The Texas Coalition for Human Rights shares concerns with other groups on a number of aspects of the current proposed Texas high school curriculum. Other groups are addressing many of them and we are focusing on the concerns related to the Middle East. The concerns we are highlighting are within 19 TAC Chapter 113, Subchapter C, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Social Studies, Section 113.42 World History Studies, (c) Knowledge and skills:
13 (F) explain how Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict.
13 (F) explain the causes of the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict.
The currently proposed 13(F) remains inaccurate and deceptive to students in framing the Israel/Palestine situation. 13(F) claims Arab rejection of the state of Israel when in fact Palestinians, the 'Arabs' involved in the ongoing conflict, recognized Israel as part of the Oslo Accords fifteen years ago. In fact the reverse of 13(F) is true: Israel has not recognized Palestine and is part of a small minority of countries in the world, including the United States, that has voted against recognition of Palestine as a state in the United Nations.
13(F) also remains inaccurate and deceptive by including the premise that Arabs cause the ongoing conflict. The ongoing military conflict is defined by the over 50 year Israeli occupation plus the over ten year blockade, neither of which are mentioned in the curriculum. The ongoing military occupation continues to systematically ethnically cleanse and take land by force against international law, in violation of the Geneva Conventions and U.N. resolutions. The 22 November 1967 Security Council Resolution 242 starts out with "Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war" and affirms the "(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict". It further "Affirms the necessity for achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem". Israel has yet to fulfill its duties under this resolution and others. The ongoing conflict is not an "Arab rejection of the State of Israel" but a rejection by a majority of the countries of the world of an illegal expulsion of the Palestinian population and theft of land, as evidenced by numerous resolutions in the United Nations.
Instead of asking students to explain an inaccurate and biased historical myth, the curriculum needs to require students to learn the causes of the conflict in Israel/Palestine from the perspectives of all the parties involved. The currently proposed 13(F) discourages thought and research, skills that should be part of the curriculum, by asking for the explanation of only one perspective. The currently proposed revision 13(F) maintains an oversimplified framing of numerous historical and political events and as a result limits the capacity of students to fully learn about the Middle East region. The proposed curriculum presents subjective conclusions rather than objectively teaching social studies.
14 (A) summarize the development and impact of radical Islamic fundamentalism on events in the second half of the 20th century, including [
Palestinian] terrorism and the growth of terrorist groups [ al Qaeda]; and
(B) explain the U.S. response to terrorism from September 11, 2001, to the present.
14 (A) summarize the development and impact of political parties in the Middle East as well as the rise of political and religious extremism in the second half of the 20th century.
Proposed 14(A) still only selects the study of religious terrorism leaving out political or state terrorism. Furthermore, in only covering religious terrorism, only Islam is covered when terrorism occurs daily based on the belief of some Jews and Christians of a promise of land ownership by God.
The curriculum is therefore discriminatory and xenophobic and has substantial potential to result in misinformed direct and indirect anti-Muslim bias in the classroom and beyond. Texas students will become tomorrow’s leaders and they need a fuller and more accurate understanding of topics such as terrorism/extremism. The currently proposed curriculum, including revisions, promote further misinformation by only presenting one narrative, a narrative promoting hate and bias rather than facts on the ground or multiple viewpoints.
Proposed 14(B) is narrow and misses the more important learning about the United States's actions and its consequences in the region. Terrorism has often been used as a pretext for military actions by governments. It would be more beneficial for students to learn to question if invading a country such as Afghanistan is the most effective way to fight a small terrorist group. Students would benefit by investigating and analyzing the reasons for our invasion of Iraq in 2003.
24 (D) explain how developments in Islam influenced [
influences] law and government in the Muslim world such as secularism, nationalism, and fundamentalism.
24 (D) explain how developments in religions influenced law and government in modern states and vice versa.
A single narrative stifles Texas students’ learning and understanding of social studies by implying that there is only one view. Furthermore, the proposed curriculum describes religion as influencing law and government but not the influence of law and government on the radicalization of religions. As in 14(A), the currently proposed curriculum is discriminatory and xenophobic and has substantial potential to result in misinformed direct and indirect anti-Muslim bias in the classroom and beyond. It significantly overlooks the causes of changes in religions.
As Texans, concerned parents, and educators, we object to the proposed curriculum and the insufficient revisions to 19 TAC Chapter 113, Subchapter C, Section 113.42 World History Studies, (c) Knowledge and skills: 13(F), 14(A) and 24(D). The proposed revisions maintain an oversimplified and single perspective framing of historical and political events and as a result limit student learning about the Middle East region. The proposed curriculum presents subjective conclusions rather than objectively teaching social studies skills including research, multiple perspective analysis and critical thinking.