Bill Bumpas - OneNewsNow - 5/25/2010 7:00:00 AMDefenders of the new social studies standards just passed by the Texas State Board of Education say it will encourage students to go back to the Constitution and First Amendment to learn about religious freedom.
The new standards approved by the Board, which will be in place for the next ten years, include an amendment in the curriculum comparing and contrasting the phrase "separation of church and state" with the Founding Fathers' intent to protect religious freedom. It would require in-depth study of founding documents. (See earlier article)
Democrats on the Board had lobbied to delay the final vote until after new members were seated in November, hoping to regain majority status on the Board and defeat implementation of the new standards. Friday's vote was along party lines.
As to the Democrats' criticism of the new standards, Jonathan Saenz, director of legislative affairs for Liberty Institute, remarks that "it takes a true liberal extremist to oppose students reading the Constitution."
Saenz contends liberals on the Board did not want the new standards to reflect an accurate story of history, nor did they desire an honest discussion of America's founders really meant.
"They wanted their ideology [and] they wanted their version," he states, "which has led to things like the Mojave Desert cross being sued in the middle of millions of acres of land, which is a memorial to veterans; and all these lawsuits we see infringing upon the rights of students in public schools not being able to pray over their meals and things of that nature.
"That's not what the founders had in mind," argues the attorney.
Among the other standards, students will be required to study the decline of the U.S. dollar's value, including the abandonment of the gold standard; and to evaluate whether the United Nations undermines U.S. sovereignty. The standards also strengthened requirements on teaching the Judeo-Christian influences of the nations founders, and required that the U.S. government be referred to as a "constitutional republic" rather than "democratic."
Because Texas is a large textbook market, other school districts around the country frequently buy the same education materials. But in California, a state Senate committee has passed a bill that would ensure no California textbooks contain any Texas-driven changes.