Let’s dive into this social studies bill….

When the SBOE addresses the TEKS for American History classes it is going to have its hands full.  Or maybe not, as HB 3979 lays out what is to be included in such detail that perhaps no further elaboration will be required.  This controversial bill is on the agenda for revision during the special session.  Of course that assumes that the Democrats return to Austin so that we have a quorum to do business.  Exciting times here in Texas! In any event, here is what we have on the books as of now.

As a result of wildly divergent views as to what should be taught, this law will require that the TEKS address the writings of George Washington, Ona Judge, (all those who know who Ona Judge is, raise your hand) Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, and Abigail Adams.  Students will be learning about the Chicano movement, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Dr. Hector Garcia and the American GI Forum; the women’s suffrage movement and Susan B. Anthony; some famous court cases, including Brown v. Board of Education, Hernandez v. Texas and Mendez v. Westminster; the history of Native Americans, including information about the Indian Removal Act.  Students will be taught about “the history of white supremacy, including but not limited to the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement, and the Ku Klux Klan, and the ways in which it was morally wrong.” No doubt this will involve teaching about the Fugitive Slave Acts and the Underground Railroad. 

With regard to any social studies course “in the required curriculum” teachers:

may not be compelled to discuss a particular current event or widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs.”

For teachers who choose to discuss such a topic, the teacher must, to the best of the teacher’s ability, strive to explore the topic from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective.

Schools (including open enrollment charters) may not require, make part of the course, or give course or extra credit to a student’s political activism, lobbying, efforts to persuade public officials, or for any participation in an internship, practicum or similar activity involving social or public policy advocacy.  Moreover, schools may not accept private funding for course development or training for a course that includes such things.

No employee of a school district, open enrollment charter, or state agency may:

be required to engage in “training, orientation, or therapy that presents any form of race or sex stereotyping or blame on the basis of race or sex;”

require an understanding of The 1619 Project;

require, or make part of a course the concept that:

  1. One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;
  2. An individual, by virtue of that person’s race or sex is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously;
  3. An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment based on race or sex;
  4. Members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex;
  5. An individual’s moral character, standing or worth is necessarily determined by the person’s race or sex;
  6. An individual, by virtue of race or sex, bears responsibility for actions taken in the past by other members of the same race or sex;
  7. An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress based on the person’s race or sex;
  8. Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race;
  9. The advent of slavery in the territory that is now the U.S. constituted the true founding of the U.S.; or
  10. Slavery and racism are anything other than deviations from, betrayals of, or failures to live up to the authentic founding principles of the U.S, which include liberty and equality.

Will these be forever designated The Ten Forbidden Concepts?

In recognition of the First Amendment, the bill states that students will remain free to discuss the issues that cannot be discussed in social studies class without punishment.  Neither traditional nor open enrollment charter schools may “implement, interpret, or enforce any rules or student code of conduct in a manner that would result in the punishment of a student for discussing, or have a chilling effect on student discussion” of such issues.

So the kids can talk about the Forbidden Concepts, or even float the idea that maybe one race is superior to another, or maybe some individuals should feel guilt about things their ancestors did.  They just can’t do that in the classroom where there would be a trained and certified teacher guiding the discussion. 

Good luck with this! 


Got a question or comment for the Dawg?  Let me hear from you at jwalsh@wabsa.com

Tomorrow: Toolbox Tuesday!!