by Chloe Latham Sikes, Ph.D.
In early September, the Texas State Board of Education met to discuss changes to the social studies learning standards, also known as the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills). Part of the board’s agenda included considering changes made to civics education standards through Senate Bill 3, the state’s classroom censorship law that went into effect December 2021.
The board also was supposed to vote on broader revisions to all of K-12 social studies, including a revised framework to streamline how social studies is taught in grades K-8, updates to social studies content from the past decade, and standards for new ethnic studies courses: American Indian/Native Studies (AINS) and Asian American Studies. These revisions would have updated social studies for all K-12 students and expanded ethnic studies in Texas.
But the board departed from their agenda. Despite testimony from students, parents, and other curriculum and subject matter experts advocating inclusive learning standards, a majority of board members bent to partisan pressure to keep outdated social studies standards for another three years and delay consideration of the newly proposed ethnic studies standards.
Partisan groups advocated delaying the review to remove references to LGBTQ+ people, history and events; impose specific religious references; and interrupt the progress toward inclusive curricula from expanded ethnic studies courses. Because of the delay, the board’s social studies review will be more susceptible to partisan influence to make curricula less inclusive and of lower quality.
The board’s only change to social studies will be to review the civics education changes in SB 3, which must be adopted by December 31, 2022.
The board’s vote reflects the chilling effect of classroom censorship that accompanies SB 3, and leaves Texas students with outdated and inadequate learning standards.
We invite you to join the Teach the Truth Coalition to stay up-to-date on the next steps from the Texas board of education.