Texas Text Books May Be As Bad As Home School Text Books

Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Evolution in TexasImage by Colin Purrington via Flickr
Yesterday, I posted about home school text books and the removing of evolution. Today we have Texas text books, of course, Texas text book controversy is not new. Despite the recent Texas BoE elections there is still a lot to worry about with Texas text books. Because Texas is the largest purchaser of text books many states must purchase what Texas specifies for their text books or pay dearly to have their own written.

On one side we have to fight the creep of religion into public education and now we have to fight the re-writing of history and the white-washing of text books.

Texas School District Accused of Trying to Re-Write History
From My Fox Phoenix
Published : Monday, 08 Mar 2010, 7:47 AM MST

AUSTIN, TX - Student textbooks are making news and there's a heated debate underway after one school district is accused of trying to re-write history.

It's a story you're going to be hearing about a lot more in the coming days from Texas.

For much of the past year, the Texas State Board of Education has been discussing changes to the way the state teaches history - they basically plan to re-write social studies textbooks.

So why should people in Arizona care about what's happening in Texas?

The debate over which historical figures should be included in the social studies curriculum will likely impact Arizona because Texas is the single largest textbook purchaser in America.  Changes to its curriculum will probably affect the rest of the nation, because most states follow Texas' lead and purchase the same books.  It's becoming a heated issue because someone has to pick and choose what goes in and what doesn't.

The process that put these textbooks in the classroom started in the late 1990s.  A re-write is underway, which is why protestors vow to continue gathering at school board meetings in Austin, Texas.
Members of the Texas Freedom Network are on a mission to protect the way the theory of evolution is written in textbooks and they're fighting what they now believe is an attempt to re-write history with an Evangelical Christian slant.

"I'm concerned about the efforts to simplify, sanitize and sanctify the subjective content of these standards."  said Williamette University's Steve Green.

Organizers accused some Republican appointees of trying to slip in their Christian beliefs.

"David Barton, one of the reviewers, called for the circullium to teach students that George Washington was saved from death in battle by devine intervention or by a miracle."  said Kathy Miller of the Texas Freedom Network.

That may have been suggested, but nothing like it has been drafted.  However, conservative groups have their own list of controversial proposals.

"So what they support is a review committee that took out Independence Day, a review committee that took out Veterans Day, A review Committee that took out Christmas .... Rosh Hashana, Neil Armstrong and Albert Einstein."  said Jonathan Saenz of the Free Market Foundation.

For school board members, this discussion, which happens every ten years, is anything but textbook.

"The lobbying effort is not just limited to the secular and patriotic spin there is also a cultural influence going on."

Latino community advocates are also joining into the fight.  There are those who fear new history books will leave out or gloss over individuals like labor activist Cesar Chavez.

During the last meeting, one board member even surrounded herself with portraits of Hispanics she believes are worthy to make it in print.  But with so much history to consider, board members are hard pressed to get everything into the textbooks.

On Wednesday, a vote on a final draft will happen, then the final vote on the new standards will be held in May.  If approved, school books on U.S. history, world history, U.S. government, economics, pyschology and sociology would have to be re-written to reflect the new changes.
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