Sen. Dan Patrick Says Bill to Limit Race-Focused College History Courses Not About Limiting Race-Focused College History Courses

danpatrick.jpg
State Senator Dan Patrick
State Senator Dan Patrick, R-Houston, took to his Facebook page on Sunday to defend his proposed legislation to alter the core curriculum requirements of Texas and American history at public colleges and universities. (h/t Texas Tribune) SB 1128 would make history courses on "singular topics," like race, gender and class, ineligible to satisfy core history requirements, i.e. the history classes that non-history majors have to take to graduate.

The reason I filed this bill is because last year the National Academy of Scholars wrote that both UT & A&M are not teaching a broad history of our nation, but rather singular topics on race, gender, and topics like the Culture of Alcohol and Drugs, the History of Popular Music, or even a narrow topic like the history of Sea Power. Those courses are fine and can be taken as an elective if students are interested, but they should be the make up of the credits needed to graduate with a degree in History in the view of the scholars and in my view as well.

Not surprisingly, supporters of ethnic, class and gender studies don't appreciate politicians lumping those topics with alcohol, pop music and sea power. Latino activists are protesting the bill, and a Change.org petition calling to stop the bill has 912 signatures as of this posting.

In his post, Patrick laments that these groups should "spend their time and energy supporting my education policy for more choice for the hundreds of thousands of minority students who are dropping out of our schools, or graduating with minimum skills." It is currently unclear how removing course options leads to more choices.

The study Patrick used as the basis for SB 1128, "Recasting History," was published by the National Association of Scholars, a conservative nonprofit founded in 1987 to focus on higher education. Among the NAS's many concerns: "the overemphasis on race, gender, class, sexual orientation," "the declining study of Western civilization," and the "trends" of multiculturalism, diversity and sustainability.

"Recasting History" actually doesn't mention pop culture or sea power. It deals exclusively with reading assignments and professor research interests, and whether they pertain to race, gender and class (RCG in the report) or "military, diplomatic, religious, intellectual history."

Patrick's post has elicited a range of responses. "Stay strong and keep fighting the good fight," one commenter wrote. "Don't let those hate groups get you down."

From the other side: "Although you might be naively well intended, perhaps what you don't understand is that the Mexican American / Tejano / Texican history and / or story is virtually NONEXISTENT from Texas, much less 'American' history. Please pick up a seventh grade Texas history book and see for yourself. Whatever you find in there is pretty much all you're going to get. Mexican Americans are simply telling their (our) story the same way Anglo/Irish/German Americans have told theirs."

A touchy subject.


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45 comments
bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

Because, of course, our legislators are so very well informed on the broad history of our nation.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

Legislators should keep their hands off decisions regarding curriculum in schools. period.

ruddski
ruddski

Study of the various races/ethnicities/genders/identities is important for the future, because that's how stuff will be divvied up. If we are ignorant of our common diversity, how can we assure that every identity group gets their fair portion of pie?

CraigT42
CraigT42

Personally I am of two minds on this. I am guessing he is probably coming at this from a ethnocentric ignorant direction, on the other hand my required history class at UNT last semester could have been titled "White People suck, and here's why". Diversity should definitely be studied and included in any history class, but you don't balance scales by moving all the weight from one side to the other.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

So, fat piggy-face with the false teeth would prefer that students grow into another generation like his, ignorant of diverse cultures?

GuitarPlayer
GuitarPlayer

Oh come on, this guy is just concerned about his White race being marginalized. I mean have you seen how they are treated these days? Poor White folk. Fight the POWER!!

ruddski
ruddski

If you want to study, say, Asian women, would that mean a semester of gender study/wimmin and a semester of race study/Asian, or can they be combined?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Ethno-centric courses should be an elective, not a core requirement for all students.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

The declining study of Western civilization?  *eesh*

More like the study of the decline of Western civilization.

observist
observist topcommenter

@bmarvel    "broad history of our nation"   

...the preferred name is Women's Studies.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@mavdog As long as they pipe taxpayer dollars to it, they are going to keep their fingers in the academic pie.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@mavdog Then who would make those decisions, and how would we make sure no one gets slighted, disenfranchised, or socially/culturally/academically neglected?

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@ruddski Funny, but even when you're right, ruddski, you SOUND wrong.

GuitarPlayer
GuitarPlayer

@ruddski

"Study of the various races/ethnicities/genders/identities is important for the future, because that's how stuff will be divvied up."

Yeah, because that's not happening now? LMAO WTF?

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@holmantx I don't know Holman.  Studying Jim Crow, and really understanding the weakness of the Whites, the selfish way the looked the other way, explains how some people can continue to advocate policies with no concern for anyone else.  Like how some can continue to espouse views and their bumper sticker economic theories after having the falsity of their argument revealed to them.  That suggest that those how KNOW the history, are too damned cowardly and selfish to speak the truth.  That's a good lesson that you failed to learn.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@holmantx How can you possibly understand the U.S. without understanding its ethnicities?

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk or perhaps he meant " ... a decline in the study of Western civilization ... "


As to the comment about the middle school requirement for Texas history, there is also a requirement for a course in American history.  The Texas history requirement is no different that the state history course requirements in other states.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@observist Shouldn't that be "history of our broad nation"?

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@rtgolden

the existing local school boards and the SBOE already have the ability.

sometimes to screw it up, but do we need more of it?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@bmarvel @holmantx

Possibly the dumbest statement made to date.

You think you have some special knowledge of ethnicities via instruction that yield a better understanding of America, college boy?  

Oh the unbearable lightness of being truly educated.

The principle feature of American liberalism is sanctimoniousness. By loudly denouncing all bad things—war and hunger and date rape—liberals testify to their own terrific goodness. More important, they promote themselves to membership in a self-selecting elite of those who care deeply about such things. . . . It’s a kind of natural aristocracy, and the wonderful thing about this aristocracy is that you don’t have to be brave, smart, strong or even lucky to join it, you just have to be liberal. - P. J. O’Rourke (b. 1947), U.S. journalist. Give War a Chance, Introduction (1992).

observist
observist topcommenter

@bmarvel @holmantx   I think there's legitimate concern that college kids can meet a history requirement by taking classes on professors' narrow thesis specialties (Impact of Native Guatemalan Culture in Southeast North Dakota) without understanding the basic timeline of major historical events.  (Abraham Lincoln did not declare war after the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.)   It's like meeting a cooking requirement by taking cake decorating, poi preparation and yogurt making, yet still not learning how to prepare a simple meal.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @TheCredibleHulk 

I understood exactly what he meant. His concern over the decline of the study of "our" history is writ large in his support of the conclusions of the NAS.

I sincerely doubt he would understand my juxtaposition of his words, though.

GuitarPlayer
GuitarPlayer

@ruddski  

"Chord fuckers"?  lol  Lame. How does one fuck a chord? You really need to get out more and stop watching lamb porn, Sheep Fucker.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@holmantx  You're really no fun to argue with, holmantx,  because you never actually say anything. I read through your sad yelp three times, wondering, What in the world is he tryng to say? 

"ethnicities via instruction...unbearble lightness...American liberalizsm..." And then P.J. O'Rourke! At least O'Rourke can write. And he's funny.

Rather than interpret and get it wrong, holmantx, I'll suggest you try again. Put it into plain English. If you think you can do that. Then maybe we'll have something to talk about. 

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@observist There is, or should be, no such thing as "white guy" or "no white guy' history. There is only history. Any course on, say, Texas history that does no spend chunks of time on the history of Mexico or of slavery or Indians is a waste of tuition and a fraud. You can't teach the history of the American Frontier and leave out women, Indians, immigrants, and -- yes -- labor and capital. You can't learn anything useful about America without learning about religion. And so it goes.

This business of chopping up history as though it were a chicken for the stew pot is the work of politics -- left AND right -- and not history. The real work of history is putting the story together. Without slave-masters and their culture, there would be no slavery. Without labor there would be no capital. Without immigrants here would be no America. Without women, there would be no history.

observist
observist topcommenter

As an aside, I think history would be more interesting to students if it was taught in reverse chronological order, starting with current events and following precedents backwards.  When a history starts off with Pilgrims and Puritans it can be painfully boring and removed from anything relevant to students' lives.

observist
observist topcommenter

@bmarvel@observist  I think we're pretty much in agreement.  I went to a big state university in the late 80's and by then it was possible to learn a "no white guys" history as opposed to the "only white guys" history you implied you experienced.   At the time Alan Bloom was griping about exactly this notion in "The Closing of the American Mind".  

I read Sen Patrick's FB post and SB1128 and it seems like a reasonable desire to make sure students get a solid overview of American history before they start delving into specialties.  The overview I'm picturing would of course include the experiences of large minority groups, women's rights, etc - you can't discuss the amendments to the Constitution, for example, without addressing it. 

 Because I generally agree with the idea, I don't get any coded language race-baiting vibe from Sen. Patrick's FB post, though I suspect people on both the left and right do.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@observist I just spent a little time reviewing the undergrad history requirements at UT and like one of the other commenters here I come away with mixed feelings. 

The principal problem is the lack of a requrement for a good American history survey course. (Two would be better.) In fact, American history is the  necessary context for any of the other more specialized courses, including ethnic histories or Texas history, for which Mexican history might also be a useful introduction. The real solution here is to thoroughly integrate Latino, black, and women studies into a regular American history course. But I kind of doubt that would pass muster with Sen. Patrick, who seems to have something else in mind.

I might also argue that a survey of Euopean Civ. should precede or accompany the American history course. But then, I'm the product of an old-fashioned liberal arts curriculum and that tradition is just about dead on big state university campuses.

Given my own education, a specialized course  or two in ethnic or minority history would have been very useful and enlightening.  I had to ply catch-up all through the 1960s and 70s.

I did encounter profesors who taught their own marrow little hobby-horse curses, but that was later, in graduate school. Taught right, a  student  could learn a lot about America in an upper-level oourse on, say, Scandinavian influence on the Upper Midwest or culture of the U.S.-Mexican frontier or women and labor unions in the early 20th century. Wish they'd offered them when  I was in college.

In general, Sen. Patrick's proposed law would solve none of he problems he cites and probably make most of them worse.   


bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@observist I'm not at  all sure that is happening, holman, but if you have evidence to the contrary, I'd love to see it.

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