Arian Shariatmadari
Mercury Staff

State Board of Education should not let political bias enter classrooms

Judeo-Christianity, the Alamo and the removal of important female figures — the Texas State Board of Education’s committee hearings may be the most ridiculously “Texas” things one could expect. In mid-September, over the course of four days, the committee members of the SBOE discussed a number of changes to the public school’s curriculum before coming to a final vote on Sep. 14. But one proposed change particularly sticks out — just how did the first and only female presidential nominee of a major political party in U.S. history get removed from Texas’s high school curriculum?

The answer starts with the work-study groups. The metric that the SBOE used to determine which individuals were important enough to remain in the curriculum was the opinion of a group of volunteers . When surveyed among other notable names, Hillary Clinton scored very low. This was the indicator the board used to determine that she was not necessary to the required curriculum. No historians, political scientists or academic sources were present — it was simply a group of volunteers.

It is no secret that Texas is a deeply red state, and although the trend shows that it is becoming less red, it is still proudly conservative. It would be safe to assume that just like the SBOE itself, a volunteer-based workgroup would comprised a similar distribution. When asking a proud conservative — whose main hobbies may include complaining about Barack Obama, complaining about political correctness or watching Fox News pundits complain about Obama and political correctness — to judge the importance of Hillary Clinton, bias has a major role to play in their decision to give her such a low score.

I myself have not been the biggest fan of Hillary Clinton, because to me, she never seemed genuine in her stances and had a few too many instances of pandering. But even her biggest opponents would have a hard time debating her importance in national politics. Not only did she accomplish the task of becoming the first female presidential nominee of a major political party, she also won the popular vote in the national election. So, when you find out that on a scale from 1 to 20, the fact that the former secretary of state scored below 10 is a red flag. What is even more concerning is the fact that she not only scored below 10, but she scored a 5 out of 20. The removal of Hillary Clinton was just the start. Helen Keller, an important figure in our nations’ history and a champion for Americans with disabilities, was also removed from the curriculum. During her time educating the world about people with disabilities, she also championed women’s rights and birth control.

The reason Hellen Keller and Hilary Clinton were ever put in the curriculum is because of their individual efforts and their unique impacts, but there is something much more profound that connects both of these figures. Both are women who spent their lives attempting to break the ceiling, showing future generations that what was expected of them is not what they did for the rest of their lives. You might think there are different reasons leading to this, but at the end of the day, what I do know is that two very influential women from U.S. history were deemed “not important enough” to the SBOE, and as a result, many children may be given two less female figures to help them feel like they can break the glass ceiling. For those concerned about the changes in the proposal, there is a glimmer of hope. The board recently voted on amendments to the curriculum, and the revisions have all been agreed upon. The actual vote to officially implement the changes, however, will be held in November. As long as members of the board can hear from their constituents, they may realize that there is a difference between what the work-group thinks and what the electorate thinks children should be learning.

At the end of the day, members of the SBOE are elected representatives, and as constituents, we have the ability to prevent this removal from happening.