Politics and the History Curriculum

The Struggle over Standards in Texas and the Nation

THE POLITICIANS AND PASTORS who revised the Texas social studies standards made national and international headlines. However, much of that coverage was sensational and squeezed the process into a narrow “culture war” storyline. Politics and the History Curriculum sets the debate over the Texas standards within a broader context by exploring the tangled and powerful mixture of politics, religion, media, and education. This volume provides a clear analysis of what happened and why, along with sensible recommendations for teachers and policy makers.

“What’s the matter with Texas? Outsiders too often dismiss it as an overgrown and ignorant child, shrouded in right-wing politics and fundamentalist religion. But that view is itself a gross caricature, as this close study of history and myth-making in Texas demonstrates. Rooting their story firmly in the social and political history of the Lone Star State, Keith A. Erekson and his colleagues bust a few big myths themselves. Read this book if you want to understand why Texans continue to contest their shared past, and why the rest of us should stop condescending to them.”

–Jonathan Zimmerman, professor of Education and History, New York University

“In these behind-the-scene essays, history educators and all citizens interested in history education will find chilling accounts of how the conservative Christian right played power politics to ensure that young Texans learn a largely white-washed U.S. history while remaining uneducated about world history. The essays in this important book give voice to teachers and history professors who were steamrollered by the Texas Board of Education.”

–Gary Nash, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, UCLA;
Director, National Center for History in the Schools

“Politics and the History Curriculum offers the most comprehensive, thought-provoking, and timely examination yet of the ongoing controversy over history standards in Texas and across the nation. As an historian and textbook author, I especially appreciate the range and analytical quality of the essays collected here. This book is a must-read for any teacher, administrator, or citizen engaged with these issues.”

–Daniel Czitrom, co-author, Out of Many: A History of the American People


Rewriting History in Texas

  1. Culture War Circus: How Politics and the Media Left History Education Behind by Keith A. Erekson
  2. “As Texas Goes, So Goes the Nation”: Conservatism and Culture Wars in the Lone Star State by Gene B. Preuss
  3. Hijacks and Hijinks on the US History Review Committee by Laura K. Muñoz and Julio Noboa
  4. A Voice Crying in the Wilderness? An Expert Reviewer’s Experience by Jesús F. de la Teja
  5. Negotiating for Quality: Taking a Proactive Approach to Achieve a Positive Outcome by Stephen Cure
  6. Moving the Liberal-Minority Coalition Up the Education Pipeline by Emilio Zamora

Analysis and Alternatives

  1. Names, Numbers, and Narratives: A Multicultural Critique of the US History Standards by Julio Noboa
  2. Why Do We Think of America as a Christian Nation? by Richard T. Hughes
  3. Neo-Confederate Ideology in the Texas History Standards by Edward H. Sebesta
  4. A Missed Opportunity for World History in Texas by David C. Fisher
  5. Standards before Standardization: The Affiliated Schools Program, 1885-1917 by Linda J. Black
  6. A Perfect Storm in Austin and Beyond: Making the Case—and Place—for US History in Texas and the Nation by Linda K. Salvucci