A panel of “experts” hired by the Texas Board of Education to review social studies textbooks wants your children to learn all about Jesus. I have a rant about this on the other blog.
I know I’ve gone on about textbooks in the past, but it bears repeating that a handful of political appointees in a few large states pretty much dictate what goes into textbooks used in America’s public schools. This is because in many states textbooks have to be approved by adoption committees appointed by the governor before a textbook can be used in that state’s public schools. Because sales in the most populous states are critical to textbook publishers, textbooks are more or less crafted to please the adoption committees of those states.
Although publishers do crank out special state editions that are unique to each adoption state, the practice is to make all textbooks as uniform as possible to hold down production costs. This means the textbooks are written in a way to get them approved by as many state adoption committees as possible. State-specific demands are accommodated on the printing press with a black plate change for selected signatures.
The six-member panel reviewing Texas social studies texts includes an evangelical minister and the president of a Christian heritage advocacy group, whatever that is. They are recommending that social studies texts be generously infused with the significance of Christianity in American history, even when it wasn’t especially significant.
To make room for Jesus, panelists want to delete biographies of prominent civil rights leaders and the contributions of non-white Americans such as Thurgood Marshall. Just plain weirdly, biographies of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Stephen F. Austin have been removed from the early grades.
Oh, and where textbooks talk about “democratic” values, they want that changed to “republican” values. Politicized, much?
The panel’s recommendations will not necessarily be followed. But if they are, you can expect Thurgood Marshall to disappear from textbooks used everywhere — unless the California textbook adoption committee mandates that Thurgood Marshall be included.
Having watched this nonsense for years, I am certain the nation’s textbooks would improve considerably — and be much less expensive to publish — if the adoption committees were dissolved and teachers allowed to choose whatever textbooks they want to teach from.