The Texas State Board of Education will conduct public hearings this week to take up consideration of a proposal to strip the words “all the heroic defenders who gave their lives there” from Texas history textbooks. The proposal is drawing sharp reactions including from Governor Greg Abbott and General Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush who oversees the iconic Texas monument.
The Texas State Board of Education meets Tuesday to discuss a proposal from the State Board of Education Social Studies TEKS Streamlining Work Group, an advisory board to the agency, that would remove what it calls “value-charged” words from Texas history textbooks, Texas Monthly reported.
The magazine reports that the group of educators and historians voted in August to bring the proposal to the State Board of Education that would impact the seventh-grade curriculum.
Texas Monthly reports that the group proposes to take the paragraph that currently reads:
explain the issues surrounding significant events of the Texas Revolution, including the Battle of Gonzales, William B. Travis’s letter “To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World,” the siege of the Alamo and all the heroic defenders who gave their lives there, the Constitutional Convention of 1836, Fannin’s surrender at Goliad, and the Battle of San Jacinto.
And change it to:
explain the issues surrounding significant events of the Texas Revolution, including the Battle of Gonzales, the siege of the Alamo, the Constitutional Convention of 1836, Fannin’s surrender at Goliad, and the Battle of San Jacinto and Treaties of Velasco.
In addition to stripping the word “heroic,” the committee also omits the reference to Lt. Colonel William B. Travis’ “Victory or Death” letter sent to the people of Texas from the Alamo during the siege of the Alamo by the Mexican army. “There are fewer than 250 words in that letter, but they go to the heart of what Texans think about themselves and about this state,” Texas Monthly wrote.
Following is the text of Colonel Travis’ Victory or Death letter:
To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World:
Fellow citizens & compatriots—I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna—I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken—I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch—The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country—Victory or Death.
William Barret Travis
Lt. Col. comdt
P.S. The Lord is on our side—When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn—We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.
FOX26 Houston reported responses from Governor Abbott and Commissioner Bush:
Stop political correctness in our schools. Of course Texas schoolchildren should be taught that Alamo defenders were ‘Heroic’! I fully expect the State Board of Education to agree. Contact your SBOE Member to complain. @TXSBOE #txlege #tcot https://t.co/Ph9oBoBzKF
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) September 6, 2018
This politically correct nonsense is why I’ll always fight to honor the Alamo defenders’ sacrifice. His letter & the defenders’ actions must remain at the very core of TX history teaching. This is not debatable to me. https://t.co/4QADkAIZIt
— George P. Bush (@georgepbush) September 6, 2018
Sunday morning, FOX26’s What’s Your Point with Greg Groogan’s panel took on the issue. Texas Hispanic activist and educator Tony Diaz and Thurgood Marshall School of Law Professor Craig Jackson squared off with Breitbart Texas’s Associate Editor Bob Price, former congressional candidate Rick Walker, and former Kemah Mayor Bill King:
“I’m really glad that Governor Abbott brought this to our attention,” Diaz began in defense of the recommendation. “We’re arguing about an adjective. I get it — if you’re going to be arguing about that adjective in social studies which is supposed to be facts and dates, well then let’s add adjectives to all the areas especially since we have a president that said that [Senator] McCain was not heroic since he got caught. And the folks in the Alamo by that criteria got caught.”
“Maybe we should give children the facts and figures of every era,” Diaz concluded, “and give them the knowledge to come up with their own assessment.”
Price responded, “This is a horrific statement by the Texas education authorities to try and strip the word ‘heroic’ from the people at the Alamo — the people that gave up their lives to stand up to tyranny, to stand up to a dictator. That should not be messed with at all. That’s [the Alamo] a shrine in Texas history — they are heroes.”
Walker added, “I have three little kids in public school. The purpose of teaching Texas history in Texas public schools is to create an ethos among the next generation — to have a little bit of ‘Texas swagger,’ and I want this word to stay in and it needs to stay.”
Professor Jackson took a stand in direct opposition to the “heroic” nature of those fighting on behalf of Texas at the Alamo.
“A lot of people in the state don’t view the ‘heroes of the Alamo’ as ‘heroic,'” Jackson began. “And remember, they were fighting, among other things, to maintain slavery.”
King wrapped up the discussion, saying, “I promise you, the number of people that don’t think they were heroic is a very tiny minority. This is absurd, period, end of story.”
What will likely be a heated discussion at the Texas Board of Education hearing begins on Tuesday morning at 9 a.m., FOX26 reported. The hearing will be held in room 1-104 of the Travis Building at 1701 Nort Congress, Austin, Texas. Those wishing to speak for, on, or against the issue must register online in advance of the hearing. Speakers will be given two minutes each to make their point.