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Boston Tea Party Was Act Of Terrorism? Texas Public Schools Teaching New History Lesson

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Some Texas parents are upset over a history lesson that depicts the Boston Tea Party as an act of terrorism.

The historical protest against taxation without representation will mark its 239th anniversary next month. But a report by The Blaze, a right-wing site started by Glenn Beck, reveals that as recently as this January, the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative included a lesson plan that portrays the Boston Tea Party as a non-patriotic act, instructing teachers to read a story to their students as a recent news report:

News report: New Act of Terrorism
A local militia, believed to be a terrorist organization, attacked the property of private citizens today at our nation’s busiest port. Although no one was injured in the attack, a large quantity of merchandise, considered to be valuable to its owners and loathsome to the perpetrators, was destroyed. The terrorists, dressed in disguise and apparently intoxicated, were able to escape into the night with the help of local citizens who harbor these fugitives and conceal their identities from the authorities. It is believed that the terrorist attack was a response to the policies enacted by the occupying country’s government. Even stronger policies are anticipated by the local citizens.

The lesson plan then asks teachers to ask students if the event in the news report meets the definition of a terrorist attack, and whether the act is "from a previous time in our history."

The lesson is a product of CSCOPE, a nonprofit offshoot of the Texas Education Service Centers of 20 media and "education service" centers established in 1965 across the state's school districts, playing "an integral role in the provision of necessary and essential services to school districts and charter schools in the implementation of school reform and school improvement." CSCOPE is reported to have received about $25 million in funding last year.

The Texas Education Service Centers have been charged with preparing the state's teachers to meet the state's new, more rigorous State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness standardized exams. The Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative -- the group in question -- was formed by 19 of the 20 centers.

The issue is igniting fury among parents and teachers upset with what they call the state's opaque methods of approving curriculum and lessons. It also echoes a similar battle two years ago, when two civil rights organizations sought federal review of the state's public education after state lawmakers passed curricular changes that the groups said "were made with the intention to discriminate."

The Texas State Board of Education had adopted a social studies and history curriculum that amended or watered down the teaching of the civil rights movement, religious freedoms, America's relationship with the United Nations and hundreds of other topics.

A report out last year by Keith Erekson, an assistant professor of history at The University of Texas at El Paso, says that Texas K-12 standards in history are inadequate, ineffective and "fail to meet the state's college readiness standards." The report notes that the Fordham Institute gave the state's history standards a "D" grade, calling it a "politicized distortion of history" that is "both unwieldy and troubling" while "offering misrepresentations at every turn."

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