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In Texas, social studies textbooks get a conservative make-over

The Texas State Board of Education has approved controversial changes to social studies textbooks, pushing high school teaching in a more conservative direction.

By Staff writer / May 22, 2010

Several hundred protestors gathered outside the building where the Texas State Board of Education was meeting Wednesday in Austin regarding controversial revisions to social studies textbooks.

Larry Kolvoord/Austin American-Statesman/AP

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In a move that has potential national impact, the Texas State Board of Education has approved controversial changes to social studies textbooks – pushing high school teaching in a more conservative direction.

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The Dallas Morning news reports that the curriculum standards adopted Friday by a 9-5 vote along party lines on the elected board have “a definite political and philosophical bent in many areas.”

“For example, high school students will have to learn about leading conservative groups from the 1980s and 1990s in U.S. history – but not about liberal or minority rights groups that are identified as such. Board members also gave a thumbs down to requiring history teachers and textbooks to provide coverage on the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy while the late President Ronald Reagan was elevated to more prominent coverage in the curriculum. In addition, the requirements place Sen. Joseph McCarthy in a more positive light in U.S. history despite the view of most historians who condemn the late Republican senator’s tactics and his view that the U.S. government was infiltrated by Communists in the 1950s.”

Conservative icons

Students would learn about the “unintended consequences” of Title IX, affirmative action, and the Great Society, and would study such conservative icons as Phyllis Schlafly, the Heritage Foundation, and the Moral Majority.

There’s also more emphasis on religion’s role in US history. This was evident in the opening prayer at Friday’s meeting in Austin by education board member Cynthia Dunbar made "in the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ … [on behalf of] “a Christian land governed by Christian principles.”

Supporters of the changes see them as correcting liberal views imposed when Democrats controlled the state education board.

“The proposed changes have attracted national attention because they challenge the powerful ideology of the left and highlight the great political divide of our country,” Texas State Board of Education member Don McLeroy wrote in USA Today last month. “The left’s principles are diametrically opposed to our founding principles. The left believes in big, not limited, government; they empower the state, not the individual; they focus on differences, not unity.”

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