The Texas State Board of Education has decided finally, after a little over 150 years, to teach that slavery and the fight over whether to maintain the cruel system or abolish it were at the heart of the United States’ Civil War. Texas’s education system is one of the most reliant on textbooks in the country, and it had recently undertook a review and revision of its educational materials. Educators felt that there was a need to streamline the books in order to allow teachers the ability to actually teach some things, and not just resort to forcing kids to memorize a bunch of names and dates.
Under the current educational standards in Texas, adopted in 2010, slavery is listed as one of several causes of the Civil War, after sectionalism and states’ rights. But after last week’s revisions, the standards will say that elementary school students should be able to identify “the central role of the expansion of slavery in causing the Civil War and other contributing factors, including sectionalism and states’ rights.” (Middle school students will be held to similar standards, though the wording is slightly different.)
The Board also reversed September’s well-covered decision to remove Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller as subjects from American history textbooks. I guess they figured that those two women accomplished something. This is an important decision, since Texas public schools account for 10 percent of the public school population in the United States.