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Texas Ed Board Curriculum Decision: Don't Know Much About History...

Let's give credit where credit is due.

The Texas Board of Education, in a press release announcing its revision of the public school history curriculum, states that those revisions include explaining “instances of institutional racism in American society.”

So are critics reacting unfairly in charging that Texas board with embedding bigotry within its emphasis on presenting America as a Christian and conservative nation?

Well, let’s point out that this mention of “institutional racism” comes right after that same press release highlights how Texas school students will now study the ideas of Confederate States’ President Jefferson Davis alongside those of Abraham Lincoln and will examine misconceptions about church-state separation in the US Constitution.

Now, given the rigid-right dictates driving the Texas Board’s revisions, it’s unlikely students in Texas will really receive accurate instruction about the contours of institutional racism in the Lone Star state or other locales around America. Unfortunately, their benighted decisions on what should and shouldn't be in school history texts also impacts many students in other states too, because the textbook industry doesn't want to print multiple editions of their expensive books, and Texas is a huge textbook market.

It is unlikely too that students will receive Education Board sanctioned instruction about the May 1916 lynching on the Waco, TX City Hall lawn that was attended by 15,000 spectators, some of whom cut off body parts of the black victim for souvenirs.

The Waco lynching of Jesse WashingtonThe Waco lynching of Jesse Washington

Texas does have the dubious distinction of having had the third highest number of lynching deaths in the U.S. between the mid-1880s to the 1950s, ranking behind Georgia and Mississippi.

Another unlikely classroom lesson for Texas students and other students unfortunate enough to be stuck with Texas-approved texts: the institutionally racist refusal of Texas’ two U.S. Senators (both Republicans like the Ed Board’s majority) to support the U.S. Senate’s June 2005 apology for that body’s despicable, decades-long failure to pass anti-lynching legislation.

As with lynching, there’s little likelihood of illuminating instruction on two pivotal U.S. Supreme Court rulings involving inequities in Texas that helped expand educational opportunity nationwide.

The high court’s June 1951 ruling barring Texas from denying Blacks admission to its prestigious UT Law School was an important decision on the legal road to that court’s seminal 1954 outlawing racial segregation in public schools that hammered institutional racism across America.

The Supreme Court applied the spirit of its 1954 decision in a 1975 ruling striking down a Texas statue denying educational funding to children of undocumented immigrants.

Given the good-ole-days view sought by the Board’s majority it’s doubtful either ruling ranks as Texas history meriting classroom examination.

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