The Texas State Board of Education decides what every student in Texas public schools will learn from kindergarten through high school. The board does so by adopting curriculum standards and textbooks for public schools in the state.

For decades, politicians on the State Board of Education and their activist allies have taken advantage of this flawed system to dismiss the advice of experts and scholars. They have instead worked to inject their personal views into textbooks on everything from evolution and climate change to the history of slavery, civil rights and separation of church and state.

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The Latest on Textbook Censorship

On Tuesday a number of university scholars spoke out at a State Board of Education (SBOE) public hearing on proposed social studies textbooks for Texas public schools. Among those scholars was Dr. Jacqueline Jones, chair of the history department at the University of Texas at Austin. She was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History this year for her book A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race from the Colonial Era to Obama’s America. Dr. Jones focused her hearing testimony on one of the textbooks submitted by publisher Pearson Education. Her testimony, which we are posting here with her permission, is an excellent commentary on how the state’s deeply flawed curriculum standards (adopted by the SBOE in 2010) and textbooks based on those standards distort American history and promote ideological biases rather than sound scholarship.

My name is Jacqueline Jones. I am a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, where I chair the history department. I received my PhD in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My fields of expertise include the history of modern America, the Civil War, the South, and the labor of African Americans and women. Between 2011 and 2014, I taught more than 1,000 UT… Read More

You can watch today’s public hearing at the State Board of Education live online here.

3:50 – The board hearing just ended. Board members will discuss the textbooks tomorrow (Wednesday). We’ll be here.

3:47 – Cargill and other board members keep arguing that nothing can be done about the flawed curriculum standards adopted in 2010. So in their view, the flawed textbooks get a free pass because the flawed standards they are based on are already on the books. Huh?

3:43 – Patty Quinzi from the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, compliments TFN for asking respected scholars to review the proposed textbooks. We appreciate that. It’s too bad state board members didn’t ensure that more than a tiny handful of university scholars served on the official state review teams.

3:38 – Emile Lester, a professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington who reviewed proposed government textbooks for the TFN Education Fund, is up. As he does in his report for us, Lester expresses concerns about how textbooks exaggerate religious influences — especially Moses — on the American founding and the Constitution. No one challenges his points.

3:17 – Zach Kopplin, a science advocate and member of Americans… Read More

When it comes to Texas textbook adoptions, attacks on science seem to be almost an annual affair now. So with the State Board of Education considering new social studies textbooks for Texas public schools this fall, we asked the National Center for Science Education to check what those texts say about climate change. The news is troubling. One textbook goes so far as to equate arguments from a polluter-funded political advocacy group with real facts from an international science organization that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Check out (below) our joint press release with NCSE.

Then click here to sign our petition and send a message to textbook publishers: take climate change denialism out of textbooks. Here’s the press release we just sent out:

An examination of how proposed social studies textbooks for Texas public schools address climate change reveals distortions and bias that misrepresent the broad scientific consensus on the phenomenon.

Climate education specialists at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) examined the proposed textbooks, which publishers submitted for consideration by the State Board of Education (SBOE) in April. NCSE identified a number of errors as well as an exercise that absurdly equates a political… Read More

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. Read More

In case you missed the news, the TFN Education fund on Wednesday released the results of a TFN-commissioned review of proposed social studies textbooks up for consideration by the Texas State Board of Education. The books, which will be voted on by the SBOE later this year, were reviewed by 10 scholars, including Dr. Emile Lester of the University of Mary Washington.

It is with Dr. Lester that we’ll begin today by going over just a few troubling examples of what the scholars found in their reviews.

Below is what Dr. Lester found on affirmative action in a Pearson Education textbook.

You can read Dr. Lester’s full review, and sign the petition calling for classroom materials that offer an honest, accurate portrayal of history and are free of political agendas, at tfn.org/history.

This summary of review findings has noted several times that the Pearson textbook occasionally displayed a tendency to prioritize ideology above a balanced treatment of opposing ideas. This tendency unfortunately is as, if not more, pronounced in the text’s treatment of affirmative action. Indeed, the textbook’s treatment of affirmative action verges on the offensive with its inclusion of two cartoons. One cartoon depicts… Read More

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