Three civil rights advocacy groups have joined together to address revisionist changes to social studies curriculum as decided by the Texas State Board of Education earlier in 2010.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), with support from the Texas Association of Black Personnel in Higher Education (TABPHE), filed a request for a compliance review (pdf) with the US Department of Education alleging that alterations to Texas and American history were “discriminatory,” harmful to all students but disproportionately affecting African American and Latino students, and “stigmatizing”–all in violation of the Civil Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution. From the appeal, and as reported by The Huffington Post:
“The State of Texas is failing to provide many of its minority students with equal educational opportunities,” documents sent to the federal department said.
The request, signed by Gary Bledsoe, president of the state NAACP, and Joey D. Cardenas Jr., state director of Texas LULAC, asked that implementation of the curriculum changes and new standardized tests be stopped for being racially or ethnically offensive or historically inaccurate.
Besides the curriculum complaint, they accused the state, the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Board of Education of “miseducation” of minority students, disparate discipline for minority students, using accountability standards to impose sanctions on schools with high numbers of minority students and rules leading to underrepresentation of minorities in gifted and talented school programs.
“This is like in your face, like showing the ultimate in disrespect,” Bledsoe said. “To suggest the positive aspects of slavery or to exalt Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy is just an abomination. I mean no disrespect to people who may have had ancestors who were part of that, but it is what it is.”
In May of 2010, the Texas State Board of Education’s fifteen members voted to rename the “slave trade” the “Atlantic triangular trade,” remove any mention of Thomas Jefferson because of his strong belief in the separation of church and state, and suppress any mention of state LGBT history, among many changes. Insertions included creationism, pro-capitalist economic theorists, and a flattering view of conservative presidents like Ronald Reagan. The controversy spilled into the fall elections for SBOE members–where two candidates, both educators, challenging the right-wing ideologies promoted by the current SBOE, were unsuccessful.
The NAACP and LULAC expect the federal review of the Texas SBOE’s curriculum to be completed some time in 2011.