Public schools in Texas would describe slavery to second graders as “involuntary relocation” under new social studies standards proposed to the state’s education board.
A group of nine educators submitted the idea to the State Board of Education as part of Texas’ efforts to develop new social studies curriculum, according to the Texas Tribune. The once-a-decade process updates what children learn in the state’s nearly 8,900 public schools.
The board is considering curriculum changes one year after Texas passed a law to eliminate topics from schools that make students “feel discomfort.”
Board member Aicha Davis, a Democrat who represents Dallas and Fort Worth, raised concerns during a June 15 meeting that the term wasn’t a fair representation of the slave trade. The board sent the draft back for revision, urging the educator group to “carefully examine the language used to describe events.”
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“I can’t say what their intention was, but that’s not going to be acceptable,” Davis told The Texas Tribune on Thursday.
The Texas Education Agency released a statement late Thursday reaffirming the SBOE told the workgroup that the language needed to be changed.
"Today there have been statements circulating on social media about the status of how the history of slavery is taught. These statements are patently false. The Texas Education Agency does not make curricular recommendations to the State Board of Education. Instead, the SBOE -- through the work of review committees -- determines state standards, typically over a lengthy process involving many drafts," the TEA said. "As documented in the meeting minutes, the SBOE provided feedback in the meeting indicating that the working group needed to change the language related to 'involuntary relocation.' Any assertion that the SBOE is considering downplaying the role of slavery in American history is completely inaccurate."
News from around the state of Texas.
Part of the proposed draft standards obtained by The Texas Tribune said students should “compare journeys to America, including voluntary Irish immigration and involuntary relocation of African people during colonial times.”
Texas’ public education system has become heavily politicized in recent years, with lawmakers passing legislation to dictate how race and slavery should be taught in schools and conservative groups pouring large amounts of money into school board races.
Texas drew attention for a similar situation in 2015, when a student noticed wording in a textbook that referred to slaves who were brought to America as “workers.” The book’s publisher apologized and promised to increase the number of textbook reviewers it uses.