The alternative curriculum puts more emphasis on handwriting, grammar, spelling and punctuation. It also includes a suggested reading list, a contentious point among many educators, Bradley said. Texas is revising all of its curricula, the documents that spell out what children are taught.
Up against a tight April deadline for approving the new language arts curriculum, the state asked for help last fall from StandardsWork, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group.
Some board members were dissatisfied with a draft that the group submitted in January.
“I think everybody just groaned,” Bradley said.
He added that this alternative curriculum was nearly adopted in 1997, when conservatives were unhappy with the TEA’s version. There was little they could do then, Bradley said, because then-Gov. George W. Bush and his political director, Karl Rove, “pushed it through because we had to reform education in Texas.”
The principal author of the 1997 document is retired English teacher Donna Garner.
“We don’t need input from a person who retired many years ago and thinks this document that she submitted 10 years ago is still good enough today,” Berlanga said. “They are dictating what to read. They are not even saying, ‘These are some examples.’ They are saying, ‘This is what you are going to read to them.'”