Publishers Also Largely Appear to Be Resisting Demands from Extremists

October 20, 2014

The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund today applauded select changes made to proposed Texas public school social studies textbooks, as well as publishers’ unwillingness to bow to pressure from extremist groups seeking to insert further distortions into the texts.

TFN Education Fund President Kathy Miller cautioned, however, that numerous problems with the textbooks remain, and she renewed a call to publishers to correct biased and inaccurate content uncovered in a scholarly review of the textbooks sponsored by the TFN Education Fund.

Publishers briefed the State Board of Education on their proposed changes at a meeting in Austin today.

“We are glad that publishers are in some cases listening to the advice of scholars and qualified experts who have looked at these textbooks,” Miller said. “We are headed in the right direction, but there remain in the textbooks a number of biases and inaccuracies that should be corrected before the books can be approved by the State Board of Education.”

The TFN Education Fund in September submitted to publishers reports outlining various problems with the books. The reports, authored by scholars and doctoral students at top universities, found the textbooks contain serious distortions of history and contemporary issues on topics ranging from religion and democracy to the free enterprise system and affirmative action.

Some of the improvements made by publishers in response to the TFN Education Fund reports include improving coverage of world religions, clarifying that the issue of slavery was the major cause of the U.S. Civil War, and correcting discussions about the spread of Islam and Christianity over time.

Publishers have also ignored demands from extremist groups that want to use the textbooks to reinforce negative stereotypes about Islam. Instead, publishers have removed biased passages about Muslims identified in the TFN Education Fund report.

For selected examples of changes made to the books, as well as requests for changes rejected by publishers, see the list below.

However, problems remain in the textbooks. For example, passages that exaggerate the influence of Christianity on the nation’s founding are still in several of the books.

“These textbooks make Moses the original founding father and credit him for virtually every distinctive feature of American government,” Southern Methodist University history professor Kathleen Wellman said. “I believe students will believe Moses was the first American.”

The State Board of Education will vote on which textbooks to approve at its meeting in November. If approved, the textbooks will be in use in Texas public schools starting with the 2015-16 academic year and could remain in classrooms for the next decade.


The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund conducts research and citizen education in support of religious freedom, individual liberties and strong public schools.


Selected Examples of Publisher Corrections and Improvements

·      Social Studies School Service – World History

“Much of the violence you read or hear about in the Middle East is related to Jihad.”

Publisher Response: “We intend to address [this] by rewording the statement in question (and surrounding text) to eliminate generalizations regarding the causes of violence in the Middle East.”

·      Pearson Education – Texas History

Causes of the Civil War

Publisher Response: “Pearson will make the following correction: ‘In fact most historians agree that the major reason for disagreement about states’ rights was the determination of white southerners to maintain slavery. The economies of Texas and other southern states depended on slavery. The structure of these societies rested on slavery. All white people achieved some status in society simply because they were free.’”

·      Discovery Education – United States History (Civil War-Present)

Inadequate job discussing the relationship between the Enlightenment and Declaration of Independence 

Publisher Response: “The page describes John Locke in depth and provides links to Glossary Terms on enlightenment ideas, including the social contract and natural rights. Additional video content will be added to the page to provide more context.”

·      Discovery Education – United States History (Civil War-Present)

Description of spread of Catholicism in Latin America “soft pedals” conquest

Publisher Response: “We will add text to clarify the role that conquest played in conversion.”

·      Cengage  – World Geography and Culture (Grade 6)

Description: The text suggests inaccurately that Islam spread only by conquest.

Publisher Response: Revise passage to read, “In the centuries after Muhammad’s death, Muslims spread their religion by conquest, through trade, and through missionary work.”


Selected Examples of Publisher Rejection of Extremist Demands to Introduce Bias/Inaccuracy

·      Worldview Software – World History

Demand: “Half Truth: To portray any hypothesis or theory [like evolution] as fact is a clear misapplication of the scientific method. Hypotheses must be falsifiable through observation and reproducible experimentation to be considered a legitimate participant in the scientific method.”

Publisher Response: “WorldView is following current and standard usage of the terms in question. From the National Academy of Sciences: ‘Is Evolution a Theory or a Fact?’  It is both… No changes envisioned to the text.”

·      Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – World History Studies

Demand: “Factual Error: Islam wasn’t ‘revealed’ until 610 A.D. Muslims began invading nations 156 years after Rome fell (632 A.D.), and they had (and have) no respect for knowledge, so if anything was left, they wouldn’t have cared to save it. Islam does not believe in preserving; exactly the opposite, in fact, in its belief that everything pre-Allah is corruption of truth and they must rip it up or tear it down.”

Publisher Response: Publisher agreed to clarify the timeline but did not agree to add distorted anti-Islam content promoted by the reviewer.

·      Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – World Geography Studies

Demand: “Omission of Fact & Half Truth: Does not stress the dangers, oppression, and lack of freedoms that Communism always brings. ‘Benefits’ is not a correct word when using the word Communism. The word ‘benefits’ insinuates good things. Communism brings nothing good. This should be brought up in this section [on Cuba].”

Publisher Response: “Use of the word ‘benefits’ to describe the provision of education and health care under communism is appropriate.”

·      Pearson Education – Contemporary World Cultures

Demand: “For the Islamists jihad does not mean ‘the struggle to be a better person.’ It does not mean ‘violent struggle.’ It means holy war with the intent of spreading Islam throughout the world.”

Response: “This is not a factual error. The term has more than one meaning. It can be interpreted as the struggle to be a better person and as violent struggle in the form or holy war with the intent to spread Islam.”

·      Worldview Software – World History

Demand: “[Marcus Garvey] He stirred pride in African history? He stirred racism in America… Black people in America are known as Americans just as white people, red people, etc. To distinguish this person as a ‘Notable Person’ is appalling.”

Publisher Response: “No changes envisioned to the text.”