The State Board of Education is set this year to adopt new social studies textbooks for Texas public schools. So we went back to our files to see what happened during the last social studies textbook adoption in the Lone Star State more than a decade ago.

During public hearings and in written comments submitted in 2002, right-wing activists and state board members raised numerous political objections to content in history, geography, government and economics textbooks publishers had submitted to the board for approval. The pressure they put on publishers to bow to political demands and alter their textbooks succeeded in a number of areas. Following are ten of the worst changes publishers agreed to make:… Read More

The Texas State Board of Education will vote in November on new social studies textbooks that will be in Texas classrooms for the next decade. Earlier this month, official state review panels met in Austin to vet those books. As we did during the science textbook adoption process last year, the Texas Freedom Network researched who got appointed to the social studies panels this summer. We just sent the following press release describing what we found — the news isn’t encouraging.

When you’re done reading, head to tfn.org/history to sign the petition calling for classroom materials that offer an honest, accurate portrayal of history and are free of political agendas.

A Texas Freedom Network analysis has revealed that numerous qualified scholars were bypassed for appointment to official state panels assigned to review proposed social studies textbooks for Texas public schools this year. Equally shocking, individuals with no qualifications in a relevant field or teaching experience got places on the panels.

State Board of Education (SBOE) members nominated many of the unqualified reviewers. In one instance the chair of the SBOE facilitated the appointment of a Texas House candidate who argues against separation of church and state.

“This is just the… Read More

After 2,358 of your petition signatures and testimony from dozens of Texans in support, the State Board of Education today voted to make it easier for Texas schools to offer courses in Mexican-American, African-American, Native American and Asian-American studies.

The 12-2 vote means publishers will have a chance to submit to the state instructional materials for those courses next year. Schools choosing to teach the classes would use curriculum standards designed for special local courses. Another conversation at the board’s July meeting will further dictate the rigor of these courses.

For those of you unfamiliar with the party breakdown of the board, 12 votes in favor means the measure had bipartisan support. The two ‘no’ votes came from David Bradley, R-Beaumont, and Geraldine “Tincy” Miller, R-Dallas. Board member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, was at today’s hearing but did not cast a vote.

It’s true, this isn’t the stand-alone, state course advocates wanted — but it’s an important step forward. That’s especially true because four years ago state board members debated whether American heroes like Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and Thurgood Marshall should even be included in the state’s social studies curriculum standards.

Right-wing groups opposed any effort to teach courses… Read More

We just sent out the following press statement after the State Board of Education’s vote today on ethnic studies courses in Texas public schools:

The Texas State Board of Education today voted 12-2 to call for publishers to submit instructional materials next year for locally developed elective courses in Mexican-American, African-American, Asian-American and Native American studies. Districts choosing to offer such courses could do so using the state’s Special Topics in Social Studies curriculum standards. The state board took this action in place of adding an elective course on Mexican-American Studies to the official state curriculum. TFN President Kathy Miller had this to say about today’s vote:

“While we would have preferred a state elective course that recognized the substantial way in which Mexican-Americans, African-American, women and others have shaped Texas and our nation, today’s vote represents an important step toward ensuring that more students get a fuller understanding of our history and the diverse cultures that have shaped it. Just four years ago this board was divided over how or even whether students should learn about American heroes like Cesar Chavez, Thurgood Marshall and Dolores Huerta. So we’re encouraged by this progress, especially as we look ahead to… Read More

This week we got a hopeful sign — at least a little one — that politics might not entirely govern the State Board of Education’s upcoming adoption of new social studies textbooks. Partly in reaction to how anti-evolution activists nearly hijacked the adoption of science textbooks last year, state board members adopted new rules that will govern the process of adopting textbooks going forward.

To be sure, much stronger protections are needed. But, as we said in the following press release we just sent out, these new rules are modest steps in the right direction.

New rules approved by the State Board of Education this week are a modest but necessary step toward ensuring that decisions about textbook adoptions for Texas public schools are based on facts and sound scholarship, not politics, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said today.

“While we’d like to see even stronger protections against political meddling, these new rules at least show board members are aware that they need to clean up the adoption process,” Miller said. “It’s way past time to stop SBOE members and activists with an ax to grind from manipulating this process and politicizing our students’ textbooks.”

The new… Read More