TFN in the News: Review of Social Studies Textbooks

by Jose Medina

TFN had a busy week. Last Wednesday we released a TFN-commissioned review of social studies textbooks that the Texas State Board of Education will vote on later this year.

That review, conducted by university scholars, found plenty of problems with the books, which can be traced back to the seriously flawed, politicized social studies standards the board approved a few years ago. Because of that, the review has been getting plenty of media attention.

Here is a round up of coverage of the review. Read up and get ready. We all have a big week ahead as the board gathers for its September meeting, including a hearing on the books this Tuesday.

POLITICO
Texas students may soon be reading in their history textbooks that the American system of democracy was inspired by Moses, segregated schools weren’t all that bad and taxes imposed for programs like Social Security haven’t measurably improved society.

Associated Press
The next ideological fight over new textbooks for Texas classrooms intensified Wednesday with critics lambasting history lessons that they say exaggerate the influence of Moses in American democracy and negatively portray Muslims.

KEYE
A Texas group wants to keep what they call, “flawed” and “distorted” textbooks out of public school classrooms, but some people are happy with the books the way they are.

La Voz
Maestros, activistas y funcionarios de educación se están preparando para librar una batalla por libros de texto en las escuelas de Texas, en momentos en que la Junta Estatal de Educación discutirá los materiales docentes para la asignatura de Estudios Sociales por primera vez en 12 años.

KXAN
“A number of textbook passages essentially reflect the ideological beliefs of politicians on the state board rather than sound scholarship and factual history,” said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund.

Texas Tribune
Scholars recruited by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund are criticizing social studies textbooks under state consideration, saying the books offer distorted views on history and current events.

Austin American-Statesman
History and religious scholars hired to conduct a review of proposed social studies textbooks up for adoption this fall described the content of the books as misleading and inaccurate.

Dallas Morning News
Four years after State Board of Education members clashed over history standards in Texas schools, publishers are facing criticism over new textbooks and e-books based on those changes.

Houston Chronicle
The social studies textbooks Texas schoolchildren are likely to begin using next year contain misleading, biased, and incomplete information, according to a review released Wednesday by a left-leaning advocacy group.

Texas Public Radio
The Texas Freedom Network-released study shows the content in some of social studies textbook submitted to the Texas State Board of Education is deeply flawed and biased. The study points to problems with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills that publishers use as an outline.

Austin Chronicle
An independent review of Texas social studies textbooks reveals distortions of history on topics ranging from religion and democracy to the free enterprise system and affirmative action, according to education watchdog Texas Freedom Network.

Dallas Observer
Social studies textbooks have been under increasing scrutiny this year, as the successor to the science textbook controversy last year. For the first time in 12 years, the State Board of Education will review social studies textbooks, this time under social studies standards put in place in 2010. This time, the critics come from conservative and liberal camps.

Time Warner Cable News
The Texas Freedom Network says some major flaws are present in proposed Texas social studies textbooks, but adds there’s still time to keep those books out of classrooms.

Huffington Post
Another battle could be brewing over Texas textbooks, this time because scholars say the proposed lessons distort history.

MSNBC
“In the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. taxes are ‘what we pay for civilized society.’ Society does not appear to be much more civilized today than it was when Justice Holmes made that observation in 1927. However, ‘what we pay’ has certainly gone up.” That’s not a quote from a tea party manifesto. It’s the first paragraph of the section on taxation in a proposed new social studies textbook for Texas schools.

Policy Mic
Students in Texas may soon be learning some messed-up history thanks to a new set of textbooks, including how segregation was “sometimes” unfair to African-Americans.

Opposing Views
The Texas Freedom Network reports that “some [proposed] textbooks greatly exaggerate religious influences on the American founding, with some going so far as to suggest without substantiation that Moses was a major influence, that ‘the roots of democratic government’ can be found in the Old Testament, and that ‘the biblical idea of a covenant… contributed to our constitutional structure.'”

Chronicle of Higher Education
Ten scholars have criticized history textbooks under consideration for use in Texas high schools for, among other things, portraying Islam in a negative light and exaggerating the influence of Christianity in the founding of the United States.

Education Week
New social studies textbooks under consideration by the Texas board of education include “serious distortions of history and contemporary issues,” according to a watchdog group’s recent review. Among other problems cited by the group are that the textbooks exaggerate religion’s role in the founding of the country, include negative stereotypes about Islam, gloss over civil rights efforts for gay and lesbian citizens, and are critical of affirmative action.

San Antonio Current
In an independent review of social studies textbooks under consideration for use in Texas public school classrooms, university scholars found dozens of examples of inaccurate and distorted facts and misinformation on topics ranging from world history to the origin of American democracy to affirmative action to the free enterprise system. The review was sponsored by the Austin-based watchdog group the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund.

Raw Story
Scholars examining high school social studies textbooks at the behest of the Texas Freedom Network have determined that the majority of the books adopted for classroom use in 2015 are “flawed” and “distorted.”

International Business Times
An analysis of textbooks under consideration to be distributed in Texas public schools this year finds that they include biased statements that could be shaping young minds’ perceptions about American history and ethnic groups.

Washington Post
When it comes to controversies about curriculum, textbook content and academic standards, Texas is the state that keeps on giving.

Houston Press
It seems the Texas education system is still nursing a hangover from the State Board of Education’s raucous culture-warrior party days. Hell, it’s possible they’re still drunk.

Crooks and Liars
Remember the Great Texas Textbook Debate? Yeah, four years later they’ve arrived, along with reviews by independent organizations who have some serious issues with their content.

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