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Editorial: Texas schools to erase important historical figures

Hillary+Clinton+became+the+first+woman+to+win+the+nomination+for+president+from+a+major+party+in+the+United+States+on+the+final+night+of+the+Democratic+National+Convention+on+July+28%2C+2016.+The+State+Board+of+Education+in+Texas+voted+Friday+to+remove+Hillary+Clinton+and+Helen+Keller%2C+as+well+as+other+historical+figures%2C+from+the+curriculum.
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Editorial: Texas schools to erase important historical figures

Hillary Clinton became the first woman to win the nomination for president from a major party in the United States on the final night of the Democratic National Convention on July 28, 2016. The State Board of Education in Texas voted Friday to remove Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller, as well as other historical figures, from the curriculum.

Hillary Clinton became the first woman to win the nomination for president from a major party in the United States on the final night of the Democratic National Convention on July 28, 2016. The State Board of Education in Texas voted Friday to remove Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller, as well as other historical figures, from the curriculum.

Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Hillary Clinton became the first woman to win the nomination for president from a major party in the United States on the final night of the Democratic National Convention on July 28, 2016. The State Board of Education in Texas voted Friday to remove Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller, as well as other historical figures, from the curriculum.

Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Hillary Clinton became the first woman to win the nomination for president from a major party in the United States on the final night of the Democratic National Convention on July 28, 2016. The State Board of Education in Texas voted Friday to remove Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller, as well as other historical figures, from the curriculum.

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

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In an effort to decrease the number of names students have to memorize, the State Board of Education in Texas took a preliminary vote on Sept. 14 to “streamline” its curriculum and remove several important historical figures from mandatory study lists — including Helen Keller, Hillary Clinton and Barry Goldwater.

By choosing which historical figures and events are worth the time it takes to teach them — removing Clinton and Keller will free up an estimated 30 and 40 minutes of classroom time, respectively — the board is denying students the opportunity to learn about individuals and events that have directly influenced their lives. This ignorance makes them less informed and less able to participate in current politics.

Every year, the board nominates parents, teachers and businesspeople to review the state’s mandatory curriculum and propose changes to keep the material updated. For a body of volunteers tasked with keeping students up to date, the group seems to have slid backwards instead of forwards this year.

These decisions don’t mean that teachers in Texas can’t mention Keller or Clinton. They just mean that teaching about these people’s lives and impact on the country won’t be mandatory.

The move to eliminate Hillary Clinton from the list seems mostly politically motivated. She’s earned her 30 minutes in the history classroom as the first female presidential nominee of a major party in the United States and an outspoken First Lady. But it’s not far-fetched for a majorly red state like Texas to take the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate off the curriculum.

Removing Helen Keller, however, is a decision that suggests exposing children to a variety of people from different backgrounds should be avoided. A statement from the group that made this decision claims that “Helen Keller does not best represent the concept of citizenship. Military and first responders are best represented.”

According to data from the Texas Education Agency, during the 2017-18 school year almost half a million students received special education services for a disability. About 11,000 of those were deaf, blind or had auditory or hearing impairments. To remove an icon like Keller, who advocated for the blind and deaf, would suggest to these students that they have no place in history. Despite the board’s statement, military and first responders are not represented among the names the board chose to keep in the curriculum. It decided to keep former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial and mandated the teaching that Moses, a biblical figure from the Old Testament, contributed to the founding of U.S. laws and politics.

Texas has the chance to annually review and update the material it gives its students, but they’ve missed the mark this year. When the final vote is taken in November, the board would do well to remember what the changes it proposes will mean to its students.

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Editorial: Texas schools to erase important historical figures