The Texas Board of Education (SBOE) recently voted to drop historical figures like Hillary Clinton, Helen Keller and Barry Goldwater from the social studies curriculum schools are required to teach. Some women's rights activists aren't happy about the change; however, others support the move for a range of reasons. The Texas Board of Education says they're making the changes to give teachers more time to teach the remaining TEKS.

What Are TEKS Again?

The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills are referred to as TEKS by anyone in education, but even educators are never completely sure if it's pronounced "teeks" or "tex." There's no such thing as just one TEK, all the letters make up the acronym.

Each subject has a set of TEKS for the grade.

Standardized state testing is based on the TEKS, and students build on their knowledge every year. For example, kindergarten TEKS require students identify the sounds letters represent and begin to decode or "sound out" three or four letter words in text. Then in first grade they move on to blending consonants like "bl," "st," and "tr."

Social studies has its own set of TEKS. In kindergarten students learn about themselves as part of the classroom community. Each year that circle gets bigger as students begin to understand their relationship to history and the world.

TEKS and Testing

State testing is tied to the TEKS. If a TEKS talks about a historical figure by name, you can almost bet that person will be on the state STAAR test. Are you getting tired of acronyms yet?

In third grade, the standard 3.11B says students will "Identify historical figures such as Helen Keller and Clara Barton and contemporary figures such as Ruby Bridges and military and first responders who exemplify good citizenship."

That's a lot of things to go over, especially the year teachers are also introducing multiplication and preparing students to take their first STAAR test. Under the revised standards teachers are still allowed to teach the Helen Keller unit, they're just not required to.

What About Clinton?

What our high school students are learning is tough! It made my head hurt when I read TEKS 22(A) that says students will "discuss Alexis de Tocqueville's five values crucial to America's success as a constitutional republic: liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, populism and laissez-faire"

I'm so glad I'm not in high school! Here's the one that mentions Hilary Clinton:

24(B) evaluate the contributions of significant political and social leaders in the United States such as Andrew Carnegie, Thurgood Marshall, Billy Graham, Barry Goldwater, Sandra Day O'Connor and Hillary Clinton.

Clinton made history when she became the first female presidential nominee from a major party. Again, teachers can teach about Clinton if they want to, but it's no longer a requirement.

Remember the Alamo

Another controversial decision the board voted on surrounded Alamo TEKS. Original language described defenders as "heroic," and a committee recommended that word be removed because it was "value charged."

Texans were understandably outraged. Governor Greg Abbott tweeted "Stop political correctness in our schools. Of course Texas schoolchildren should be taught that Alamo defenders were 'Heroic'! Contact your SBOE member to complain."

SBOE representatives heard the protest and they're keeping the word "heroic."


What are your thoughts on these changes? We'd love to hear them.

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