Since the murder of nine people at an African-American church in Charleston last month and the renewed controversy over the Confederate flag that followed, we’ve seen a slew of stories about what public school textbooks teach about the Civil War. Very early on, we got a call from the Washington Post on this question. While that reporter generally did a good job explaining the nuances of the controversy in Texas, we’ve seen quite a few stories from other media outlets that haven’t quite hit the mark. So let’s set the record straight on some key questions.
In the first place, why would anyone outside the state care what Texas textbooks say about anything?
Because of the huge size of the Texas market, publishers have typically written their textbooks to conform to curriculum standards in this state and then also sold those textbooks in other states around the country. Technology, publishing methods and other factors have somewhat lessened the influence of Texas, but that influence remains strong. That’s largely a consequence of the economics of publishing.
So what’s the problem with the Texas curriculum standards?
Publishers write their textbooks to conform to curriculum standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), that are adopted by the State Board… Read More
Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller, speaking Sunday on MSNBC’s The Melissa Harris-Perry Show, discussed how textbooks in Texas distort the history of the Civil War. Check out the interview in the short clip below.
Former Texas State Board of Education chair Don McLeroy isn’t done distorting history.
While McLeroy was on the board in 2010, he and his colleagues gave Texas schools new social studies curriculum standards that downplay the primary role slavery played in the Civil War. Now, as a former SBOE member, he’s rewriting the role he and other board members played in writing those pretty much universally panned standards on which history textbooks for millions of Texas schoolchildren are based.
Here was McLeroy this week, appearing alongside TFN President Kathy Miller, on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show.” McLeroy defended the standards (as well as the ridiculous revision and approval process for those standards) and said some things that weren’t very accurate. Watch the clip in its entirety and we’ll have more below the fold.
On the causes of the Civil War, McLeroy says the board “never really discussed that very much.” He actually makes that claim twice in the “Ed Show” clip. Coincidentally, that’s how many times the board discussed (at length) the causes of the Civil War in just one day — May 20, 2010.
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
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