This letter from Houston State Rep. Alma Allen went out today to local Democratic party leaders in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin. Allen is angry because the Republicans who control the State Board of Education (for now) do not have a standard of essential knowledge that requires students to know the name of the president of the United States. Here is the text of the letter: Dear Fellow Texan, You turned out in record numbers in 2008 to cast your vote for change. But extremist Republicans on the State Board of Education want to undo your vote and make sure our children never hear the name Barack Obama by eliminating his name from our children’s textbooks. (Instructions follow for how people can comment on the actions the SBOE has taken to this point.) We only have until Wednesday to send public comments before the SBOE’s final approval of the politically charged textbooks that will be used in Texas classrooms for the next ten years. It is downright silly that a Texas public school student in 2019 could be taught that in 2008, America elected our first African American President but not be told his name. Click the last public comment option and make it clear to the far right wing of the SBOE that’s determined to keep President Obama out of textbooks that Texas kids deserve a quality education, not a politicized version of history. As an educator and former member of the State Board of Education, I am appalled that these cynical Republicans would deny our children not only a non-partisan history book, but a real lesson in the American dream. Texas kids should be taught they can grow up to achieve their goals, regardless of race, gender or religion. And maybe even one day become America’s next president. While I do think that it is ridiculous for the SBOE not to require that Texas school children know the name of the first African-American president, other requirements do require that students learn about the 2008 election and the election of the first African-American president, what’shisname. Furthermore, even the SBOE’s harshest critics concede that the publisher will certainly mention Obama’s name, even if it is not required that Texas school children know it. The strange thing about this mini-flap is that Rep. Allen’s son, Lawrence, is a member of the SBOE and Ms. Allen could have requested that he make sure that Obama’s name is included in the requirements.
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