Texas and Textbooks

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.

20 thoughts on “Texas and Textbooks

  1. Why teach history/social studies at all? Literature? Science? Math? Let’s just teach the Bible. And only to boys. Girls must stay home and prepare to be baby-machines. They will be home-schooled on the Bible. Less temptation for the boys since there will be no girls in class. And no more self-esteem issues anymore as far as low grades. Every male student is guaranteed %100 on every test because the answer will be “‘Cause Jesus said!”

    I’ve been reading about this for a while, too, maha. And I’m just speachless at the gross stupidity of it all. We’ve allowed a small, though vocal, minority to hijack our educational system. And who is at fault? Cowardly politicians and administrators who don’t know when to say, “Stop! Enough already! NO!!!”
    God help this country if this goes through. Something tells me She won’t…

  2. This stuff about removing “democratic” for “republic” is such rubbish it makes me quite angry. This is all from the demigod Rush Limbaugh who always insists the U.S. is not a “democracy” but a “republic,” the difference being that in a republic things move much slower than the parliamentary democracies of the world. In the U.S. we have separate and equal powers; and a parliamentary majority party have fewer restrictions to implement whatever it is the majority party ran on! Now this distinction may be crucial to understanding distinctions of each democratic system however it does not mean we do not live in a “democracy,” we just don’t live in a parliamentary system.

    The real point is these trolls try to make America seem to be different in any way they possibly can. We are supposedly superior to those “democratic” system. Therefore they can further demigod democratic systems by claiming they are full of socialist parties and all sorts of other terrible and godless things. Its complete crap! Where do we live? I just don’t understand this place anymore.

  3. Gulag you are right on and quite funny, thanks for being there for me.

  4. Crazy About UP,
    You and the others on this site are what’s kept me sane for the last few years. Especially in the past 8+ months of being unemployed.

  5. Crazy About UP – it isn’t even that deep. “Democratic” is to be associated with anything evil and despised; “Republic” and “Republican” is to be associated with everything that’s good. Idiocracy, here we come.

  6. If Texas were to secede as is sometimes promised, the average IQ of the remaining U.S. would increase significantly. Sorry, Austin, it’s just a painful fact.

    It could style itself “The Great Sovereign and Idiotic Nation of Texas,” and its motto could be “Mexico’s other annoying neighbor to the north.” Or perhaps just “Stupid is as stupid does.”

  7. Maybe Limbaugh should refer to the CIA’s Factbook website which characterizes
    America as being a “democratic republic”.

    Regarding textbooks and other forms of learning, I find it ironic and more than a little discouraging that in a time when we have the accumulated knowledge of 10,000 years of human civilization literally at our fingertips, thanks to the Internet, people seem to be getting more stupid and superstitious, not less so.

  8. Joan,
    Great points!!! And everyone at the new Texas border on the US side could all sport T-shirts that say, “I’m no longer with STUPID,” and point them at Texas.

  9. Wonder what they would do if some religion that doesn’t agree with them were to insist on rewriting the text books.

  10. Desperately needed – another constitutional amendment, requiring that after x number of voters sign a petition and all registered voters from all states vote, we can kick certain states out of the union simply because they are unbearable pains in the ass.

    Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Kansas and Oklahoma, I nominate to be voted on first. Screw secession, kick them out.

  11. Just plain weirdly, biographies of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Stephen F. Austin have been removed from the early grades.

    I don’t find it particularly baffling that right-wing white Southerners want to remove Lincoln.

  12. My Republican neighbor who was told by God to run for the school board, and won the position because she ran unopposed has informed me that the world will end in 2012, because that’s the end of the Mayan Calendar. Yepers, the Milky way is gonna get a super nova turned black hole, which is gonna make the Earth’s poles shift, and our bodies are gonna fly apart.My fucked -up “portfolio” should no longer concern me…..
    I told her the Mayan Calendar ends at 2012 because they ran out of space on the rock, which really pissed her off.Oh, she also reads the Bible daily.
    I’m REALLY tired of crazy people getting into politics, but it seems to attract them in droves. Anybody see Shatner’s poetry readings a’ la Palin? Funny as hell….

  13. erinyes,
    It was a classic!!! One of the greatest overactors riffing on one of the greatest underthinkers.

  14. I told her the Mayan Calendar ends at 2012 because they ran out of space on the rock….

    That is one of the funniest lines I’ve heard all week.

    Kind of surprised, though, that a fundie of the Judeo-Christian mold would hold with the alleged prophecies of those heathen Mayans. Oh well, some folks do surprise sometimes.

    One of the greatest overactors riffing on one of the greatest underthinkers.

    A close second for Funniest Line! I now have to go visit YouTube, and watch James Tiberius Girdle riff to the bongos. Been meanin’ to do that for two days. Thanks for reminding me, guys.

  15. Your exactly right, Maha. Many social studies textbooks provide a California and Texas version. My AP Gov. textbook, written by professors from Northwestern, have specific chapters available to Texas educators, presumably because the AP test will be different in this state (joking). The advent of technology is the next big thing down the pike. Kids can download or access from a website their entire textbook. They can write as many Texas chapters as they want and those of us who wouldn’t want them can just delete them. Problem solved. FWIW, most textbooks are marginally awful and teachers who rely heavily on them not much better.

  16. I was surprised the other day when visiting a big chain bookstore that they had a whole collection of books about the 2012 end of the world. I had no idea. Seems like we won’t have to worry about the health funding reform’s effect on the deficit, then, eh? Let’s just pass it, give everybody some health care, and then we’ll just let the End of Time pay for it. Awesome.

    Given the state of the public schools in Texas and many other states, we may not have to worry about what’s in the textbooks, because the students won’t be able to read anyway. 🙁

  17. Here’s on for you Joanr,
    Two Mayans and a rabbi walk into a bar,
    The Rabbi says: “Hey,yous guys want to buy a kidney?”
    The Mayans have a side bar, then say “Naw, the world’s gonna end in three years.
    Kidney, schmidney.”

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