Home > Uncategorized > Texas’ Social Studies and Science Curriculum Proof that Common Curriculum is Required

Texas’ Social Studies and Science Curriculum Proof that Common Curriculum is Required

Dartmouth writing instructor Ellen Bresler Rockmore’s article earlier this week described the subtle impact grammar has on the presentation of Texas’ newly revised social studies curriculum. As noted in earlier blog posts, Texas is one of many states that has refuted the Common Core while adopting their own standards that are embarrassingly anti-intellectual. Ms. Rockmore flags one of the particularly egregious changes that resulted in slaves being characterized as “workers” whose lives were relatively good. The article highlighted how the use of the passive voice in describing the horrors of slavery contrasted with the use of the active voice in describing it’s purported benefits, a contrast that brought to mind the blamelessness of language like “mistakes were made”.

As I trust Ms. Rockmore knows, presenting misinformation with poor grammar is only part of the problem. This whole episode underscores the real reason many states oppose a common curriculum and why one is needed if we are sincere in our desire to maintain our standing as the most educated nation in the world. Texas’ misrepresentation of slavery is bad and might be mitigated by the use of the active voice, but their exclusion of teaching on climate change and evolution cannot be fixed by improved grammar because nothing about it is written at all. States that rely on oil for revenue are unlikely to adopt curricula that address the effects of carbon emissions on the climate or unlikely to present information linking earthquakes to fracking. States with a legacy of slavery and lynchings are unlikely to bring those misdeeds to light or may, like Texas, misrepresent the impact of them on African Americans.

Unless we can agree on a common set of historical facts as a nation we will be hard pressed to find common ground on the causes of many of the social problems we face as a nation today and we will be more likely to continue the discriminatory practices that continue to divide us. It is a shame that we did not spend more time reaching a clearer and more common understanding of our past and more time learning the facts about science instead of spending time preparing for mindless examinations that prove what we already know: children raised in affluence do a better job on tests that children raised in poverty.

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