Helen Keller & Hillary Clinton Erased From Texas Curriculum

Alicia Duarte, Staff Writer

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Helen Keller and Hillary Clinton are two very powerful and influential women. Their names should sound familiar because the state of California requires these two figures to be in our school curriculum. However, the Texas Board of Education does not share the same sentiment.

As of this past September, Keller and Clinton will not longer be part of the mandatory curriculum in Texas. Hillary Clinton was the first woman to ever become a presidential nominee for a major political party. Equally important, Helen Keller despite being blind, deaf, and mute became an activist and author.

“I first learned about Helen Keller in 9th grade when we watched a film about her in ASL. She is one of the most famous deaf/blind people in the world as well as a famous author. People can look up to her especially deaf/blind people who have to use tactile signing like her teacher used for her and so she’s an important role model for them,” said Sierra Deaver (‘21).

This verdict was reached in order to condense the curriculum and make it more effective. The Texas Board of Education held their preliminary vote in mid September. The final vote will be held in November, where the decision will either be finalized or amended.

Even if the decision is finalized, however, teachers will still have the freedom to talk about these figures. The textbooks will remain the same for now, but when the textbooks are re-written, they will be based off the current curriculum.

This decision will affect more than just Texas state children; essentially, because Texas is such a large state, companies will choose to accommodate their curriculum standard which in turn will affect other states.

“Texas is such a large state it will definitely affect other states, because textbook makers may not want to make multiple versions of their textbooks which means they may just make a textbook that fits Texas and then other states end up having to buy that version of the textbook,” said Mr. Murphy, Amador history teacher.

Representatives of Texas have since spoken up about the decision. These statements demonstrate why this topic is so controversial. People in Texas and across the United States have differing ideas about what material should be in public school curriculum. Donna Bahorich, chairperson of the Texas State Board of Education, said “Texas simply has too many learning standards, required to be taught and assessed on state assessments, for educators to cover in a year.” Bahorich also wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post explaining her views.

Democratic Texas state legislator Chris Turner holds a opposing view. He tweeted, “If Helen Keller was an important historical figure when I was in school (and she was), then she still is today, Hillary Clinton is the 1st and only woman to be the presidential nominee of a major party in U.S. history. Enough said.”

It is often said that children are the future. Consequently, what students learn is imperative to how they grow and one day control the country. If the curriculum is catered to specific  individuals’ idea of what should be taught, it will negatively impact our future because those children will grow up with limited knowledge and narrow mind.

“I would hope that the teachers of Texas would [continue to teach about Keller and Clinton] and just because they have a textbook that didn’t mention Helen Keller that they would still talk about Helen Keller and what she represents and why she’s important or Hillary Clinton even if they don’t like her politics, she represents more than just her politics,” said Mr. Murphy.

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