According to the U.S. News, Texas currently is in the bottom 30% of the country when it comes to general public education standards, ranking 37th out of 50 states. While there are many factors contributing to this undesirable rank, such as school funding and teacher quality, the state Board of Education for Texas did not do the state’s educational system any favors by voting to remove prominent historical figures.
Photo: Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash
Helen Keller and Hillary Clinton have been removed from its social studies curriculum, yet the vote also moved to maintain Christian religious figures like Moses. To suggest, as the state board did with its vote, that the first blind and deaf person to earn a college degree as well as the first female presidential nominee for a major US political party are not historically relevant may seem absurd to many Americans. However, in the eyes of the chairwoman of the Texas Board of Education, Donna Bahorich, this move is not due to political or religious bias, but an attempt to make the state’s “high education standards” more “reasonable.”
To begin, it is worth noting that if a state is 37th in the country in education, it should be trying to elevate it standards, not lower them or make them more “reasonable.” Regardless, Bahorich did make effective arguments against partisanship and Christian bias, correctly noting in an op-ed for the Washington Post that the state board also chose to get rid of the prominent Republican Barry Goldwater during that same vote. In that same op-ed, Bahorich made the claim that Moses was important in the creation of America and its central Judeo-Christian values since he was “one of the 18 caregivers adorning the frieze of the US supreme court building ” and that his Ten Commandments are “acknowledged with an engraving in the floor of the National Archives, in front of the display of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.” Bahorich also stated that the guidelines that were voted on were a “floor” for education, not a “ceiling,” so teachers still have the option to teach about Clinton or Keller if they wish to do so.
It is important to remember that this vote by the state board is but a preliminary one. The binding action will occur in a final vote in November. Anyone with objections to the Texas Board of Education’s recent decisions should make their voices heard before then.
Tuhin Chakraborty is an 18 year old freshman at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. He is considering studying History and Political Science there. His favorite book is Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert. Tuhin believes that success is gaining the respect of everyone who knows you. He steps up for Civic Engagement: getting young people involved in politics and community action.