Texas: Another Battle Brewing over Textbooks!

Texas Textbooks

Dear Commons Community,

It is that time of the season when the Texas State Board of Education will deliberate and vote to adopt new textbooks for its K-12 schools. As in the past, controversy dominates the process mainly because a number of educators contend that the books contain material that represent conservative Christian values.  The Huffington Post reports on several of this year’s points of contention:

“New social studies books, on which the Texas State Board of Education is set to vote in November, promote pro-Christian religious and conservative political biases, according to a report released Wednesday from the nonprofit Texas Freedom Network Education Fund. History scholars argue in the report that a number of the books under consideration contain misleading information on topics like America’s founding and world religions.

The textbooks on American government, U.S. and world history, and religion in world history and geography were submitted by publishers including Pearson Education, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and McGraw-Hill Education. They were designed to fit Texas’ curriculum standards for history, which some critics have charged contain their own conservative biases.

Ten scholars, including professors from Southern Methodist University and doctoral students from the University of Texas at Austin, were contracted by the Texas Freedom Network to review the textbooks. While the experts praised some of the books for navigating the state standards in a fair way, they criticized others for capitulating to political concerns and disregarding evidence.

“In all fairness, it’s clear that the publishers struggled with these flawed standards and still managed to do a good job in some areas,” said Kathy Miller, president of the TFN Education Fund, in a statement. “On the other hand, a number of textbook passages essentially reflect the ideological beliefs of politicians on the state board rather than sound scholarship and factual history.”

Emile Lester, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington, took issue with much of the content he saw in the U.S. government textbooks. “The [State Board of Education] and these textbooks have collaborated to make students’ knowledge of American history a casualty of the culture wars,” he wrote in the report.

Lester specifically criticized a proposed Pearson textbook for “a treatment of affirmative action [that] verges on the offensive.” He mentioned two cartoons (see below) in which space aliens discuss affirmative action. In a call with reporters on Wednesday, he said those cartoons “imply that recipients of affirmative action … are un-American.”

This is another fine example of politicians undermining public education in this country?



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