and high school.

The National Research Council framework for K-12 science education recommends that by the end of Grade 5, students should appreciate that rising average global temperatures will affect the lives of all humans and other organisms on the planet. By Grade 8, students should understand that the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels is a major factor in global warming. And by Grade 12, students should know that global climate models are very effective in modeling, predicting and managing the current and future impact of climate change. To give one example of the council’s reach, these climate-change learning concepts have been incorporated almost verbatim into the New Jersey Department of Education model science curriculum.

Many of the background materials and classroom resources used by instructors in teaching the new curriculum are sourced from government agencies. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency has an array of ready-to-download climate-change primers for classroom use by teachers, including handouts on the link between carbon dioxide and average global temperatures and tear sheets on the causal relationship between greenhouse-gas emissions and rising sea levels.

Similarly, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Energy Department have their own Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness Network, or Clean, which serves as an online portal for the distribution of digital resources to help educators teach about climate change. One such learning module requires students to measure the size of their family’s carbon footprint and come up with ways to shrink it.

Relying on a climate-change curriculum and teaching materials largely sourced from federal agencies—particularly those of the current ideologically driven administration—raises a number of issues. Along with the undue authoritative weight that such government-produced documents carry in the classroom, most of the work is one-sided and presented in categorical terms, leaving no room for a balanced discussion. Moreover, too much blind trust is placed in the predictive power of long-range computer simulations, despite the weak forecasting track record of most climate models to date.

This is unfortunate because the topic of man-made global warming, properly taught, would present many teachable moments and provide an example of the scientific method in action. Precisely because the science of climate change is still just a theory, discussion would help to build student skills in critical thinking, argumentation and reasoning, which is the stated objective of the new K-12 science standards.

For instance: Why has the planet inconveniently stopped warming since the late 1990s even as carbon dioxide levels have continued to rise? How reliable are historical measurements of average global temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels when, before the 1950s, much of the data are interpolated from such diverse sources as weather balloons, kites, cloud observations, primordial tree rings and Antarctic ice bubbles?

How statistically significant is a 1.4-degree Fahrenheit increase in average global surface temperatures since 1880 for a 4.6 billion-year-old planet with multiple ecosystems and a surface area of some 200 million square miles? How dangerous is the current level of carbon dioxide in the world’s atmosphere, when 400 parts per million expressed as a percentage of the volume of the atmosphere would equate to only 0.04% or approximately zero?

Employing such a Socratic approach to teaching climate change would likely lead to a rational and thought-provoking classroom debate on the merits of the case. However, that is not the point of this academic exercise—which seems to be to indoctrinate young people by using K-12 educators to establish the same positive political feedback loop around global warming that has existed between the federal government and the nation’s colleges and universities for the past two decades.


Tincy Miller

SBOE District 12