The Fox News Channel has been airing remarkably inaccurate segments this week about the State Board of Education’s debate over social studies curriculum. (The SBOE begins its three-day debate today.)
This morning’s segment on Fox & Friends was so misleading, I was hard-pressed to find a single factual statement. In fact, the very name of the piece—”Texas Textbook Wars”—is inaccurate. (The SBOE is debating curriculum standards, which can impact textbook content, but textbooks themselves aren’t on the table.)
The Texas Education Agency took the rare step of putting out a press release today to correct the mistakes in the Fox segment. Read the TEA release here (I’ll paste it below).
But first, you really should watch the clip from this morning’s Fox & Friends. The anchors assert, incorrectly, that the SBOE is considering removing references to the Founding Fathers, the Constitution and holidays like Independence Day and Christmas. And that history class would start in the year 1877. It’s a must-watch.
Here’s the full text of the TEA fact check of Fox:
AUSTIN – The Fox Network in recent days has repeatedly broadcast highly inaccurate information about the State Board of Education’s efforts to adopt the new social studies curriculum standards.
Here are the facts. The direct quotes come from the March 10 broadcast of Fox & Friends.
Fox: “Texas board of education begins hearings today on proposed changes to textbooks…”
The truth: The State Board of Education today is expected to take a preliminary vote on updated social studies curriculum standards. The standards detail what teachers are to teach in each class. New social studies textbooks are not scheduled to be selected until 2011.
Fox: “So one of the proposed changes is to start history class in the year 1877.”
The truth: Texas has and always will teach U.S. History from the beginning until present day. U.S. History through Reconstruction is taught in the eighth grade and those standards can be found in the middle school standards, which are called Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Here is a link to the middle school standards: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/teks/social/MS_TEKS_amended.pdf. U.S. History since 1877 is taught in 11th grade.
Fox: Abraham Lincoln and George Washington have been removed from the textbooks.
The truth: The standards, not textbook, are before the board this week. Lincoln is required to be included in the first and eighth grade history classes, as well as in the U.S. government class. Washington is required to be taught in kindergarten, first grade, fifth grade and eighth grade. Here is a link to a document detailing those historical figures, including Lincoln and Washington, who are required to be taught as part of the standards: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/teks/social/AlphabetizedList_including.pdf. There is another list of individuals who are suggested for inclusion and it can be found here: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/teks/social/AlphabetizedList_such_as.pdf. Additional modifications are still possible to both lists as the board debates the standards during its March and May meeting.
Fox: Independence Day and Veteran’s Day are being deleted from the textbooks.
The truth: Again, the new history textbooks have not been written yet but they will be based on the curriculum standards adopted by the board. The standards currently under consideration cover Independence Day in kindergarten, second and fifth grades. Veteran’s Day is included in kindergarten, first, second and fifth grades.
Fox: References to Christmas have been deleted.
The truth: A TEKS review committee briefly recommended removing Christmas from a list that mentioned one major holiday for each of the world’s religions. The committee recommended leaving Easter in the document. The State Board immediately rejected this idea and a reference to Christmas was restored in the standards months ago and can be found in sixth grade in standard 19(b).
Fox: Textbooks adopted in Texas will be used classrooms across the country.
The truth: Each state has its own textbook selection process. Publishers may offer other states the Texas edition of a book but they are not required to select it.
Citizens can read the standards for themselves at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=3643. A live webcast of the meeting, which begins at 11 a.m. today, can be viewed at http://www.texasadmin.com/cgi-bin/tea.cgi.