You just can't get around it. Public education always involves the teaching of certain standards. And some authority or group of authorities must decide on the standards. The only question is, what authorities?
In the teaching of social studies, particularly history, there are all sorts of decisions that must be made. What historical personages and movements are emphasized? What is left out? How is it taught?
A case in point is the dispute in Texas over history standards. Texas, by the way, is especially influential because national textbook publishers often follow the leads established by Texas.
You can read about it in this article from the Houston Chronicle:
New Standards in History Class (Gary Scharrer, March 13th, 2010).
The State Board of Education tentatively approved new standards for social studies Friday with members divided along party lines â€” some blasting them as a fraud and conservative whitewash, others praising them as a tribute to the Founding Fathers that rightly portrays America as an exceptional country. The standards, which will influence history and government textbooks arriving in public schools in fall 2011, were adopted by 10 Republicans against five Democrats after weeks of debate and across a racial and ideological chasm that seemed to grow wider as the proposal was finalized Thursday.
So when it refers to "a racial and ideological chasm" what does the "racial" part mean?
Well, here's what the article says :
Democrats on the board â€” all of them black or Hispanic â€” complained the new standards dilute minority contributions to Texas and U.S. history.
Notice that all Democrats on the board are black or Hispanic. And, as mass immigration continues to make Texas a more diverse state, we can expect more and more of this sort of dispute.
In the meantime, there is to be a public hearing on the document and a final vote in May.