The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) is currently undergoing a review of the standards for social studies curriculum in response to the passage of censorship bill Senate Bill 3 in the last legislative session. This bill limits educational discussion surrounding race and gender diversity, and censors historical and current events in K-12 education. However, SB3 includes a civics section which could be used to provide K-12 students with a richer, more well-rounded understanding of civic education and history.
This summer the SBOE succumbed to political pressure and postponed updating the full social studies curriculum until 2025. Instead the SBOE will only make changes related to SB 3, which could be an opportunity for social studies education in Texas to become more diverse, and encourage more discussion on the complexities of civic life both historically and in modern life. The board is currently accepting public comments until November 14. By providing public comment, you can ensure that students receive a social studies education that addresses issues like race, gender, and current events. These public comments may include any suggested changes or additions into the curriculum based on SB 3. Public comments allow for Texans to formally address their curriculum concerns and give direct input for the SBOE to consider when making final edits this November.
CDF is proposing the following curriculum recommendations:
- Support K-12 students in learning about the history of civic engagement in the United States. The current curriculum teaches students about the importance of voting, serving the community, and contacting elected officials but does not provide historical background regarding civil rights movements or civil disobedience. Some examples include discussion of figures like Frederick Douglass and Abigail Adams, or discussion of boycotts and sit-ins during the civil rights movement which give students context for why civic actions are important.
- Give students in all grade levels the opportunity to learn more about civic engagement and participation. Introducing civic engagement earlier in a student’s school career helps them to develop a deeper understanding of the concept which can be continually reinforced later in their education.
- Allow students to participate in activities that model good civic behavior in a democratic setting, such as voting. In order to understand concepts, students must practice skills like group decision making, especially using voting, in earlier grade levels. Once students understand voting they can then begin to understand other responsibilities like becoming informed about candidates and issues, registering to vote, and casting a ballot.
- Provide students with more opportunities to practice educational and civic skills proposed by the bill, reinforcing the lessons and skills being learned throughout a student’s K-12 education. Skills proposed for the social studies standards could also be integrated into other types of content to reinforce those skills. Integrating these skills more widely could help students determine the reliability of information, develop reasoned positions, and understand how local, state, and federal governments work.
CDF also supports the recommendations made by our partners. The Ethnic Studies Network is making the following suggestions regarding changes to the TEKS:
- Strengthen standards related to the “moral and political” aspects of the “foundations of the American experiment in self-government,” to allow for thorough examination of the complexities and diverse perspectives related to the founding of our nation. For example, including discussion on how relationships with indigenous peoples impacting the founding of our nation, or including slavery as a cause which contributed to the Texas Revolution.
- Strengthen standards related to history, citizenship, and government in order to highlight the contributions and experiences of diverse populations that include multiple perspectives. For example, the curriculum could include notable figures and movements such as Alonso Perales, Sylvia Garcia, The Rainbow Coalition, The Brown Berets, and the Black Panthers.
- Support additional content and structural recommendations of our Coalition partners as they relate to all 4 Ethnic Studies content areas. This recommendation suggests the SBOE consider the recommendations made by Asian Texans for Justice, the Texas Freedom Network, and American Indian/Native Studies scholars.
Just as CDF and our partners have developed specific recommendations for the SBOE, we encourage you to think about what curriculum changes you’d like to see. We created a Comment Portal to make it easier for you to advocate for change and provide important SBOE information and updates. Public comments are a vital source of community input which can greatly impact the SBOE’s final decisions. Raise your voice and advocate for the changes you want to see!