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Textbook Case

Texas has a long history of producing school textbooks influenced by hard-right conservatives, but we had hoped those days were over.


Of more than 140 people on the textbook panels, only three are actually college-level educators. For example, the chair of the History Department at Southern Methodist University, who is also faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, applied to be on the history panel, but was turned down. Instead the US History panel includes a former car salesman who runs a Christian ministry in his hometown and had been a Republican nominee to the Texas Legislature (and who publicly announced that he does not “believe that there is a separation of church and state in the Constitution.”)

Needless to say, a review of the proposed textbooks found numerous mistakes, conservative bias, and overt religious messages. (Well at least Christian messages. In general, Muslims are portrayed negatively.)

There are also cartoons making fun of affirmative action, and perhaps worst of all, contain numerous inaccurate statements about climate change and climate science. For example, one textbook says that global warming will cause Earth’s temperature to rise for only a few years before temperatures will start to cool and eventually “even out”. The textbook even quotes non-scientist staffers from the Heartland Institute, a Koch-funded libertarian think tank whose climate doctrine has been discredited.

Unfortunately, because Texas is such a large market for textbooks, these problems will also show up in textbooks adopted by other states.



  1. Mike wrote:

    I suppose it would be utterly stupid to think that textbook publishers could take a stand for factual accuracy and impartial history.

    Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 8:59 pm | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    Unfortunately, the publishers are required to meet the specifications from the board of education.

    Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 10:05 pm | Permalink
  3. Mike wrote:

    But imagine a world in which Texas couldn’t buy conforming text books. What do they do then?

    Monday, September 22, 2014 at 12:15 am | Permalink
  4. Tex wrote:

    Simple – they’d just continue to use the old ones!

    Monday, September 22, 2014 at 8:51 am | Permalink
  5. wildwood wrote:

    My 14 year old grandson lives with us and his history book has been sitting unopened on the coffee table for weeks. He said his teacher is not using the book. Maybe that’s why. I would like to meet his teacher and find out if that’s the reason, but that will probably never happen.

    Monday, September 22, 2014 at 9:15 am | Permalink
  6. Michael wrote:

    While there are problems with this idea, I have a simple way to fix this: college faculty refuse to adopt any text created by a publisher that conforms to the TX standards. The publishers will only respond to things that hurt their bottom line. If, say, all biology and history faculty across the country refused to adopt McGraw-Hill’s textbook because MGH is complicit in undermining public education in TX, MGH would take notice. (Note I’m not saying that McGraw-Hill is necessarily offering such a text…I’m just using their name as an example.)

    Unfortunately, it’d never work. Trying to get faculty to agree on anything is like herding cats spread across 5 states.

    Monday, September 22, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink