Textbooks


"...in Texas, a country -- oops, make that a state -- where supporting "anti-evolution" gets you elected to school boards, common sense is at a dire premium... publish ideaologically tainted textbooks unconcerned with hard science..." (James E. McWilliams. "When Bovines Go Bad." Texas Observer, 8/13/04: 24-25).


"The State Board of Education (SBOE) has just placed another obstacle between high schoolers and accurate sex education information. The SBOE voted 13 to 1 on November 5, to adopt ninth- and 10th-grade health textbooks that are almost devoid of information on family planning and the prevention of sexually transmitted disease, dealing a severe blow to the state with the highest teen birthrate in the country...

"Once again, the recent activities of the SBOE have prompted a wave of national media attention (as in, "Oh, my, what truly dumb stuff is Tetxas doiing now?")" ("Missions Accomplished." Texas Observer, 11/19/04: 12-13).


"Students who learn creationism rather than evolution in science courses in school districts in Kansas and Georgia will now have a revised SAT exam made especially for them. The Swift Report says that students "will no longer be tested on their ability to comprehend passages from scientific texts that are based on the controversial theory of evolution..." ("No Comment." The Progressive, Feb, 2005: 11).


"Students at one of North Carolina's larger Christian schools are reading "Southern Slavery, As It Was," a booklet that explains a biblical justification for slavery and "asserts that slaves weren't treated as badly as people think," reports the News & Observer. The story includes excerpts from the booklet, which called slavery "a relationship bassed upon mutual affection and confidence"" ("No Comment." The Progressive, Feb, 2005: 11).


""Americans... seem to know relatively little about other countries and cultures." Nowhere has our myopic master narrative been more on display than in our high school textbooks, which... "model the national identity in a very profound and unique way." Which is to say: profoundly narrow and uniquely self-absorbed.

"Based on the general premise of American smugness, Lindaman and Ward offer a broader perspective on our history through foreign textbooks...

"...textbooks are unduly celebratory. Not only do they stress American isolationism, they do so with sweeping, proud narration... "textbook publishers... are doing away with what is most interesting about history: perspective... bias... and controversy"...

"...nations write histories that suit their own cultural needs...

"An honest assessment of our nation's past demands... that Americans come to terms with morally tragic paradoxes and profound injustices that coexisted with and in many cases supported the values that we hold so dear--life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. These values are at our nation's vital center, and they've all been sullied by the decisions we've made" (James E. McWilliams. "History Textbooks 101." Texas Observer, April 1, 2005: 20, 28).


"Everybody knows that ideas are a threat to children. In Texas, the danger seems to come the most from that left-wing center of propaganda and indoctrination: the public school system. Rep. Jerry Madden has filed a bill to safeguard social studies textbooks from the scourge of wrong ideas. The bill would require the social studiees curriculum to "be consistent with fundamental American principles, including patriotism, democratic values, and free enterprise." HB 973 dictates that social studies in Texas should "emphasize America's achievements"...

"The responsibility for ensuring these new standards are met will depend once again upon the often-criticized State Board of Education. The Board will gather testimony from teachers, parents, "business and industry representatives," and anyone else it wants. Then it will determine what is politically correct for Texas schoolchildren.

"HB 973 restores authority to the board that the Lege stripped away in 1995 after several public embarrassments. One of them concerned an illustration in a health textbook demonstrating how to perform a self-exam to check for breast cancer. Board members called the illustration of this potentially life-saving technique "embarassing" and "objectionable." They had it deleted from the textbook. In another instance, board members criticized a history book for its "overkill of emphasis on cruelty to slaves." (Texas textbooks are still a source of national horror and amusement. The March 2005 issue of Harper's published board member Terri Leo's proposed (but not adopted) changes to health textbooks regarding homosexuality.)" ("Bad Bills: The Radical Re-Write." Texas Observer, March 18, 2005: 12).


Colby Glass, MLIS