On Monday, the State Board of Education held a special meeting to conduct a public hearing and discussion on the revised social studies TEKS.
Invited testifiers included Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht, who spoke about the need for civics education and Sen. Bryan Hughes, author of SB 3, the so-called “anti-CRT” bill. Hughes’ purpose was to provide clarity around the intent of the bill that has angered and confused the education community. Opponents of the law, including Texas AFT, have argued that the bill not only censors content but is an attack on the professional integrity of teachers who should be trusted to teach the truth and who can best understand the appropriateness of topics for their students and communities.
Sen. Royce West gave virtual testimony providing clarity on what Critical Race Theory is and is not. He stated emphatically that the SBOE did not need the interference of SB 3. The SBOE also heard invited testimony from their content advisors and from representatives from each of the K-12 working groups charged with revising the TEKS.
More than 100 testifiers filled the board room in Austin. The overwhelming focus of the testimony was in support of the new Asian American Studies course and the American Indian/Native Studies course. Texas AFT provided testimony in support of the new framework and ethnic studies courses.
Tensions rose in the room when discussing the revised K-8 framework. The proposal would dramatically rearrange the content of the elementary and middle school standards. The SBOE’s reaction to the draft standards was mixed with some proposing a return to the existing framework. This was the second special meeting held for the social studies standards, and a radical change in direction at this point could threaten the board’s ability to conclude their work and adopt the new standards by the end of the year. This is concerning because five new board members will be sworn in in January; the incoming Republicans are decidedly more conservative and likely will be disruptive to the TEKS revision process. Texas AFT will keep a close eye on this process as it develops.