AUSTIN — The State Board of Education Board, ending nearly two years of politically divisive deliberations, approved new social studies curriculum standards for the state's 4.7 million students despite vigorous objections from the board's five minority members.
The revisions have drawn national attention amid complaints that conservative Republicans on the board are attempting to alter history and trying to inject their political beliefs into the curriculum. Minorities reiterated assertions that the standards obscured ignored the role of Hispanics and African-Americans in Texas history and gloss over generations of abuses.
Several minority members, previewing their intentions to vote against the curriculum standards, denounced the document and made an unsuccessful push to delay the final vote on the high school curriculum until the next board meeting in July.
"I don't know what this is,'' Rick Agosto, a San Antonio Democrat, said of the standards. "In the trash — that's exactly where I'm going to put it."
Mavis Knight, a Democrat from Dallas, called the product a "travesty," declaring: "I'm ashamed of what we have done to the students and teachers of this state."
But supporters rallied behind the new curriculum.
"I am proud to have my name on this document," said Republican Barbara Cargill of the Woodlands.
The 15-member board — composed of 10 Republicans and five Democrats — has spent nearly two years working on the revised standards, aided by experts and teacher review teams. The curriculum, which will be used in classrooms beginning with the 2011-12 school year, will also serve as a template for new textbooks. They will remain in effect for more than a decade.
Hispanic and African-American lawmakers have strongly suggested that they will try to withhold textbook funds if the standards are allowed to go into effect.
State Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, has announced plans to introduce legislation to reform or abolish the board.
Supporters defend the changes as balanced and accurate, contending that the controversy has been distorted in the media.
With one member absent, the board voted 9-5 to accept the new curriculum for kindergarten, elementary school and high school. The board's two African-Americans and three Hispanics, constituting the five Democratic votes, all dissented.
An economics section won unanimous approval.
After more than two days of debate, board members plodded more than 150 amendments that critics said made substantial changes that undid previous work. The board tentatively approved the standards in March.
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