Public testimony on the state's social studies curriculum has started here State Board of Education meeting. It's easy to tell from the banks of cameras and scribes, college students with bright yellow "Save Our History" t-shirts on and people from civil rights and conservative groups itching to testify.
Board president Gail Lowe, R-Lampases, just told the large crowd that they would only have two hours to give public testimony. That's an extension from the standard 30 minutes, but I suspect some in the crowd, many who traveled, will be irked. The first two speakers were state Reps. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, and Wayne Christian, R-Center, who spoke to the importance of maintaining references to the Judeo-Christian influences in the founding of the country and giving students a proud, patriotic view. Christian thanked the board for changing a reference to American "imperialism" to "expansionism." In the meantime, a coalition of civil rights groups has distributed a letter to the board chastising conservatives for minimizing the role of minority figures in expanding American rights.
Flynn called the board's work "one of the top news stories in the nation."
"Some try to say that Christianity, and most things that occurred in Texas and America before 19th century, were bad," Flynn said. "America is the greatest nation in world, and Texas is the greatest state in American. Our message to all: Don’t mess with Texas."
Christian spoke to the importance of imbuing students with patriotism. "We live in a day where it’s in question, at the national level, how we approach our reputation across the world," Christian said. "Some are starting to apologize for America across the world."
Just then, an audience member blurted: “Is this going to take up part of the two hours?”
A large group of UT-Austin students started clapping, prompting an irritated Lowe to chastise: "Refrain from the cheering or jeering, clapping or booing and maintain decorum."
Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.