Latest Update on Social Studies TEKS Revisions Highlights the Need to Remain Vigilant

Last week, reports surfaced that the State Board of Education (SBOE) received a draft recommendation from their appointed K-2 social studies working group to refer to the kidnapping and brutal transport into bondage of Africans not as “slavery” but as “involuntary relocation.” 

The draft recommendations, which have not been published by the Texas Education Agency, were presented to the SBOE as part of a larger progress report to board members by the people they appointed to serve on the writing teams for the revision of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for social studies. The offending language was caught by SBOE member Aicha Davis, and with support from the entire board, the chair gave direction to reconsider the recommendation.  

The attempt to sanitize this standard is almost certainly the intended consequence of Senate Bill 3 87(2) which states, among other intentionally ambiguous language, that public schools may only teach that “slavery and racism are … deviations from, betrayals of, or failures to live up to the authentic founding principles of the United States, which include liberty and equality” and bans teaching the truth about slavery and its role in our shared history.  

Importantly, the SBOE’s process for standards revision is designed to seek input from experts and the public. In this case, the process functioned as it was intended and this incorrect and whitewashed language was not allowed to move forward and be adopted into the curriculum. Texas AFT has been and will continue to work with a large coalition of experts and activists to ensure the social studies TEKS, set for adoption this November, contain factual and truthful information so that our teachers may lead their classrooms free from censorship.