TRANSLATED AND PROOFREAD BY MATHIEU POLLET
Hillary Clinton is to disappear from the social studies curriculum in Texas, following the State School Board’s preliminary vote on the 15th of September. A decision that is yet to be confirmed by a final vote, in spite of the controversy this is creating.
A will to “streamline” the curriculum.
According to the current curriculum, every state school must teach their students how to “understand the importance of effective leadership in a constitutional republic” and expect from them to be able to “evaluate the contributions of significant political and social leaders in the United States such as […] Hillary Clinton”. However, some teachers argued that there were too many historical figures to study, which resulted in the students memorizing names and dates, instead of actual learning and understanding.
The story first went public in the Dallas News. The State of Texas decided to “streamline” the curriculums – removing willingly a former First Lady and the first female presidential candidate nominated by a major party in the process. The ex-Secretary of State under Obama is not the only woman to be omitted. Hellen Keller, an American writer and feminist advocate, that had become deaf- mute very early in her life and the first disabled person to get a college degree, may not be studied in the classroom for much longer either.
A decision met by opposition
The news went viral on social networks and provoked predominantly flabbergasted and outraged reactions. Hillary Clinton was – amongst her major and impressive experiences – the first female senator of New York State. This is why some argue that removing her from school books amounts to the rewriting of the contemporary history of America. For many who are questioning the vote, it is suspected to be politically motivated.
Indeed, it has been pointed out that the vote allowed some other themes to remain or appear in the curriculum – whereas Hillary Clinton was not considered “essential” on a ranking system that the work group set up. Moses and the influence he had in the writing of founding American texts or the need for the students to be able to explain to what extent “Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict” should be included in the amended curriculum, despite their divisive nature.
One controversy after another
In 2013, the NGO Texas Freedom highlighted the fact that members of the Committee that were in charge of selecting the biology schoolbooks openly suggested to favour creationist thesis over Darwin’s theory of evolution – scientifically unchallenged by the worldwide community. In a report, the NGO underlines that David Bradley, Committee member and creationism advocate, had claimed in 2007: “If some of my associates want to believe their ancestors were monkeys, that is their right. I believe God is responsible for our creation” or even that Barbara Cargill, State Board of Education chair at the time, found it regrettable that the “weaknesses” of evolution were not taught (ie the cons of Darwin’s theory).
A few years earlier, advocates of creationism had tried to insert its teaching into the curriculums. The federal laws had prevented them from doing so then. Even if the federal laws supervise many legislations, States are sovereign in many fields. It explains that, possibly, a Dallas student will soon no longer hear about Hillary Clinton in the classroom while, 200 miles away, Oklahoma City students will be debating about her achievements.