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New Texas Texts: Slavery Was 'Side Issue' of Civil War

It was mainly states' rights that was war's impetus, per state education standards
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2015 4:57 PM CDT
New Texas Texts: Slavery Was 'Side Issue' of Civil War
A Civil War re-enactor holds the Confederate States of America flag as he stands with other re-enactors during a United Daughters of the Confederacy event in Winchester, Va., on June 6, 2015.   (Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star via AP)

About 5 million Texas schoolchildren will get their hands on brand-new social studies textbooks when school starts up again, the Houston Chronicle reports—textbooks that USA Today says are "misleading, racially prejudiced, and, at times, flat-out false." The beef with the new primers: They're in keeping with state education standards adopted in 2010 that gloss over slavery as the main impetus for the Civil War, instead placing it as a peripheral factor behind "sectionalism" and "states' rights," reports the Washington Post. Slavery was merely a "side issue to the Civil War," one member of the state's board of education said when the standards—which include Moses and Solomon as prime influencers in the founding of our country—were greenlit in 2010. Per the Post, the new standards "barely address racial segregation," and the state's guidelines for history instruction have zip on the Jim Crow laws or the Ku Klux Klan.

Many critics aren't on board with the new standards, revamped to correct what the board thought was a too-liberal stance on American history. Ex-Education Secretary Rod Paige tried to sway the board in 2010, saying, per the Texas Tribune, "I'm of the view that the history of slavery and civil rights are dominant elements of our history and have shaped who we are today. We may not like our history, but it's history, and it's important to us today." But his pleas seemed to have fallen on deaf ears, because the standards were pushed through with the states' rights angle. The Washington Post editorial board published its take on the matter Monday, writing that "by distorting history, Texas tells its students a dishonest and damaging story about the United States that prevents children from understanding the country today." (More Texas stories.)

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