New Book Credits CHTL Resources

Politics and the History Curriculum
The Struggle over Standards in Texas and the Nation
Edited By Keith A. Erekson


“What’s the matter with Texas? Outsiders too often dismiss it as an overgrown and ignorant child, shrouded in right-wing politics and fundamentalist religion. But that view is itself a gross caricature, as this close study of history and myth-making in Texas demonstrates. Rooting their story firmly in the social and political history of the Lone Star State, Keith A. Erekson and his colleagues bust a few big myths themselves. Read this book if you want to understand why Texans continue to contest their shared past, and why the rest of us should stop condescending to them.” – Jonathan Zimmerman, professor of Education and History, New York University

“In these behind-the-scene essays, history educators and all citizens interested in history education will find chilling accounts of how the conservative Christian right played power politics to ensure that young Texans learn a largely white-washed U.S. history while remaining uneducated about world history. The essays in this important book give voice to teachers and history professors who were steamrollered by the Texas Board of Education.” – Gary Nash, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, UCLA; Director, National Center for History in the Schools

View more Praise about this book



The politicians and pastors who revised the Texas social studies standards made national and international headlines. However, much of that coverage was sensational and squeezed the process into a narrow ‘culture war’ storyline. Politics and the History Curriculum sets the debate over the Texas standards within a broader context by exploring the tangled and powerful mixture of politics, religion, media, and education. This volume provides a clear analysis of what happened and why, along with sensible recommendations for teachers and policy makers


Learn more about this book

ISBN: 978-1-137-00893-0 || $85.00 hc || Available June 2012

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Center Featured in UTEP Magazine

“History in the Making”

By Laura L. Acosta

Source: UTEP Magazine (Fall 2011), p. 36.
See in Magazine View | PDF (opens slowly)

The Center for History Teaching and Learning (CHTL) at The University of Texas at El Paso is preparing teachers to help their students better understand the lessons of the past.

Established in 2009 by the University’s history department and directed by Keith A. Erekson, Ph.D., assistant professor of history, the CHTL promotes scholarly teaching among the department’s faculty, supports teacher education for the department’s students, and provides professional development opportunities for teachers.

“We want to improve our own teaching, we want to prepare future teachers and we want to reach out to teachers in the community,” Erekson said.

The center offers lesson plans and other resources for current and future teachers on its website, It also sponsors workshops and
summer institutes.

In summer 2011, the CHTL partnered with Humanities Texas to host a four-day teacher institute at UTEP that introduced middle school and high school U.S. history instructors to new ways of teaching their subject from the Reconstruction era to today.

Another of the center’s major projects is, a website created by Erekson and his students in 2009 to monitor the progress of the Texas State Board of Education as it revised the state’s social studies standards.

The site attracted national and international media attention from outlets including MSNBC, the BBC, Danish Public Television, Education Week and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

“What we really wanted to do was just provide awareness, but it turned out that the whole world wanted to be aware of this story,” Erekson said.

Erekson is writing a book about his experiences with TEKSWatch, which he expects will be published in 2012. With the new social studies standards being implemented in fall 2011, the CHTL’s focus has shifted to helping teachers master the topics in the updated curriculum, which include religion and the founding fathers, conservatives in the 1980s, and the role of the Federal Reserve.

Kelley Akins, who is pursuing her master’s degree in history, has been involved with the center since 2009. She said it has provided her with a wealth of information to take into the classroom.

“It is a forum for teachers,” she said. “It is helping us become the best teachers we can be by taking these standards into the classroom and showing us how to make sure that our students are leaving with a wealth of historical knowledge.”

TEKSWatch Update: State Legislature Considers Expert Requirement

The future of the Texas social studies standards (TEKS) is under consideration today in meetings of the Texas House Higher Education Committee and Senate Higher Education Committee. Legislators are considering two companion bills–HB 3263 by state Rep. Mark Strama (D-Austin) and SB 1348 by state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio)–that would create review teams composed of qualified scholars to review proposed curriculum changes before the State Board of Education can vote their final approval. The House meeting should begin around 2:00 p.m. and will be streamed live online.

TEKSWatch Update: Continuing Criticism

1. Though the final draft of the Texas social studies standards was established in August 2010, critics continue to press for revision in the months leading up to August 2011 when the standards will officially take effect in the state’s public schools. The NAACP and LULAC have filed claims on the basis of bias, discrimination, and the violation of constitutional and civil rights. The Fordham Institute rated the standards poorly and singled out their political bias. Some Republican state lawmakers are speaking out against the standards and the process that brought them about.

2. The TEKSWatch website continues to update information on the process. We are pleased to announce a new online archive of past TEKSWatch Updates. Interested persons may now also follow the site on Facebook or via RSS feed.

3. Of related interest . . . the state of Texas previously authorized the teaching of a “Bible Literacy” course in Texas public high schools, either as an elective social studies or English course. A new bill before the state legislature proposes to authorize such a course at the middle school level and to remove the need for any credentials on the part of the teacher. Find out more at the Bible Literacy page hosted by the Center for History Teaching & Learning.

TEKSWatch Update: Muslims, Analysis, and Impact

1. SBOE Passes Resolution on Religion in Textbooks (pro-Christian, anti-Muslim) – see the full text of the resolution, learn about its origins, and peruse a list of media coverage.

2. Analysts are now weighing in on the final draft of the standards – one finds them not so bad, the ACLU of Texas alleges the SBOE abused its power, and Jewish groups debate amongst themselves.

3. What impact will the standards have? A public opinion poll registers concern, California’s governor vetoes a bill against adopting Texas materials, Maryland vows no Texas influence there, and finally one Texas state legislator speaks out.

4. Texans begin to look ahead to the textbooks that will be adopted based on the new standards. Some of the early considerations include how the state will pay for the books, Texas’s role in the national textbook market, and the role of technology.

5. Review resources for teaching about the process.

Find the latest at TEKSWatch.

Announcement: New Texas State Board Controversy

Click here to view an article with the latest controversy in regards Social Studies standards.

Announcement: Public Forum on the Texas State Board of Education

The League of Women Voters of El Paso is having a public forum that will focus on the Texas State Board of Education’s policy, influence and direction. Joining for the discussion will be Rene Nuñez (D) and Carlos “Charlie” Garza (R) (candidates for TX State Board of Education District 1), Senator Eliot Shapleigh, Alfredo Borrego (EPISD board member), Dr. James C. Vasquez (Executive Director Region 19), and Dr. Julio Noboa (Assistant Professor of Social Studies at UTEP). The forum will be Thursday, September 30, 2010 at El Paso Garden Center, 3105 Grant. Refreshments will be served from 6:00 PM to 6:30PM, followed by the discussion beginning at  6:30 PM. For more information contact Eurydice Saucedo at 915-433-1918 or by email at

Announcement: TEKSWatch Receives UTEP Star Award

UTEP President Diana Natalicio recognized TEKS Watch’s service to the university and community with the presentation of the UTEP Star Award. The huge impact of the project is a direct result the collective concern and volunteer work of Dr. Keith Erekson, Kelley Akins, Michelle Delgado, Cecilia De Jesus, Sandra Enriquez , Aaron Margolis, Leo Negrete, Lupe Saldana, Yvette Valdez,  Victoria Alicia García and Christina Belio.

TEKSWatch Update: Muslims, College Readiness, and Social Networking

Though the final version of the social studies and economics TEKS have been online for nearly a month, many of the issues raised throughout the process have not been resolved.

* The Texas State Board of Education is presently considering a resolution warning textbook publishers about “gross pro-Islamic, anti-Christian distortions.” See coverage in the Dallas Morning News, Washington Post, and El Paso Times.

* The Social Studies Collaborative of the College and Career Readiness Initiative (CCRI) will host a 2-day forum exploring how well the new TEKS address the state’s College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS). The event will be held in Lubbock, TX, on October 8 and 9. Logistical information about the program is online at

* The History News Network has teamed up with the politically-oriented social networking website VoteIQ to create a new feature on the Texas controversies. The feature contains facts, history, resources, and political fact checking.

Find the latest at TEKSWatch.

TEKSWatch Update: New Standards Released

In May the Texas State Board of Education adopted its controversial social studies standards (TEKS).

The SBOE has released the final draft of the updated TEKS. These will be implemented in Texas schools in the fall of 2011.

* Social Studies,

* Economics,

Find the latest at TEKSWatch.