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.
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But as the Monitor’s Amanda Paulson reported this week, critics are dismayed at what they see as an attempt to push conservative ideology – even if it flies in the face of scholarship – into textbooks.Skip to next paragraph
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“Every child in Texas deserves the right to have authentic history. ... Not history that ought to promote somebody’s political ideology,” Rod Paige, a Republican and former superintendent of the Houston Independent School District who served as Education Secretary under President George W. Bush, told ABC News. “I’m not so naive that I don’t understand that the board’s political leanings will be a part of it but I just think that it swings the pendulum too far. Right now it’s moving too far to the right.”
“We should’ve had historians and educators overseeing the curriculum requirements. Instead, these board members who don’t have any more expertise than I do have imposed their personal beliefs, their own ideological agenda, on this curriculum,” Terri Burke, executive director of the
American Civil Liberties Union’s Texas chapter, told ABC.
The Obama administration weighs in
"We do a disservice to children when we shield them from the truth, just because some people think it is painful or doesn’t fit with their particular views," US Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement. "Parents should be very wary of politicians designing curriculum."
Because Texas, with nearly 5 million students, is such a large textbook market, other school districts around the country frequently buy the same education materials.
“Decisions that are made in Texas have a ripple effect across the country,” Phillip VanFossen, head of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and a professor of social studies education at Purdue University, told the Monitor.
Other states are watching closely. A state senate committee in California has passed a bill that would ensure no California textbooks contain any Texas-driven changes.