The next generation of Texans may not care to “remember the Alamo” after a recent decision by the Texas State Board of Education.
The Battle of the Alamo, which occurred during the Texas Revolution of the 1830s, is one of the most famed military actions in Texas and American history.
Just a few hundred Alamo defenders, who hailed from numerous countries and all walks of life, held off a Mexican army, led by Gen. Santa Anna, of nearly 2,000 for hours before being overrun.
The brave actions of a few, patriotic men against incredible odds has been compared to the Battle of Thermopylae, in which a handful of Greek soldiers fought against a massive Persian army. In fact, a plaque saying as much sits on the wall of the fort today, which is located in the middle of downtown San Antonio.
But in June, an advisory group of educators concluded that calling the Alamo’s defenders “heroic” was a “value-charged word,” so the State Board of Education decided to remove this from the state’s seventh-grade curriculum.
The board recommended specifically removing classroom reference to a famous letter from Alamo commander William B. Travis, which galvanized Texans and Americans to the cause of Texas independence from Mexico.
On Twitter, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott blasted the move as out-of-control “political correctness.”
Stop political correctness in our schools. Of course Texas schoolchildren should be taught that Alamo defenders were ‘Heroic’! I fully expect the State Board of Education to agree. Contact your SBOE Member to complain. ?@TXSBOE? #txlege #tcot https://t.co/Ph9oBoBzKF
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) September 6, 2018
Land Commissioner George P. Bush also criticized the change and said that Travis’ letter must remain a “core” part of Texas history.
This politically correct nonsense is why I’ll always fight to honor the Alamo defenders’ sacrifice. His letter & the defenders’ actions must remain at the very core of TX history teaching. This is not debatable to me. https://t.co/4QADkAIZIt
— George P. Bush (@georgepbush) September 6, 2018
Travis’ stirring letter, written on Feb. 24, 1836, reads:
To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World—
Fellow Citizens & compatriots—
I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna—I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man—The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken—I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls—I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch—The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country—Victory or Death.
William Barrett Travis.
Lt. Col. comdt.
PS. The Lord is on our side—When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn—We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels and got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.
In just a few weeks, Travis and nearly all of the Alamo’s defenders were dead.
Among the illustrious group of slain warriors were David Crockett—a frontier folk hero who had served in the Tennessee Legislature—and James Bowie, another famed frontiersman who popularized the “Bowie knife.”
Their deaths were a rallying cry for Texans and galvanized supporters of Texas independence. Shortly thereafter, Texans defeated that same Mexican army at the Battle of San Jacinto, effectively securing their independence.
Texas joined the United States a decade later, and the story of the Alamo became an American one. The story has risen to prominence over the years as an example of extreme courage in the face of overwhelming odds—a trait we should hope many future generations of Americans would emulate.
It’s no wonder the move to strip the heroics and patriotism of this famed battle was met with anger and a deluge of animosity, as it should be, especially in light of other attempts to banish old heroes in Texas.
After intense scrutiny, the Texas State Board of Education indicated after a hearing on Tuesday that it might back off removing Travis’ letter from the curriculum.
One of the committee members, Stephen Cure, said it was not the committee’s intent to diminish the heroism of those who fought at the Alamo, according to LMT Online.
Cure said that under a revised standard, Texas schools would recognize “the heroism of diverse defenders who gave their lives.”
The board will announce its final decision about the curriculum in November.
However, regardless of how the Alamo issue plays out, the board’s action should be a wake-up call to the people of Texas that there need to be more options for their families and children than the one-size-fits-all public school system currently available to parents.
Despite its reputation as a deep-red state, Texas has lagged badly in creating private school choice options for parents. This is not just a Texas problem; this is a problem for many red states, which should theoretically have school choice-friendly legislatures and governors. But many have dropped the ball in making it a priority issue.
For the sake of future generations, this needs to change.
Not only do school choice programs allow parents to put their children in higher performing schools, but they allow them to move them into schools that reflect their beliefs.
Education is not merely about test scores and gearing up to get into top colleges. It’s also about civics and teaching young Americans to be citizens.
If Texas public schools don’t care to teach young Texans to remember the Alamo, then perhaps parents need the option to send their children to schools that will.
In a climate in which we are witnessing a concerted war on our history, where great men and high ideas are being stripped from public places—from Hollywood, media, and certainly academia—it is essential that young Americans have access to an education that will continue to instill patriotism.
Without this, we risk losing the values that make us the land of the free and the home of the brave.