AUSTIN — Former Education Secretary Rod Paige on Wednesday expressed opposition to revised social studies curriculum standards being prepared for the state's 4.7 million public school students, urging members of the State Board of Education not to let personal ideology shape "what is taught to our children."
Paige, a former Houston school superintendent who directed the nation's education policies in President George W. Bush's administration, was one of more than 200 witnesses scheduled to testify at a hearing Wednesday as the 15-member board opened a three day meeting on the revised standards.
The board will consider amendments on Thursday and take a final vote on Friday.
The revisions have drawn nationwide attention amid charges that conservative Republicans on the board are attempting to alter history and inject their political beliefs into the curriculum. Minority groups contend that the standards have also diminished the historical role of African-Americans and Hispanics. Supporters defend the changes as balanced and accurate, contending that the controversy has been distorted in the media.
Paige, the first African-American to serve as education secretary, called on the board to "take another look" at how minorities and the civil rights movement are portrayed in the standards.
"History is what it is, whether it's fair or unfair," he said. "Those personalities and events that developed our nation are part of our history and should be explained."
As an example, Paige cited Hendrick Arnold, an African-American who participated in Texas' revolution from Mexico. "An important personality like that is stealth to our students," Paige said. "Don't redact key personalities."
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