Some of you might have seen over the weekend a Facebook post — now gone viral — from a Houston mom who was shocked to see the Atlantic slave trade portrayed as a “migration” of “workers” from Africa in a new high school geography textbook. That textbook is one of scores of social studies textbooks adopted by the Texas State Board of Education last fall. The textbooks went into classrooms at the beginning of the current school year.

Over the weekend publisher McGraw-Hill acknowledged that the textbook passage about the African slave trade passage was misleading and said it would immediately move to correct it. Various news outlets have been reporting about this newest controversy involving Texas textbooks — another black eye for Texas.

We just sent out the following press release:

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller responded today to reports about how a new high school geography textbook mischaracterizes the slave trade as simply a migration of workers in American history:

“First of all, we are encouraged that the publisher is correcting this passage downplaying the history of slavery in the United States. But it’s no accident that this happened in Texas. We have a… Read More

It’s over. The State Board of Education just approved new social studies textbooks and they’re headed to classrooms. So where do we stand?

Perhaps the biggest headline of this whole saga: the important changes made to the books thanks to TFN’s work with scholars and activists like you:

REMOVED: climate-change denial REMOVED: biased depiction of affirmative action CORRECTED: slavery identified as primary cause of Civil War REJECTED: inflammatory content stereotyping Muslims

We knew these battles were coming four years ago when the state board adopted politicized standards, so we invested heavily to prepare. We’re already investing for future battles — and we need your support. If you think this work at the SBOE is valuable, then I invite you to say ‘thank you’ with a donation to TFN.

We got important corrections in the textbooks, but I don’t want to imply that the new books are perfect. Many include passages that suggest Moses influenced the writing of the Constitution and that the roots of democracy can be found in the Old Testament. The board and publishers rebuffed repeated efforts to correct those inaccuracies.

And once again the state’s process for approving… Read More

9:13 – The State Board of Education (SBOE) is set today to vote on which proposed new social studies textbooks to adopt for Texas public schools. Publishers have been submitting changes to their textbooks since the public hearing on Tuesday. The last batch of changes — listed on more than 800 pages from publisher WorldView Software — was posted on the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website mid-afternoon on Thursday. Who has reviewed these and other revisions from publishers? The truth is that there is no official process for doing so. It’s hard to believe that SBOE members had time to do it. They were in meetings Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, for example, they debated important issues such as whether teachers should be thrown in jail if they use instructional materials tied to Common Core standards. (Seriously.) So SBOE members today are being asked to vote on textbooks that they, TEA staff and most Texans haven’t had time to read and scholars haven’t had an opportunity to vet. But millions of public school students will use these textbooks over the next decade. The SBOE meeting agenda includes a variety of preliminary agenda items before board members take up the textbook issue.… Read More

The State Board of Education’s adoption of new social studies textbooks this week appears to be turning — all too predictably — into another political circus that shuts out the public as well as scholars and other experts.

Board members, including Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, continue — in private — to pressure publishers into making changes to their proposed textbooks. This means the public has limited ability to examine and express their opinions about changes to which publishers are agreeing behind closed doors. That is especially troubling if publishers feel compelled to continue making changes all the way up to Friday’s meeting and final vote on which textbooks the SBOE will adopt.

On Wednesday, Ms. Cargill successfully resisted an effort by board members to tell publishers that the board will not consider further changes proposed after noon today (Thursday). The purpose of that deadline was to prevent last-minute revisions that board members and interested members of the public won’t have time to review and vet with scholars, teachers and other experts before the final vote.

Just as troubling is that some board members continue to wave away — as we saw at the Tuesday public hearing — the concerns… Read More

1:15 – The State Board of Education (SBOE) has begun the second and final public hearing on social studies textbooks up for adoption for Texas public schools. MerryLynn Gerstenschlager from Texas Eagle Forum is up now. She just criticized textbooks for not making sure students learn about the “debate” over climate change. She argues that climate change science is part of a United Nations conspiracy to redistribute wealth globally.

1:18 – SBOE member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, insists that students should learn “the other side” of the debate. If he wants students to learn the other side of the political debate, that’s one thing. But the IPCC has made clear that the overwhelming scientific evidence shows climate change is a real and growing threat and that human activity is the primary driver.

1:23 – Joanathan Kaplan, who teaches Middle Eastern studies at the University of Texas at Austin, is critical of textbooks that present Moses as a major influence on the American founding, and he explains that it is a “gross exaggeration” for textbooks to suggest that the the roots of democratic political and legal traditions lie in the Old Testament.

1:25 – SBOE member Pat Hardy, R-Fort Worth, insists that Mosaic… Read More