What's in the Proposed New Texas Textbooks? Taxes Are Bad for Society

by Dan Quinn

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This cartoon from Pearson Education’s Magruder’s American Government is an example of how Tea Party rhetoric shapes discussions on issues such as taxation and government regulation in proposed new social studies textbooks for Texas public schools. The same textbook includes this passage:

“In the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., taxes are ‘what we pay for civilized society.’ Society does not appear to be much more civilized today than it was when Justice Holmes made that observation in 1927. However, ‘what we pay’ has certainly gone up.”

Dr. Emile Lester, who reviewed the government textbooks publishers are proposing this year for Texas schools, explains what’s wrong with this passage in his report:

“The text neglects to mention that defenders of increased taxation for an expanded safety net would respond that programs adopted since 1927 such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act have produced such ‘civilized’ benefits as a drastic reduction of poverty and economic insecurity among the elderly, children, and the population at large, and improved and more equal access to health care.”

Right-wing politicians on the State Board of Education in Texas hoped for this kind of textbook content when they passed deeply flawed and politicized new curriculum standards for social studies classes in 2010. The new textbooks must cover those standards.

You can read more about the problems in the proposed new social studies textbooks for Texas public schools here: tfn.org/history. While you’re there, sign the petition calling for textbooks based on honest, accurate history, not the ideological beliefs of politicians on the State Board of Education. The State Board of Education is set to vote in November on which textbooks to approve.

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