On March 12th, after reviewing an estimated 300 amendments during the State Board of Education (SBOE) meetings in both the January and March meetings, the SBOE, on a 10-5 vote, gave preliminary approval to new social studies curriculum standards that will be used in the Texas public schools.

The wide-ranging debate over what should be taught in history classes covered everything from non-controversial items to heavily discussed topics such as how the history of the Alamo should be taught and whether hip hop should be discussed in classrooms. (All those who died at the Alamo will be discussed in seventh grade Texas history classes. Hip hop will not be part of the official curriculum standards.)

A document containing the extensive revisions will be posted on the Texas Education Agency website and posted in the Texas register by mid-April. Once posted, the official 30-day public comment period will begin. At that time, comments with suggested changes to the document can be sent to rules@tea.state.tx.us.

The SBOE will then consider additional updates and final adoption at its May meeting. The new standards will replace Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills developed and adopted in 1997.

Also passed on the SBOE March agenda was the second reading and final adoption of proposed revisions to 19 TAC Chapter 110, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for English Language Arts and Reading, Subchapter C, High School. The proposed revisions recommend an implementation date of the 2011-2012 school year for the revised English language arts high school electives Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).

During the March meeting, the SBOE also approved a new accountability system for educator preparation programs, created as a result of Senate Bill 174. Under this system, each teacher training program will receive one of the following ratings: Accredited, Accredited-Warned, Accredited-Probation, and Not Accredited-Revoked or not rated. The first ratings will be issued in the spring of 2012, based on the 2010-2011 academic year.

The SBOE further took up an agenda item relating to the Permanent School Fund (PSF). The SBOE, which oversees the multi-billion dollar Permanent School Fund, agreed to make its first ever real estate purchases.

The SBOE agreed to enter into agreements with Mesa West Real Estate Income Fund II, L.P. and Invesco Mortgage Recovery Fund and allow each to invest $40 million in real estate.

The SBOE did postpone the following two agenda items until their May meeting:

ü  Proclamation 2012 of the State Board of Education Advertising for Bids on Instructional Materials in Science

ü  Proposed Amendment to 19 TAC Chapter 33, Statement of Investment Objectives, Policies, and Guidelines of the Texas Permanent School Fund, §33.5, Code of Ethics (Second Reading and Final Adoption)