TFN Urges Rejection of Reading Lists in New Language Arts Standards

TFN Urges Rejection of Reading Lists in New Language Arts Standards

Reading Lists Tie Hands of Teachers, Turn Classes into Culture War Battlegrounds

March 26, 2008

Reading lists in proposed new statewide English/language arts and reading (ELAR) curriculum standards would tie the hands of classroom teachers and turn literature and reading classes into culture war battlegrounds, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said today.

“Professional teachers don’t need dentists and insurance salesmen on the state board telling them which books and authors meet their personal approval,” Miller said. “Teachers already know what they need to educate Texas schoolchildren. We should listen to them and keep the personal agendas of politicians and fringe activists out of the classroom.”

The State Board of Education is debating new statewide ELAR curriculum standards this week in Austin. Political activists are already objecting to the inclusion of certain authors and books on the proposed reading lists in those standards. Last week education gadfly Donna Garner, for example, sent State Board of Education members an e-mail criticizing the inclusion of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye on a new proposed reading list in the ELAR standards. Catcher in the Rye has been a common book in many high school literature classes, but it has also long been a target of conservative censors who object to the book’s profanity and mature themes.

Social conservatives on the state board tried unsuccessfully in January to win approval for proposed ELAR standards promoted by Garner for more than a decade. Those standards included Garner’s own reading lists for students.

The board then appointed a subcommittee to review a separate standards document developed over the past two years by teachers, curriculum experts and Texas Education Agency staff. That document did not include reading lists.

Teachers asked to be allowed to finish work on that document, but the board is now considering draft standards crafted in recent weeks by the subcommittee. The new draft does include reading lists. Teachers have also objected to specific approaches to teaching grammar and reading comprehension in the new draft.


The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of religious and community leaders who advance a mainstream agenda supporting public education, religious freedom and individual liberties.