By Kathy Miller

During this month’s State Board of Education debate concerning new social studies curriculum standards, sound scholarship once again took a back seat to politics and personal agendas.

At one point, for example, board members voted to delete Dolores Huerta from a standard because the co-founder of United Farm Workers of America is a socialist. The same board members apparently didn’t realize that Helen Keller, who remains in the same standard, was also a staunch socialist. Nor did they seem to know that W.E.B. Du Bois, who helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), had joined the Communist Party the last year of his life. The board had added Du Bois to the standards the day before.

Of course, social studies students should learn about contributions of all three of these important Americans, regardless of their political beliefs. But board members clearly looked misinformed as, during just two days, they made wholesale revisions to standards that teachers, scholars and other community members had spent nearly a year debating and drafting. And many of the changes were based simply on board members’ personal beliefs or knowledge, however limited.
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