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why is the board "streamlining" the TEKS?
Well, the official reason is pretty basic. The curriculum requirements are simply being shortened, Texas Education Agency spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe said in an email.
"There has been a concern that the curriculum standards for all the core subjects are too long. So the board is appointing review committees that will examine the TEKS to see if some standards can be eliminated or combined with others," she told us.
However, the real reason that the State Board of Education is taking another look at the curriculum requirements for all the core subjects is a little more complicated.
It goes back to the board's epic culture wars in 2009 and 2010 over the science and social studies curricula, respectively. Back in 2009, the state's science curriculum was the subject of a fierce battle between those on the board who were pushing to include creationism as a scientific explanation of how humans came to be here versus those who were fighting to make sure the board didn't toss out Darwinian evolution altogether.
The creationists succeeded in making it a requirement to mention the Bible-centric view of how people came to be on the Earth, but only to a point. Textbook publishers opted to skip the TEKS requirements that would have booted basic tenets of evolution out of the science textbooks.
"The publishers ignored that stuff and published books with real science," says Dan Quinn, a spokesman for the Texas Freedom Network, a grassroots organization that has been focused on the board's approach to textbooks for years.
Teachers have had to find materials outside of the textbooks to teach the stuff not included in the textbooks.
So the textbooks didn't end up reflecting the full extent of the science curriculum, while at the same time the curriculum itself quickly became a problem. The end result of all the bickering on the board was a set of science TEKS so long, detailed and unwieldy that teachers had trouble getting through the curriculum over the course of the school year.