For the first time next year, Texas students will learn that slavery was the primary cause of the Civil War. The Texas Board of Education voted Friday to change public school curriculum so that slavery, which was previously listed as the third most influential factor, will now be taught first, ahead of sectionalism and states’ rights. The change will go into effect in August 2019 for middle and high school students and in 2020 for elementary schoolers.
It’s a change that’s been in the making since September when Democrats first proposed listing slavery as the only cause of the Civil War. Republicans disagreed, stating “each state had differences and made individual decisions as to whether or not to join into the conflict.” The new standards, which are a compromise between the two sides, will teach public school students “the central role of the expansion of slavery in causing sectionalism, disagreements over states’ rights, and the Civil War.”
The board’s sole African-American member, Democrat Lawrence Allen Jr., was one of the writers of the new curriculum. He said, “I don’t think we really have that as a consensus in our state. And so if we can’t drive it to a consensus in our state, we need to let our students look at it from all points of view.”
While the new curriculum only applies to the Lonestar State, Texas is known for setting a precedent for the rest of the country when it comes to education. Because of the state’s large size and population, it has one of the nation’s biggest textbook markets, meaning that changes made in the southern state’s curriculum tend to filter down to the rest of the U.S. While no other states have yet announced a decision to follow suit with the latest change, it’s too early to tell if the “Texas standard” will spread yet again.