Posts Tagged ‘Texas Standards’

The Need for Partisan School Board Elections in Utah

In fiscal year 2011 for the state of Utah’s budget, 50% of revenues will come from state income taxes and 49.7% of expenditures by the state will go toward the education system (UT Budget Report). Billions of dollars are spent on the education of our children and yet there are those in the public who shout that education is non-partisan. Nothing with that much money at stake is non-partisan. Powerful players vie for control of those dollars. Hundreds of companies provide “vital” services to our various school districts. They in turn scream for more money because of the “tremendous good” they can do with it. However, how do we know those funds are being spent wisely to get the most bang for our buck? Where is the accountability? It’s a never ending cycle where the schools ask for money and then bites the legislative hand that feeds them. We tolerate this as the public because we’ve become accustomed, or dare I say “enculturated” into believing that “good people” run our schools and so they can do no wrong. The people who run our schools may very well be “good people” but that doesn’t mean they have the education of our children as their top priority. One look at Alpine School District’s love affair with Investigations math and the removal of the times tables and long division will clearly illustrate the lack of common sense amongst “educators” and get you questioning what their real agenda is.

One solution to this problem is to have partisan school board elections. The 15 state school board members control half the budget of Utah and individually have territory which is double the size of a state senator. There is no way they can get a message out to voters to inform them of where they stand on issues. In local school districts we have similar issues. Large areas of territory are covered in some of the mega districts like Alpine, Davis, Granite, Jordan, etc… Those school board candidates are never closely examined by voters because it’s hard to get the message out to so many people on such limited funds. It’s also an advantage to the incumbent who may rely on some name recognition to carry him/her through a close race. Partisan school board elections would mean a much smaller number of delegates elected in OUR OWN NEIGHBORHOODS would examine those candidates up close and make a decision to shrink the list of candidates down to size.

I would like to hear from you about what you think are good reasons for and against partisan school board elections. I’ve put a couple lists below. Please comment on this topic below and add any items you can think of to either list. In the future I may update the list according to some of the comments. Thank you for your help.

If your comment is not related to this topic, I will remove your comment. This should remain an easy list for the public to scan down and see the pros and cons of partisan school board elections.

Reasons against (or things some will claim):

  1. Education isn’t partisan so elections shouldn’t be
  2. We’re in the most conservative state/district and now you want to control education with partisanship?
  3. Party money may influence elections
  4. Members will be more influenced by their party politics than their constituents

Responses/Reasons for:

  1. Everything involving money is partisan
  2. You think the NEA and UEA aren’t partisan?
  3. If you think schools are already conservative what are you afraid of having partisan elections? Nothing would change.
  4. The state history standards have a number of very liberal statements like calling health care a right and calling the constitution a “living document.” These are extremely liberal positions.
  5. Nobody studies the candidates for school board in elections because they are non-partisan. Making them partisan means hundreds of delegates will examine candidates closely and see who would do the best job from their party. This raises the quality of candidates making them go through a close examination within their political party.
  6. Having to sell yourself to delegates instead of to the public prior to a primary is much less expensive. This saves candidates time and money and allows more individuals to attempt to run for office without needing deep cash pockets right from the start.
  7. Control over spending large amounts of money is principle based. Partisan control helps put board members in that have a known ideology.
  8. We opted for representational government because “we the people” can’t examine every issue and vote on it with a good working knowledge of the issue. We elect delegates who volunteer to take the time to closely examine candidates and ensure they will represent us well. That’s how a republic functions.
  9. Texas did this, got a conservative majority on the state school board, and for the first time in decades created history standards that teach both sides of the story.
  10. State School Board Districts (15) are twice as big as State Senate Districts (29), and State School Board candidates never have the resources to even send one mailer to all the voters in their area. Voters who do not hear about a state school board member cannot make an informed vote. Nonpartisan elections are intended for small local races (like City Council) where you can presumably meet the candidate, and thus do not need a party affiliation.  But the 15 members of the State School Board in 2012 will likely have approximately 200,000 residents in their district!  There is no way they can meet with more than 20,000, under any circumstances.  In other words, party affiliation is absolutely necessary in any election on such a big scale.
  11. The education budget of Utah is the largest single category of expenditures. Money is always partisan. Power flocks to money. Hiding behind the non-partisan curtain does not allow constituents to know where candidates stand on any issue. Members of the state school board support democratic bills over republican bills by a 2:1 margin according to a former state school board member. This does not represent the makeup of the state electorate.
  12. Saying we don’t want political parties to influence school board elections guarantees that special interest groups will have greater say.
  13. The vetting process of running through a convention race helps weed out unqualified candidates, but does so in a grassroots fashion.
  14. Putting a party line affiliation next to a candidates name helps inform voters that may be unaware of where non-affiliated candidates stand on issues.

Case in point: These images show one candidates’ campaign material touting her as a conservative but there are many who would question her “conservative” credentials. Yet she gets away with saying this because there is no party affiliation and there are no delegates vetting the candidates. This will now start a trend of candidates quickly claiming the conservative “crown” and an unknowing public may believe whichever candidate can get that message out first. This is a disturbing trend that will only confuse and misinform voters. The delegate system works to help closely examine candidates prior to the public being bombarded with a variety of deceptive messages.

JoDee Sundberg Campaign Sign

JoDee Sundberg Campaign Sign

Troubling Utah State Standard

Someone recently emailed me this 6th grade history standard from the Utah state history standards. It’s more important than ever that you know your state school board candidates and make sure they are committed to reviewing what’s being approved for use in Utah. How this is a standard and hasn’t been shouted from the rooftops by someone is stunning.
Standard 4
Objective 3

Determine human rights and responsibilities in the world.

  1. Identify rights considered essential for all humans (e.g. health care, education, safety, freedom from fear, freedom of expression).
  2. Propose steps individual students can take to protect these rights (e.g. support for sister schools, energy and resource conservation, letter writing, career choices, fundraising efforts).

First students will identify rights that aren’t really rights, and then they’ll go to the next step and propose ways to advocate or devote their life to them.

The new Texas standards are looking better and better for potential adoption in Utah.

Texas vs. Utah Elementary History Standards

I received a copy of this document prepared by Judy Cox and obtained her permission to post it here. I think this is a great job of showing some of the differences between the new Texas standards and the Utah standards.

Contrasting Utah’s Core Curriculum for Grades 3-6 Social Studies with the new Texas Standards for K-5 Grades

In compiling this information, I do not intend to infer that teachers in the State of Utah are not teaching important information in the Social Studies curriculum to our students. I have personally participated with my children in Veterans Day observances, patriotic programs, and pioneer treks that show a concerted effort on teacher’s part to teach our students an appreciation for the country we live in and an understanding of societal relationships and community responsibilities. I am not a professional educator, but a parent who has had three children in Utah schools, and will soon have two grandchildren entering the public school system here in Utah. My knowledge and concern come from study, experience with my own children, and a desire to better the educational experience for my grandchildren and other children in our state.

My intent is to show that the guidelines given to Utah teachers are lacking in specificity of content, and that valuable information, concepts, and ideas are missing from the core curriculum in the state. These standards guide the selection of textbooks and curriculum. Without more exact requirements and guidelines, many details, concepts, ideas, and critical exposure to important historical figures and other social studies components may be missed or ignored, and some concepts may be over-stressed at the expense of others of equal or greater importance. Additionally, parents do not have the assurance of specifics that must be taught in the curriculum when students experience the occasional teacher whose personal opinions and beliefs and/or political ideology supplant the responsibility of teaching the core curriculum.

The new Texas curriculum provides a more thorough and comprehensive look at the founding of our country, the importance of knowing and understanding historical figures, places, and dates, stresses the importance of the knowledge and celebration of our patriotic holidays, and helps students understand the meaning and importance of citizenship and civic responsibility.  The curriculum is rich in examples of men and women who have contributed  to our society and emphasizes  the role individuals play in creating positive changes within our communities, state, and nation.

By citing the following, I hope to bring to light a certain inadequacy within our State curriculum that can, and should be remedied. While neither states’ curriculum is without gaps, by implementing the more specific aspects of Texas’ curriculum we can create a more thorough and rigorous course of study for our Utah students. The importance of this curriculum in our elementary schools cannot be overlooked, and should be given a thorough and comprehensive review.

Judy Cox

Orem, UT

Please note: Utah State Core Curriculum standards have changed for grades K-2 as of 12/2009. These new standards are more extensive and inclusive of key concepts not found in the current grades 3-6 curriculum, which is dated 05/2008. Concepts introduced in the K-2 curriculum are not specifically reinforced in grades 3-6.

Utah Social Studies Core Curriculum Grades 3 – 6

Four areas of focus are found in the Utah State Curriculum: history; geography; economics; civics. Each area of focus is studies as part of the general theme for the year, i.e. Grade 3 studies community and culture, Grade 4 the State, and Grade 5 the Nation.

Citizenship is discussed once in the introduction “Essential Goals Used in Developing the Elementary Social Studies Core”, and once specifically in the curriculum as in: “Discover the basis for the patriotic and citizenship traditions we have today (i.e. Pledge of Allegiance, flag etiquette, voting)”. The concept of laws is mentioned twice, as in “obedience to laws” and “make laws”. A more comprehensive discussion of laws and their role in citizenship, such as the purpose of rules and laws, in the home, school, community, identifying the benefits of established laws such as providing security and order; the characteristics of good citizenship, such as truthfulness, justice, and examples of historical and other figures, are missing.

The following are NOT specifically mentioned in the curriculum for 3-6 grades in the State of Utah Core Curriculum:

  1. No historical figure that impacted the founding of the country is mentioned by name, i.e. George Washington, John Adams, etc., nor is any Utah state historical figure mentioned by name. The curriculum discusses “leaders”, as in “Identify representative people from selected revolutions” and “ideas and leaders of the 20th Century”.  The only specific people mentioned are “Napoleon, Martin Luther, James Watt, Isaac Newton, Madame Curie, Anton Van Leeuwenhoek”, and figures from the Renaissance era such as “Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Palestrina, Shakespeare, Tallis”. The curriculum stresses events but no specific individuals are listed to be studied.
  2. Reciting the pledge. The words “recognize”, “identify”, and “demonstrate respect for” are used, but no requirement is listed for “reciting” the pledge.
  3. A study of the songs, anthems, or mottoes of the US or State of Utah
  4. Holidays or Patriotic Holidays
  5. The word “Republic”
  6. The term “constitutional republic”
  7. The word “Patriotism”
  8. The word “President” (as in the US President)
  9. The word “Congress”
  10. The term “Founding Fathers”
  11. The term “free enterprise system”. “Free market system” is used once as in “assess how the free market system in the United States serves as an engine of change and innovation”. It is also a vocabulary word.
  12. The word “capitalism”.
  13. The names of Government officials, state or national. Students are only asked to compare the roles and responsibilities of state, county, and local officials.
  14. The US is referred to as a Representative Government, but there is no name given to the form of representative government (i.e. constitutional republic or democratic republic)
  15. The word democracy is used numerous times: “In order to participate in civic responsibilities required of participants in democracy”; “Assess differing points of view on the role of the US as a world power (e.g. influencing the spread of democracy..)”; “Benchmark: The modern world has witnessed incredible change in global trade, the spread of democracy, the influence of technology, an increase in environmental awareness and advances in human knowledge”. It is also used as a vocabulary word. No information is given however to the specific form of government of the United States, other than discussing a representative government. The idea of a constitutional republic is never mentioned, leaving the idea that democracy is the form, not just a process, idea, or value.

Texas Curriculum Standards for Social Studies Grades K-5

The following words, concepts and phrases are found in the new Texas curriculum. (See, The new Texas curriculum (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Social Studies, Subchapter A, Elementary. Approved for second reading and final adoption.)


This is for K-5 curriculum. Much of the following is introduced in Kindergarten, and reiterated and built upon throughout the following years.

Eight areas of focus are found in the Texas Social Studies Curriculum: government, citizenship; history; geography; economics; culture; science, technology and society; social studies skills. Each area of focus is studied as part of the general theme for the school year, i.e. Grade 3 studies community and world, Grade 4 studies Texas history, Grade 5 studies the history of the United States.

  1. Introduces and emphasizes the study of historical figures such as Washington, Adams, Texas historical figures, etc. and mentions them specifically by name, throughout the curriculum. In Grade 3 alone, 10 historical men and women are to be taught specifically, along with groups of individuals, such as the “Founding Fathers”. See Texas curriculum website for a list of individuals included for study in the curriculum. Table 1 contains individuals to be “included” in the curriculum. Table 2 is designated as “such as” in the curriculum.
  2. Teaches the Pledge of Allegiance, it’s meaning, and uses the word “recite”.
  3. Students identify anthems and mottoes of the United States and the State of Texas.
  4. Discusses celebrating and understanding patriotic holidays such as Veterans Day, Independence Day, Presidents Day, Constitution Day,  etc.
  5. Uses the word “patriotism”, as in : “enables students to understand the importance of patriotism”.
  6. They give intensive study during one specific week per year to the founding documents of the country. This week is called  “Celebrate Freedom Week”, wherein; Each social studies class shall include, during Celebrate Freedom Week as provided under the TEC, §29.907, or during another full school week as determined by the board of trustees of a school district, appropriate instruction concerning the intent, meaning, and importance of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, in their historical contexts. The study of the Declaration of Independence must include the study of the relationship of the ideas expressed in that document to subsequent American history, including the relationship of its ideas to the rich diversity of our people as a nation of immigrants, the American Revolution, the formulation of the U.S. Constitution, and the abolitionist movement, which led to the Emancipation Proclamation and the women’s suffrage movement. (B) Each school district shall require that, during Celebrate Freedom Week or other week of instruction prescribed under subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, students in Grades 3-12 study and recite the following text: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness–That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.”
  7. The term “Founding Fathers” is used, names are used, and students are to identify them and explain the contributions they made in the development of the national government.
  8. The terms “President” and “Congress” are used, as in:  “identify past and present leaders in the national government, including the president and selected members of Congress” and “name current public officials, including mayor, governor, and president”.
  9. The terms and meanings of a free enterprise system, and capitalism, are to be identified, as in: “Students identify the role of the U.S. free enterprise system within the parameters of this course and understand that this system may also be referenced as capitalism or the free market system.” Students learn the character and benefits of the system, describe the development of the system within the state and nation, and how the system works.
  10. Citizenship is a specific component of the curriculum. Characteristics of good citizenship are discussed, examples of historical and contemporary figures who exemplify good citizenship are given, and students are encouraged to actively participate in the democratic process*. “Citizenship: The student understands characteristics of good citizenship as exemplified by historical figures and other individuals. The student is expected to: identify characteristics of good citizenship, such as a belief in truthfulness, justice, equality, respect for oneself and others, responsibility in daily life, and participation in government by educating oneself about the issues, respectfully holding public officials to their word, and voting.”
  11. The word “democratic” is used only in the following context: “…and appreciate the basic democratic values of our state and nation as referenced in the Texas Education Code.” The word democracy is not used. (Note: I am not advocating for removing this term, but rather for placing it within the appropriate context.)
  12. The curriculum clearly and repeatedly discusses the US form of government as a constitutional republic.

*(this is the second of two times that the word “democratic” is used, the other is “democratic values” as in “appreciate the basic democratic values of our state and nation”)

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:

The Awesome New Texas History Standards

There’s been a lot of misreporting by the media around the country (shocker…) about the new Texas history standards including reporting that Thomas Jefferson has been removed from the standards. That is utterly false. The only person to get more attention than Jefferson is, appropriately, George Washington. Here are a few resources to get the scoop on their standards, which frankly, Utah ought to adopt. Texas’ goal in these standards was to create the most factual standards in the country and to expunge revisionist history such as what ASD linked to in their infamous William Meyers link.

Here are articles and links to learn more if you’d like to.

TX state board member Gail Lowe explains some of the misreporting and shares this closing comment:

A critical skill Texas students should develop as part of their education is the ability to analyze information from primary source documents. This should be a requirement for journalists, too. Many seem to have jumped to erroneous conclusions without even examining the actual curriculum standards. One can disagree ideologically with the State Board of Education, but the TEKS standards themselves should be the point of reference for objective, thorough reporting.

Next, the TEA (appropriate acronym for Texas Education Agency) released this correction of some items floating around in the news, with these quote corrections from FOX news:

Last, here is a link to actual changes in the standards. If you open the 6-8 grade pdf and search for the word Republic, it’s everywhere. You can also see a list of important people that are taught by grade level which is kind of cool. A lot of these names are people I’ve never heard of, though some may just be important Texans, but I’m sure they’re all worth knowing.

Go Texas Board of Education!

Wow, WoW, and WOW! Check out this awesome article on the new Texas standards voted in by the State Board of Education.

Texas curriculum standards will henceforth accurately describe the U.S. government as a “constitutional republic” rather than as a democracy. The secularists tried to remove reference to the religious basis for the founding of America, but that was voted down.

Not only do they correct this simple point, but they really go for the gold on a whole host of other changes. I think we ought to just adopt Texas’ history standards right now! :)  Here’s some other highlights. Read the rest of this entry »