Texas board of ed drops Hillary Clinton, Helen Keller from history classes

Blanche Robertson
September 16, 2018

Figures like Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller may soon be removed from history lessons in Texas. Those leaders include Clinton, Sandra Day O'Connor, Thurgood Marshall, and Andrew Carnegie.

So, the volunteer work group was tasked with creating a rubric for grading historical figures to deem who was "essential" to learn about and who wasn't.

Helen Keller is now part of the third-grade curriculum in Texas.

Up until now, third-grade social studies teachers have been required to educate Texas students about Helen Keller, the subject of the play and film The Miracle Worker who was left blind and deaf by illness in early childhood yet learned to communicate and became the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree. Items on that rubric included whether a figure "triggered a watershed change", whether they "represented an underrepresented group", and whether their impact will "stand the test of time".

The Texas Board of Education - known for a long line of controversies about what students should and shouldn't learn in social studies - has taken a step to remove Hillary Clinton from the curriculum. By the group's gauge, Clinton received just 5 points out of 20; Keller got 7. There were a total of 20 possible points.

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The volunteer group also agreed to do away with Barry Goldwater and Baptist Pastor Billy Graham, who the board later voted to keep. And teachers will still be allowed to teach about such figures should officials approve the new curriculum during the final vote in November.

By contrast, local members of the Texas Legislature (whom fourth-graders learn about) got a flawless score, as did Barbara Jordan, Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin and Henry B. González.

"There were hundreds of people", said Misty Matthews, a committee member and teacher, about the volume of historical figures kids are required to learn. There also are no plans at this time to update textbooks or other teaching materials, so any mention of them in these documents will remain. Board members are able to amend their recommendations until then.

Additionally, the board is refusing to make several other changes to the curriculum recommended by experts for elimination, including the deletion of references to "Judeo-Christian values", and the alleged influence of Moses on the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

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