Faith Groups Laud Resolution Accusing Texas of Biased Social Studies Standards

A coalition of faith groups were among the signers on a letter in support of U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson's (D-Texas) recent House Resolution accusing the Texas Board of Education of approving "politically biased standards" in its social studies curriculum.

Johnson's July 30 resolution alleged that the Texas board's curriculum changes, which include a "downplaying" of the struggle leading up the civil rights movement and the founding fathers' support of separation of church and state, were "outside the mainstream of historical scholarship."

"Standards that guide curriculum development, instruction, and assessment in classrooms that are developed by experts and not subject to political biases" should be enforced, Johnson said.

In a letter released Tuesday in support of Johnson, several groups said that they "greatly appreciated" Johnson's leadership on the issue, while noting that Texas' curriculum setting standards have "set a dangerous precedent that…could be repeated in other places."

"We agree that it should not be up to any politician to write history; instead teachers and experts in the field should be utilized to determine curriculum standards," they said.

Johnson's resolution is the latest challenge to the Texas board's controversial changes, which were approved in May and have received widespread criticism from various figures including U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan who said that we "do a disservice to children when we shield them from the truth, just because some people think it is painful or doesn't fit with their particular views."

Prominent Jewish group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), who also signed Tuesday's letter, said in May that they were "troubled" by the "inaccurate" curriculum as well as the Texas board's "disconcerting invocation promoting the Christian religion over all others."

"By Constitutional law, every American, Christian or otherwise, is entitled to individually worship the religion of his or her choice, or no religion at all," the ADL said.

Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) and a signer on Tuesday's letter: "The Texas School Board's handling of the social studies standards was a travesty. America's school children cannot be expected to learn accurate history if ideologues are allowed to manipulate the educational process."

"Teachers and scholars, not politicians, should take the lead in developing curriculum standards," he added. "The Texas School Board flunked its big test. I hope every member of Congress joins Rep. Johnson's resolution as a co-sponsor."

Faith-based groups signing the letter alongside ADL included the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, Catholics for Choice, the Hindu American Foundation, the Interfaith Alliance, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Texas Faith Network and the United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries.

Other signers include AU; the American Federation of Teachers; Americans for Religious Liberty; the American Association of University Women; the Center for Inquiry; the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network; the NAACP; the National Alliance of Black School Educators; the National Association of Secondary School Principals; the National Education Association; the National Council of La Raza; the National Women's Law Center; People for the American Way; the Secular Coalition for America; and the Texas Freedom Network.

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