Textbooks proposed for Texas schools open can of worms

Roundup
tags: Texas, textbooks



Emile J. Lester is a professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington. Reach him at elester@umw.edu. David Brockman, a religious studies instructor at Southern Methodist University and the Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, and SMU history professor Ed Countryman also contributed to this essay.

Students in Texas public schools could soon be learning that democracy and our nation’s government are based on the ideas of biblical figures like Moses and King Solomon. That’s because the State Board of Education is set to adopt new textbooks that teach this peculiar distortion of American history.

Such an outcome would surely gladden the hearts of culture warriors who insist that America is a distinctly Christian nation that should be guided by biblical law. But it should distress parents, scholars and others who recognize the profound influence religion has had in our history — as in the struggles against slavery and for racial equality — but object to exaggerating it and misleading students about it.

Barring late changes by publishers, the new Texas textbooks will distort the facts on a variety of other topics as well. That’s largely because the textbooks are based on controversial curriculum standards SBOE politicians put in place four years ago. Even the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute has called the state’s new history standards a “politicized distortion.” Sharing these concerns, we reviewed the proposed new textbooks for the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund.

Our reviews identified numerous examples of politics trumping facts. Some textbook passages distorted mainstream science on climate change, for example. Others played down the role that slavery played in causing the American Civil War. Still other biased passages promoted tea party ideology on issues such as taxation, regulation and affirmative action...




comments powered by Disqus