US & Canada

Texas schools to get controversial syllabus

Education officials in the US state of Texas have adopted new guidelines to the school curriculum, which critics say will politicise teaching.

The changes include teaching that the UN could be a threat to American freedom, and that the Founding Fathers may not have intended a complete separation of church and state.

Critics say the changes are ideological and distort history.

However, proponents argue they are redressing a liberal bias in education.

Analysts say Texas, with five million schoolchildren, wields substantial influence on school curriculums across the US.

The BBC's Rajesh Mirchandani in Los Angeles says publishers of textbooks used nationally often print what Texas wants to teach.

Jefferson out

Students in Texas will now be taught the benefits of US free-market economics and how government taxation can harm economic progress.

They will study how American ideals benefit the world but organisations such as the UN could be a threat to personal freedom.

And Thomas Jefferson has been dropped from a list of enlightenment thinkers in the world-history curriculum, despite being one of the Founding Fathers who is credited with developing the idea that church and state should be separate.

The doctrine has become a cornerstone of US government, but some religious groups and some members of the Texas Education Board disagree, our correspondent says.

The board, which is dominated by Christian conservatives, voted nine-to-five in favour of adopting the new curriculum for both primary and secondary schools.

But during the discussions some of the most controversial ideas were dropped - including a proposal to refer to the slave trade as the "Atlantic triangular trade".

Opponents of the changes worry that textbooks sold in other states will be written to comply with the new Texas standards, meaning that the alterations could have an impact on curriculums nationwide.

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