Commentary: Process for Texas' education standards needs work

Where you stand on the new social studies standards adopted by the State Board of Education might depend on where you sit on the political spectrum: Did board members stand up for truth, justice and historical accuracy — or so shamefully botch the revisions as to endanger the minds of almost 5 million impressionable Texas schoolchildren?

Neither extreme is quite accurate.

But the volatile debate has been less about academic accuracy than about agendas.

Outspoken political conservatives on the board wanted the standards to reflect their beliefs that the Founding Fathers didn't want "separation of church and state," that "free enterprise" sounds less pejorative than "capitalism" and that international bodies such as the United Nations threaten U.S. sovereignty.

Hispanic and black members on the board argued that the standards were distorted and unfairly gave important historical figures of color short shrift.

It might seem a good thing that hundreds of people were exercised enough about what's being taught in Texas public schools that they wanted to give the State Board of Education their input.

But too much of the debate was driven by intemperate exaggeration. And the resulting hoopla made Texas a national spectacle.

Instead of relying on the educator panels that initially undertook the standards update, board members appointed a panel that included historical revisionists who proposed changes that weren't academically well-grounded.

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