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'They're trying to whitewash history': State Board of Education rejects changing slavery to 'involuntary relocation'

The State Board of Education says it's committed to the truth and rejected the proposal calling it "unacceptable".

HOUSTON — Major curriculum changes are soon coming to Texas classrooms and one of the proposals is already facing major backlash. 

A working group proposed using the term "involuntary relocation" instead of slavery when teaching 2nd graders. 

The State Board of Education, who will vote on the new curriculum, immediately sent the proposal back calling it completely "unacceptable."

"It seems like in Texas we're going backwards instead of forwards," said Jackie Anderson, President of the Houston Federation of Teachers

The teacher's union in Houston is among the loudest voices speaking out against the latest effort to use the term "involuntary relocation" referring to slavery. 

"They are trying again to whitewash history," said Anderson. "The facts are the facts. Slavery is slavery. You can't change what happened or the true meaning by giving it another name as 'involuntary relocation'."

RELATED: State education board members push back on proposal to use “involuntary relocation” to describe slavery

The Texas Tribune first reported the move Thursday. The working group was tasked with adding the topic of slavery to 2nd grade curriculum. Right now, slavery isn't part of the teaching materials for that grade level. 

The group is bound by SB3, a law that does not allow slavery to be taught as the true founding of the U.S.

"Involuntary relocation" is what the group proposed. 

"I was thinking where are these educators coming from," said Anderson. "Who are they to even think that that was okay?"

The State Board of Education is the entity with final say on curriculum changes. They released this updated statement in response: 

"There was not and is not a proposal from the State Board of Education that would in any way aim to hide the truth from Texas second graders about slavery. The statements circulating on social media to the contrary are patently false. Here are the facts: at our most recent meeting, the SBOE was presented with an initial draft of 2nd Grade Social Studies standards from a review committee that included a section title: 'Enslaved Peoples in America'. While the proposed standards clearly described enslaved peoples in colonial times, the draft description 'involuntary relocation' for African peoples who were sold into slavery did not paint a clear or full picture. As a result, the SBOE voted unanimously to send the language back to be reworked. This board is committed to the truth, which includes accurate descriptions of historical events. Our state's curriculum will not downplay the role of slavery in American history."

RELATED: Watch full KHOU 11 presentation of 'Juneteenth 1865-2022: The Pursuit of Economic Equality'

"Involuntary relocation is not what happened in slavery," said Anderson. "The truth needs to be taught."

In response to the backlash, the Texas Education Agency told KHOU 11 News in part: "Any assertion that the SBOE is considering downplaying the role of slavery in American history is completely inaccurate."

Anderson says teachers she's spoken with will not teach 'involuntary relocation'. She says the group needs to start over and try again. 

"They need to give children credit for being resilient, strong people and not trying to sway what has happened," she said. 

The State Board of Education is expected to vote on a final curriculum in November. 

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