There are at least 5.4 million children is Texas public schools and each and every year a small group of educators, who seem to love controversy, decide what and how those 5.4 million children will be taught.
This year, the State Board of Education (SBOE) decided to pick on not only Texas history, but perhaps the most sacred of all--The Alamo.
One of the most idealistically gutted publications in the state, Texas Monthly, actually pulled the rabbit out of the hat last week when they release a report suggesting that the Texas State Board of Education would discuss removing a reference to the Alamo's defenders as "heroic" from the state's middle school social studies curriculum requirements. Almost every news outlet in the state--including Matt Briscoe's Texas Connection-- picked up on this years controversy.
Land Commissioner George P. Bush called the proposed revision "politically correct nonsense." Gov. Greg Abbott urged the board not to delete the word "heroic." The state's socially charged Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said “It’s time to draw a line in the sand on political correctness in our schools.” But then it happened--Texans from around the state threw in their comments and did what Texans do--raised a lot of Hell about the issue.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Education Board dug into what seemed to be endless proposed changes to the state's K-12 social studies curriculum standards.
"I stand before you today as a member of one of your volunteer workgroups maligned by some of our state's highest elected officials and respected media outlets," Stephen Cure, the former director of education with the Texas State Historical Association, told the board. "Let's set the record straight."
There are 15 members of the Texas State Board of Education who are elected to four-year terms. Each year, the Education Board nominates a group of volunteers, just like those heroes from Tennessee who came to Texas and fought at the Alamo. Those volunteers that are appointed by the board, are given the charge to review and update textbooks and curriculum standards for science, social studies, math, along with most any other item in the State's education plan.
The process has always been a source of controversy. a few years ago, the appointed members took on the topic of evolution. In 2014, math standards were revised, drawing criticisms from parents and teachers. And earlier this year, a new Mexican American studies course was the subject of the latest culture war.
Part of this controversial little band of volunteers was charged with the task of streamlining the state's social studies curriculum. Among the thousands of recommendations the group released in August was the deletion of the phrase "and all the heroic defenders who gave their lives there" from required middle school teachings on the Alamo.
"'Heroic,' is a value charged word," the group wrote in its notes.
At least 50 brave members of the public, who understand the importance of civic engagement of public officials showed up to Tuesday's board meeting. Of those was Houston are legislator Ted Poe.
"The elites who want to rip the Travis letter from our history books dishonor the sacrifice of the 180 freedom fighters who gave their last full measure of devotion to liberty," Poe told the board. "The words in that letter are just as much a part of who we are as the blood of liberty than runs through our veins."
Cure decided that he would try and help reach a comprise between upset Texans and the PC Mafia.
"You can't teach the siege of the Alamo without teaching the [Travis] letter and the heroism. As the Declaration of Independence says, it's 'self evident,'" Cure said. "Our primary goal, or primary path, was to reduce the amount of content in the standards."
He also suggested replacing the phrase "the siege of the Alamo and all the heroic defenders who gave their lives there," with "the siege of the Alamo ... and the heroism of the diverse defenders who gave their lives there."
Cure also suggested adding the Travis letter back into the required teachings.
Members of the board seemed to accept the suggestion and were willing to put the political firestorm to bed.
Shortly after the news broke that there had been a deal possibly reached between Texans and the PC Mafia, Governor Abbott weighed in on the decision via Twitter.
"GREAT NEWS," he tweeted. "State Board signals it will keep reference to 'heroic' Alamo defenders in Texas history curriculum. They died fighting for Texas independence. That is the epitome of heroic. Thanks to all Texas patriots who weighed in."
So for now, it seems that the fight over the heroes of the Alamo has been set aside and put to rest, until the PC Mafia devises another plan to make Texas a little more towards the way that they think it ought to look.