College of Liberal Arts

Texas IP Fellows Hosts Debate on Texas Curriculum Reform

Wednesday Apr 7, 2010 3:00 PM | ACE Building, AVAYA Auditorium, room 2.302

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Two distinguished professors at The University of Texas at Austin will weigh in on curriculum reform in Texas public schools at a debate hosted by the Texas Interdisciplinary Plan Fellows.

In a 10-to-5 vote on March 12, Texas' State Board of Education gave preliminary approval to new social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools. Supporters argue the proposed curriculum will correct what they see as a liberal bias. The board's critics state that many of the changes are politically driven and factually wrong. Many claim the revisions are part of a "culture war" waged by religious conservatives on the 15-member board.

Dan Bonevac, professor of philosophy, and Lorenzo Sadun, professor of mathematics, will debate whether the proposed curriculum changes are reasonable. They will address a wide range of issues related to the controversial changes, including:

  • The exclusion of Thomas Jefferson from a list of writers influencing political revolutions from 1750 to the present
  • Questioning of the founding fathers' commitment to a secular government
  • Revamped K-12 textbooks reflecting conservative values

Bonevac will take the affirmative position, backing the changes. Sadun will oppose them. Joy Alvarado, a member of the Texas IP Fellows Student Leadership Panel, will moderate the debate.

The new curriculum standards will affect what material appears in the state's new textbooks. Because Texas is one of the country's largest textbook markets, changes made to the state's textbooks are often adopted by other states. On May 21 the board will take final action on the standards.

This is the third debate in a series called the Texas Chautauquas -- named after the freewheeling educational camps popular a century ago -- hosted by Texas IP Fellows. The Texas IP program allows Liberal Arts and Natural Science majors to design interdisciplinary minors around topics of personal interest.

The event is free and open to the public.

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