Texas History textbook controversy
A large amount of scholastic text books are written and published in the State of Texas. Texas is known for its conservative and maverick viewpoints. The hotly debated issue came to a boiling point after two long and arduous years of contention; in March 2010. The issue was changing textbooks, mainly historical (social studies) curriculum and its content. In particular, up for change was to decide who should be included in history lessons. The panel of 15 members of the Texas State Board of Education, which could be considered one of the most powerful in the country, listened to the public from all walks of life. They each had three minutes to state their case and opinions.
The changes to the textbook curriculum, many concerning American and World history, would greatly affect students from kindergarten through high school and influence their perspective of the past. The changes will take effect and endure for the next ten years. Conservatives and those on the left, feel passionate about this issue. Many believe the Christian Coalition, headed up by Pat Robertson, has been a determining factor in increasingly active and conservative Christians running for local and state school board positions since the 1980’s. Part of their goal is to have textbooks reflect that the United States was founded as a Christian Nation by our godly founding fathers. One conservative activist on the Texas Board candidly said, “The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next.” (Shorto, NY Times Feb 2010)
The showdown has many up in arms, saying it’s time to mess with Texas. The looming question at hand is, is history being rewritten or being corrected? More than 200 hundred people signed up to voice their opinion and 20,000 comments were received by the State Board of Education. (MSNBC, May 2010) Some experts in the Textbook Publishing industry say a particular state or school district does not dictate what gets published, referring to this as an urban myth.
On May 21st, 2010, the Texas School Board approved the new standards of social studies curriculum by a vote of 9-5. The new standards will take effect in August 2011. It includes adding influences of Biblical and Christian concepts, free market principles and contributions by conservative leaders in our country’s history. As one former board member, Don Leroy, put it “I think it is important to understand why America is such a wonderful place”. (Khan, May 2010, ABC News)
Khan, Huma, Politics of Education: New Texas Social Sciences Curriculum Standards Fraught With Ideology, Critics Say May 2010 ABC News, 31 July 2010
Texas Textbook Showdown, May 2010 MSNBC, 31 July 2010 <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37220562/ns/us_news-life/>
Shorto, Russell How Christian Were The Founders? Feb 2010, NY Times 31 July 2010 <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/14/magazine/14texbooks-t.html?_r=1>