Texas School Board to set new standards for social studies curriculum

Members of the Texas school board, Wednesday, approved a new rule requiring all school districts to certify that online computer systems prevent students from accessing porn. 

As that agenda item was finalized, a group of citizens criticized the board for something it may not do.

"They asked for a two-year delay on an assignment to do a vague investigation," said Orlando Lara, who was among those upset with the board.

RELATED: Texas education board moves to delay updates to social studies curriculum after conservative pushback

On Tuesday, the Texas school board indicated they may push the process to set new standards for social studies to 2025. 

The draft proposals for the textbooks have been made by several working groups. They're intended to make history classes more inclusive, and reflective of the diverse communities that shaped Texas and the country. 

But what the textbooks could look like sparked emotional public comment.

"We don't cower. We don't cater just because it hurts someone's feelings. And we're not going to hug this one out," said a woman from North Texas.

That concern was disputed by a review member.

"There are factions in this room that will try to label any efforts that acculturate responsive curriculum as an example of critical race theory. This is falsely misleading," said the review member.

Progressive education advocates argue the delay is not justified and believe current social studies textbooks are outdated. They want updates that go beyond teaching more about different ethnic groups.

"Students must learn about all of this history in our nation, including the history of LGBTQIA Americans, so they can grow into kind and empathetic and informed adults," said Rev. Milo Grant from University Baptist Church.

That's a step too far for some conservatives.

"When it comes to LGBTQ issues we believe those shouldn't be discussed in school. Just like they voted two years ago in Health, parents do not want that issue discussed in any standards, so they shouldn't be in the social studies standards," said Mary Elizabeth Castle, with Texas Values.

Progressives say those pushing back are "right wing political extremists" who support SB 3 — that legislation, passed during the last session, includes requirements that class work be free of political bias. 

It also prevents teaching the idea that a person by virtue of their race or sex is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive. Complying with that, without a vote now on new textbooks, is a problem, according to a leader of a state teachers union.

"And educators right now are feeling like, 'I don't know what I can get that won't get me in trouble,' where is the guidance," said Ovidia Molina, with the Texas Teachers Association.

Officials at TEA said the board has a Dec. 31 deadline to review and revise the standards. A formal vote to delay is expected on Friday, Sept. 2. 

One or more special called meetings may be held before the end of the year in order to comply with requirements under SB 3.