Public school curriculum standards should never be politicized, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and allied organizations said today.
In a joint letter, Americans United and 22 other religious, educational and advocacy groups commended U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson for introducing a House resolution supporting academically sound curriculum development and criticizing the Texas State Board of Education for politicizing the state’s social studies standards.
Johnson’s measure, H.Res. 1593, charges that the State Board “disregarded many academically based recommendations and approved politically biased standards within the curriculum that are outside of mainstream scholarship.” (The resolution is co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Solomon P. Ortiz, Ruben Hinojosa, Silvestre Reyes and Gene Green.)
Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, “The Texas School Board’s handling of the social studies standards was a travesty. America’s school children cannot be expected to learn accurate history if ideologues are allowed to manipulate the educational process.
“Teachers and scholars, not politicians, should take the lead in developing curriculum standards,” Lynn said. “The Texas School Board flunked its big test. I hope every member of Congress joins Rep. Johnson’s resolution as a co-sponsor.”
The groups’ joint letter to Johnson asserted, “The politicization of the process by which curriculum standards are adopted in Texas has garnered national attention and has set a dangerous precedent that we fear could be repeated in other places. Therefore, we appreciate your efforts to draw attention to this problem. We agree that it should not be up to any politician to write history; instead teachers and experts in the field should be utilized to determine curriculum standards.”
The letter noted that the State School Board approved curriculum standards that are “academically unsound and politically biased.” The Texas standards, the groups charged, downplayed the struggle surrounding the civil rights movement and undermined the constitutionally mandated separation between religion and government.
“We greatly appreciate your leadership on this important issue,” the letter concluded. “Emphasizing that academic experts, rather than politicians, should develop curriculum standards that are clear, informed, and inclusive will help ensure that our students learn accurate history and acquire the analytical skills needed for success in college and the workforce.”
Groups signing the letter include the American Federation of Teachers, Americans for Religious Liberty, American Association of University Women, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Anti-Defamation League, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, Catholics for Choice, Center for Inquiry, Hindu American Foundation, Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Interfaith Alliance, National Alliance of Black School Educators, NAACP, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Council of La Raza, National Council of Jewish Women, National Education Association, National Women’s Law Center, People For the American Way, Secular Coalition for America, Texas Faith Network, Texas Freedom Network and the United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.