State Senator Dan Patrick, R-Houston, took to his Facebook page on Sunday to defend his proposed legislation to alter the core curriculum requirements of Texas and American history at public colleges and universities. (h/t Texas Tribune) SB 1128 would make history courses on "singular topics," like race, gender and class, ineligible to satisfy core history requirements, i.e. the history classes that non-history majors have to take to graduate.
The reason I filed this bill is because last year the National Academy of Scholars wrote that both UT & A&M are not teaching a broad history of our nation, but rather singular topics on race, gender, and topics like the Culture of Alcohol and Drugs, the History of Popular Music, or even a narrow topic like the history of Sea Power. Those courses are fine and can be taken as an elective if students are interested, but they should be the make up of the credits needed to graduate with a degree in History in the view of the scholars and in my view as well.
Not surprisingly, supporters of ethnic, class and gender studies don't appreciate politicians lumping those topics with alcohol, pop music and sea power. Latino activists are protesting the bill, and a Change.org petition calling to stop the bill has 912 signatures as of this posting.
In his post, Patrick laments that these groups should "spend their time and energy supporting my education policy for more choice for the hundreds of thousands of minority students who are dropping out of our schools, or graduating with minimum skills." It is currently unclear how removing course options leads to more choices.
The study Patrick used as the basis for SB 1128, "Recasting History," was published by the National Association of Scholars, a conservative nonprofit founded in 1987 to focus on higher education. Among the NAS's many concerns: "the overemphasis on race, gender, class, sexual orientation," "the declining study of Western civilization," and the "trends" of multiculturalism, diversity and sustainability.
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"Recasting History" actually doesn't mention pop culture or sea power. It deals exclusively with reading assignments and professor research interests, and whether they pertain to race, gender and class (RCG in the report) or "military, diplomatic, religious, intellectual history."
Patrick's post has elicited a range of responses. "Stay strong and keep fighting the good fight," one commenter wrote. "Don't let those hate groups get you down."
From the other side: "Although you might be naively well intended, perhaps what you don't understand is that the Mexican American / Tejano / Texican history and / or story is virtually NONEXISTENT from Texas, much less 'American' history. Please pick up a seventh grade Texas history book and see for yourself. Whatever you find in there is pretty much all you're going to get. Mexican Americans are simply telling their (our) story the same way Anglo/Irish/German Americans have told theirs."
A touchy subject.