Main | Friday, June 18, 2010

Texas Textbooks: What Happened And What To Do About It

People For The American Way has published an excellent dissection of the Christian right's takeover of the Texas textbook program.
The Religious Right has invested so heavily in Texas textbooks because of the national implications. School districts in Texas have to buy books from a state-approved list, and Texas is such an enormous market that textbook publishers will generally do whatever they can to get on that list. Textbooks written and edited to meet Texas standards end up being used all over the country. So Religious Right leaders in Texas can doom millions of American students to stunted, scientifically dubious science books and ideologically slanted history and social studies books. Advances in printing technology make it easier to prevent that from happening now, but it will take vigilance to keep publishers from following the path of least resistance.

The war heated up in recent years after far-right groups won a working majority on the elected state board of education and Gov. Rick Perry appointed the ringleader of the far-right faction, dentist Don McLeroy, as chair of the board in 2007. Since then, the Religious Right faction focused on standards for the approval and purchase of science textbooks for the next decade. McLeroy and his allies stripped any mention of the age of the universe from the science standards (those millions and billions of years are annoying to young-earth creationists who insist the universe is only 6,000 years old). In addition, the new standards will essentially require the teaching of evolution denialism and climate change denialism. The most recent battle, over the standards for new social studies textbooks, culminated in May with the adoption of social studies standards that give the far-right faction and its Religious Right advisors far too many victories in their efforts to replace history with ideology and turn public school classrooms into Heritage Foundation seminars.
PFAW has created a petition to the nation's publishing houses asking them to refuse Texas-created textbooks. Sign it.

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