After recklessly politicizing new social studies curriculum standards just months ago, the Texas State Board of Education wasted no time manufacturing another political controversy instead of focusing on the education of public school students. In July a failed state board candidate, Randy Rives of Odessa, asked the board to adopt a resolution condemning what he alleges are “pro-Islamic/anti-Christian bias” in social studies textbooks. Here is a short clip of Rives introducing his resolution in July, comparaing the “pro-Islam” agenda in textbooks to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s declaration that he would take over America without firing a shot:
The proposed resolution, now championed by far-right members of the board, includes a variety of disingenuous claims designed to demonstrate the alleged bias in high school world history textbooks published in 1999. A Texas Freedom Network analysis shows that the resolution and its supporting materials are based on claims that are superficial and grossly misleading. Further, examples cited in the resolution come from world history books no longer used in Texas schools. Yet the board is set to consider the measure at its September 22-24 meeting in Austin.
This resolution is another example of state board members putting politics ahead of expertise and refusing to consider the advice of real scholars before doing something provocative and divisive. Indeed, the board has asked no scholars or other experts for public advice about the resolution. Moreoever, the resolution insists that the board has the authority to reject any proposed textbooks that do not deal with Christianity and Islam as board members desire. As a result, this measure represents and end-run around Texas law barring the board from editing or censoring textbooks.
The Texas Freedom Network believes textbooks should treat all religions with respect and dignity. This ill-considered resolution, however, is simply a thinly veiled attempt to generate fear and promote religious intolerance. And more than this, it involves our children in a divisive political debate that has no place in Texas classrooms.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Textbooks from ten years ago the subject of a current resolution; and even at that, erroneous conclusions from 10 year old textbooks. Why hasn't the SBOE been sunset yet? Clearly, they don't have enough real work to keep them busy.