AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill on Monday that establishes "the 1836 Project" to promote "patriotic education" and increase awareness of Texas values.
HB 2497, filed by Rep. Tan Parker (R-District 63), creates the Texas 1836 Project, a nine-person advisory committee that will serve two-year terms to promote and expand education including "the presentation of the history of the State's founding and foundational principles, examination of how Texas has grown closer to those principles throughout its history and explanation of why commitment to those principles is beneficial and justified."
According to the bill, the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker each would appoint three members, and the governor would appoint one member as the presiding officer to convene regular meetings and coordinate and direct project activities.
"To keep Texas the best state in the nation, we can never forget WHY our state is so exceptional," Abbott tweeted as he signed the bill into law.
The duties of the 1836 Project include:
- Increasing awareness on the following topics:
- Texas history, including the indigenous peoples of the state, the state's Spanish and Mexican heritage, Tejanos, the Texas War for Independence, annexation of Texas by the U.S. and Juneteenth;
- The founding documents and founders of the state
- State civics
- Advising the governor on the core principles of the founding of Texas and how those principles further enrich the lives of its residents
- Facilitating the development and implementation of the Gubernatorial 1836 Award to recognize student knowledge of Texas Independence
- Advising state agencies with regard to their efforts to ensure patriotic education was provided to the public at state parks, battlefields, monuments, museums, installations, landmarks, cemeteries and other places important to the Texas War for Independence and founding of the state
- Facilitating, advising on and promoting other activities to support public knowledge of and patriotic education on the Texas War for Independence and founding of Texas.
In Abbott's video message on Twitter, he says any "newcomer to Texas" who gets a driver's license will also get a pamphlet that "outlines all of Texas' rich history as well as the principles that make Texas ... Texas."
The Texas Education Agency is required to provide funding and administrative support for the 1836 Project, including for pamphlets distributed by the Texas Department of Public Safety to "new" Texans getting a driver's license. The bill is estimated to cost nearly $2.3 million through the biennium ending Aug. 31, 2023.
Critics of the bill say it is an unnecessary and costly effort to put forth the promotion of Texas history and values because it is a curriculum already studied in public schooling from grades 4 to 7.
Supporters of the bill say the bill also benefits those who have moved to Texas from other states and do not know the details of Texas history.
Critics of the bill also say that because the nine members are appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker, the committee could include members who all came from one political party and policy perspective.
HB 2497 will go into effect on Sept. 1, 2021.
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