Final Texas History Standards

The Texas Education Agency posted the final version of the new state history standards late last week. You can examine the standards here:

http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=3643

2 Responses to “Final Texas History Standards”

  • lewisbarnavelt:

    Interesting reading. I'm bothered by the McCarthy part of the Texas standards. First, it is inaccurate to teach that the Venona list is a vindication of McCarthy which is what the Texas standards are attempting to do. I find it bizarre that the Texas standards would even make a prominent mention of the list. True, the Venona List does show the extent of communist infiltration of the U.S. Government, but it shouldn't necessarily be paired with Joe McCarthy due to the fact that most of those on the list were already indicted for spying before McCarthy was even a Senator. Of the 159 people McCarthy accused, only 9 matched with the Venona List. That is a 94% inaccuracy rate when you compare the Venona list with McCarthy's lists–hardly a vindication of McCarthy. As a historian, I hate it when politics, whether Democrat or Republican, are indoctrinated into our students. In reading the Texas standards it has become clear that one indoctrinating ideology is being supplanted by another. It is fine to teach about Sen. McCarthy and the Venona list but in their proper context. The Texas standards miss the entire point of studying McCarthyism in that students should engage in a vigorous debate about the tactics used in rooting out suspected communists. Under the Constitution is it illegal to belong to the Communist Party and is it something we do as Americans to ruin the lives and reputations of innocent people in order to find the guilty ones? There are similar points in studying the Salem Witch Trials, and when studying McCarthyism, Mark Twain's maxim holds true when he says that history doesn't repeat itself, but it certainly rhymes. History is not just about learning facts, but using those facts to help us understand the past, present, and future. For example, we can teach students about Japanese Internment camps during WWII, but what are the lessons to be learned? Was the government correct in isolating the Japanese? It can be argued from both sides of which both have great points. That is the beauty of studying history when the facts are taught accurately. When we cannot be honest with the facts or leave out important information such as McCarthy's motivations and biography, as demonstrated by the McCarthy portion of the Texas standards, then we do a great disservice to our youth and our country and are in essence simply indoctrinating them to believe in particular political ideologies. I believe that our founding fathers would be ashamed of what is happening in America right now and with both political parties for their lack of dispassionate analysis and acrimonious partisanship and their zeal in trying to construe history in a way that supports their political ideologies.

  • lewisbarnavelt:

    Interesting reading. I'm bothered by the McCarthy part (as well as other portions) of the Texas standards. First, it is inaccurate to teach that the Venona list is a vindication of McCarthy which is what the Texas standards are attempting to do. I find it bizarre that the Texas standards would even make a prominent mention of the list. True, the Venona List does show the extent of communist infiltration of the U.S. Government, but it shouldn't necessarily be paired with Joe McCarthy due to the fact that most of those on the list were already indicted for spying before McCarthy was even a Senator. Of the 159 people McCarthy accused, only 9 matched with the Venona List. That is a 94% inaccuracy rate when you compare the Venona list with McCarthy's lists–hardly a vindication of McCarthy. As a historian, I hate it when politics, whether Democrat or Republican, are indoctrinated into our students. In reading the Texas standards it has become clear that one indoctrinating ideology is being supplanted by another. It is fine to teach about Sen. McCarthy and the Venona list but in their proper context. The Texas standards miss the entire point of studying McCarthyism in that students should engage in a vigorous debate about the tactics used in rooting out suspected communists. Under the Constitution is it illegal to belong to the Communist Party and is it something we do as Americans to ruin the lives and reputations of innocent people in order to find the guilty ones? There are similar points in studying the Salem Witch Trials, and when studying McCarthyism, Mark Twain's maxim holds true when he says that history doesn't repeat itself, but it certainly rhymes. History is not just about learning facts, but using those facts to help us understand the past, present, and future. For example, we can teach students about Japanese Internment camps during WWII, but what are the lessons to be learned? Was the government correct in isolating the Japanese? It can be argued from both sides of which both have great points. That is the beauty of studying history when the facts are taught accurately. When we cannot be honest with the facts or leave out important information such as McCarthy's motivations and biography, as demonstrated by the McCarthy portion of the Texas standards, then we do a great disservice to our youth and our country and are in essence simply indoctrinating them to believe in particular political ideologies. I believe that our founding fathers would be ashamed of what is happening in America right now and with both political parties for their lack of dispassionate analysis and acrimonious partisanship and their zeal in trying to construe history in a way that supports their political ideologies.