Far Right’s Changes To Textbooks Prompt Thousands Of Outraged Letters To State, Publishers Opposing Textbook Censorship

Far Right’s Changes To Textbooks Prompt Thousands Of Outraged Letters To State, Publishers Opposing Textbook Censorship

November 12, 2002

AUSTIN, TX Two days before the State Board of Education votes on proposed Social Studies texts, dozens of people gathered for a press conference on the steps of the Texas Capitol to protest changes made to those books by the Religious Right.

“We’re here today to deliver literally thousands of postcards from Texas parents, educators, businesspeople, students, religious leaders and people from every walk of life who oppose the far right’s effort to censor needed information from Texas textbooks,” said Samantha Smoot, Executive Director of the Texas Freedom Network, which monitors the Religious Right.

The postcards were sent from people across Texas and addressed to State Board of Education members, Education Commissioner Felipe Alanis, textbooks publishers, and legislators, with a message urging them to fight textbook censorship.

“Mainstream Texans have had enough of far-right groups pushing their personal religious and political beliefs into Texas public school classrooms,” said Smoot.

Susan Moffat, whose 5th grade daughter attends Lee Elementary in Austin, told the crowd gathered why she got involved in the textbook review process this year.

“As a parent and a voter, I think it’s important to send a clear message: we do not want the Religious Right to dictate what our children learn in school,” said Moffat.

Sharon Rankin, a Republican voter and mother of two, said her personal experience has taught her the dangers of one religion using government to advance its particular beliefs and she criticized the effort to inject religious ideology into public school textbooks. “I don’t believe that any group should have the authority to make our textbooks into some kind of theological tool,” said Rankin.

“I’ve lived in Libya. I’ve lived in Egypt. Why on earth would we want to force that kind of theocracy on our free society,” said Rankin. “We don’t need religious instruction in our schools. We need accurate, factual information.”

The group called on publishers and State Board of Education members not to bow to political pressure from the Religious Right.

“We call on publishers to rethink the changes they’ve already accepted verbatim from far-right activists,” said Smoot. “We call on the State Board of Education and Commissioner Alanis to limit the political pressure exerted on publishers by refusing to allow changes after the Board’s vote this week which ends the public hearing process; and we call on legislators to take note of the undue influence the radical right wields over the Texas State Board of Education.”