Will We Be Stuck With Texas’ Textbooks?

Coming soon to a classroom near you: History textbooks that stress the “Christian origins” of the United States, play up the historical importance of figures like Phyllis Schlafly and Newt Gingrich, and examine the “unintended consequences” of the civil-rights movements and Title IX. The brouhaha over Texas’s efforts to pass these new conservative history standards—which are expected to be finalized later this spring—could have national repercussions. That’s because Texas is “a huge market leader in the school-textbook industry,” says the Associated Press. “The enormous print run for Texas textbooks leaves most districts in other states adopting the same course materials, so that the Texas School Board effectively spells out requirements for 80 percent of the nation’s textbook market.”


Filed under Public Education, Radical Rightwing groups, Religion, Republicans, Wingnuts!

35 responses to “Will We Be Stuck With Texas’ Textbooks?

  1. fnord

    Another question — why are we still depending heavily on text books?

  2. Well, we survived – albeit damaged – the years of Liberal biased textbooks. I’m sure that we can survive this correction, however ham-handed and overly reactionary it is.

    • indypendent

      liberal biased textbooks? to what exactly are you referring? Can you be more specific?

      • I’m tempted to do just that, indypendent. Yet this is someone else’s blog and I don’t her or her tolerance for long rants that are only tangentially related to her post.

        Suffice it say that the Liberals didn’t want some people and/or organizations included in History texts and wanted Social Studies curriculum to advocate “social justice” activism instead of just teaching the facts. We’ve also suffered through years of History textbooks and curriculum focused on America’s mistakes instead of it great successes.

        Now some of that is being reversed. They’ll go too far with though. 😦

  3. fnord

    Has anyone fleshed out any details on the recently announced changes to NCLB?

  4. fnord

    Hello jonolan, welcome to PP&Ps.

    My preferred route for our public schools would be to teach our children to think, teach them to use resources, teach them to use different information to gain understanding and perspective.

    I have confidence that our brightest and best will always be able to identify that which is prejudiced, that which is limiting, and use critical thinking skills to separate fact from opinion.

    • Your confidence can only be well placed if those “brightest and best” have access to the information. What is not taught cannot be learned.

      Example 1: Yankees are not taught about the horrific details of Sherman’s March to the Sea (Savannah Campaign) nor that he essentially invented the modern standard of “strategic warfare” – i.e., attacking civilian industry to cripple the enemy’s war effort.

      How then can they learn it?

      Example 2: Southerners are not taught about how the Confederacy used landmines on the major roads to stall Sherman’s forces and had no provisions for removing the mines afterward.

      How then can they learn it?

      • Late to the dance (again) but I must disagree with your argument, having lived in the North and here in Kansas (which might as well be the South-politically speaking).

        Lived in PA until the age of 11 and we were taught about the Civil War along the same lines as the Revolutionary War. Perhaps people in the rest of the country aren’t taught this, but the revolutionary war was also brother against brother and neighbor against neighbor. It was also very bloody and great sacrifices were made by many on both sides, great losses were suffered by many on both sides.

        I have learned SO MUCH since the end of my so-called Liberal Education. Most of my knowledge has been attained by reading and speaking to people from many walks of life about their experiences. I have successfully unlearned the lies that were taught to me about our supposedly great economic system we have exported to the world.

        I trust that I am not the only one capable of doing so. So I am with fnord on this one.

    • fnord

      Students should be taught how to think and how to use resources. Curiosity should be encouraged, and the brightest and best will be life long learners. They’ll learn what’s important and what’s not, they’ll learn what offers lessons and how to avoid some controversies that if a person becomes involved offer nothing of value. They’ll also learn to form their own value systems and their own opinions, how to add to and change their body of knowledge, how to remain current without losing lessons from the past.

      Plus, I don’t think the path will be the same for two people. I don’t think there’s only one correct path for life. I believe we learn from each other if we remain receptive to all ideas. I believe knowing how to think trumps knowing basic events or memorizing rote facts one can always find with resources available.

      • We agree upon that, but it has little to do with the real world of textbooks, fixed curricula, and the use of schools as juvenile warehousing.

      • fnord

        Why would we want to encourage any of that?

      • Sorry. I didn’t mean to imply that we would or should want to encourage any of that. I was only stating what the “educational” system currently is based upon from a methodology standpoint.

        Were it otherwise, the arguments over textbooks would be largely irrelevant and your post would never have been written.

      • fnord

        I see the argument over text books being one of ideology. The people on the Texas School Board seem to want text books rewritten to follow their particular flavor of ideology, with little regard for anything else.

        I don’t know what state you’re in, and of course would understand if you preferred not saying, but are the public schools as bad as you represent them in your state?

      • Yes, that is what they want. I is also what Liberals wanted and achieved in previous years. The pendulum swings and swings and few seem to care that it’s very axis is wrong.

        As for me, I live in New York, Brooklyn to be more exact. Yes, the public schools as bad as cited. but, when I was in Florida and later Maryland they were just as bad.

        Our public school system is a barely mitigated failure nationwide.

  5. indypendent

    Phyllis Schafly is also the main person behind the rewriting of the Bible – if you remember that one.

    This woman must have a God-complex.

    • fnord

      She wants text books AND the Bible rewritten!? Maybe she’s looking outward so she can fill her hours and have no time to look inward and see where there could be room for self improvement?

  6. fnord

    I’m in Kansas and our state’s biggest city is Wichita (where I live) which is a small city — population 380,000. The metropolitan area is just over 500,000. Wichita is surrounded by small ‘bedroom’ cities and each has its own school system.

    Wichita and Kansas City are about as close as we get to ‘inner city’ schools. There are actually two cities named Kansas City — one in the state of Kansas and the other in the state of Missouri. The one you may have heard about in the news recently is the one in the state of Missouri — they’re closing schools and losing about half their teachers due to budget cuts.

    Additionally, here in the Bible belt we have many small church schools and a fairly large home-schooled population.

    The public schools, of course, are where those who need ‘special’ services receive them. If your child has special needs those aren’t found in either the private schools or the networks of home schooled children. So, students who don’t speak English, students who have special needs, those too poor to move out of the city to get their children into those more desirable small towns and school districts make up a bigger proportion, percentage wise, of our schools. What we do have in Wichita schools and I personally place great value in is diversity. Yes, we have the challenges diversity brings too.

    Outside a very few cities we have lots of farm land, lots of low populated areas. Perhaps our situation is vastly different than that found in more highly populated places.

    I honestly don’t have any idea what you mean by, “…also what Liberals wanted and achieved in previous years.” Can you give me some examples of what you mean?

    • fnord

      Here’s a site that breaks down our population by ages and shows what a small percentage is school age.


    • OK.

      I’ll start with the caveat that I see the problems only occurring in the history & social studies departments. Physical sciences and mathematics are pretty much straightforward – despite issues arising from Evolution v. Creationism.

      A Few Liberal Biases:

      1 – Current textbooks describe the 2nd Amendment to grant the right to bear arms for military purposes only. No mention is made of any other individual use or grant or the argument over its definition.

      2 – Current textbooks cite Gorbachev as the cause of the collapse of the USSR and ignore Pres. Reagan’s contributions to it. Actually, Reagan is largely downplayed period.

      3 – Current textbooks inaccurately claim that President Bush “pulled out” of the Kyoto Protocols and never mention that Clinton had never submitted the treaty to Congress for ratification.

      4 – Current textbooks describe people who thought the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty of murder in 1920 were akin to fundamentalists, xenophobes, and/or the KKK.

      5 – No current textbooks mention ANYTHING about President Lincoln’s unflattering views of Blacks or his stated desire to get the bulk of them out of America after the Civil War.

      6 – Current textbooks describe the Boxer Rebellion in China as a patriotic effort to purge China of foreign invaders but describe US efforts to control and curb immigration as racist and nativist.

      On a more subtle and fundamental level the issue is that foreigners are glorified and Americans deprecated in many of the texts by the nature of verbiage used. Much of the texts read as if they were written by a member of a foreign and “unsympathetic” nation.

      I’d be happy to see a lot of that changed. But, as I said, they’ll go too far with it; they always do.

      • indypendent

        Please cite specific examples of these textbooks – their titles and authors, please.

        If you think Reagan had anything major to do with the collapse of Russia, I am afraid you and I part ways. The only thing Reagan did was to recite a well-scripted sentence to tear down a wall.

        That’s the problem with history – those Reagan apologists want Reagan to be put on some pedestal as some God and Reagan did more damage to our country than any foreign invader could ever do.

        Reagan pitted the economic classes against one another – while using his gift of the ‘silver tongue – forked tongue’ to make Americans feel fuzzy and safe from all those big, bad boogeymen.

        One thing Reagan did that I never hear any Reagan apologist ever defend is when Reagan gave weapons to Iran. Explain that one if you think Reagan has been misrepresented so badly in history books.

      • Some of the textbooks:
        The American Pageant by Bailey and David Kennedy

        Nation of Nations, by James Davidson

        American Destiny by Mark Carnes & Somebody else who I can’t remember

        The American Journey by Al Goldfield or Goldstein; I can’t remember

        While President Reagan should not be quasi-deified as some seek to do, he and his administration played a large role in the collapse of USSR.

        By wielding his “gilded tongue” to convince the USSR that “Star Wars” was near-term real he convinced them to enter an arms race against a bogeyman and bankrupt themselves far sooner than they would have otherwise.

        By tweaking some trade policies, he got more US quasi-luxury goods into the USSR, which added to the disgruntlement of the population thereof.

  7. indypendent

    I am not convinced that only Liberals want our educational system to inadequate.

    I think it is a goal of the current corporatization movement to have dumb Americans incapable of learning so that Americans will continue to worship the Almighty Corporation and work for pennies a day at some job that offers nothing but a dead end.

    And some of those pure Republican Conservatives who are so worried about the education system and now wanting to rewrite our textbooks are in full support of the Corporatization movement. I’ve seen people who protest paying taxes but will hand over all they have to some corrupt Corporation in order to make that extra dime in profit at the expense of our country.

  8. fnord

    You may be on to something there, indy. I’m going to try to research the changes Obama’s Secretary of Education is proposing for our public schools. It was announced earlier this week, and I’ve just not looked into it. I’ll see what I can find. And, see if there is anything but overall summaries available. Could be the ‘details’ aren’t fleshed out, and we know the devil is always in those details.

    I do know President Obama holds education in high esteem!

  9. Zippy

    Yep. Nailed it, Indypedent. The corporations support dumb–like foxes.

    Remember Oliver North, and “plausible deniablity”?

    Nope, no tinfoil hats, no black helicopters, no Alex Jones, no bullshit.

    Just follow what’s left of the press.

    • indypendent

      Dumb-like foxes – could that possibly be a Freudian slip regarding a certain Fair and Balanced news network??


  10. fnord


    You’re reciting subjects I choose to know nothing about! Evidently those liberal text books you complain about failed not only to indoctrinate me but to teach me your interpretations of history or those who may interpret those topics differently.

    Imagine that!

    What they didn’t fail was teaching me to use resources, and if I had an iota of interest in studying anything you listed, I could go investigate all the accounts, all the opinions, all the varying interpretations and consider them critically. Perhaps I would come to the same conclusions you did, perhaps not. Truth is, I’m not interested.

    I’ll bet I am interested in topics you have no interest in!

    • I mentioned only things that were in the current textbooks or lacking from relevant passages in those textbooks.

      Since they’re part of the required curriculum, they’re important. What a student is interested in matters less these days than what he is required to learn and parrot back on the exam. ;(

    • fnord

      I think the word is memorize long enough to take the test. To me, the word learn has a different meaning.

  11. fnord

    I am very interested in women’s history, but guess what — there isn’t much to be found. Nope. Women meant so little to the world not very long ago there just isn’t much history. Same goes for minorities. In fact, not long ago only the monied landowners who happened to be white meant anything in America. And they wrote their own accounts so why should we have much confidence in what those bigots wrote?

  12. fnord

    Furthermore, why in the world would I want the history those old monied white landowners lived to guide me in today’s world? We’ve come a long way, baby. And, we have a long way to go!

  13. indypendent

    jonolan –

    5 – No current textbooks mention ANYTHING about President Lincoln’s unflattering views of Blacks or his stated desire to get the bulk of them out of America after the Civil War.

    6 – Current textbooks describe the Boxer Rebellion in China as a patriotic effort to purge China of foreign invaders but describe US efforts to control and curb immigration as racist and nativist.

    I don’t know where you get your textbooks but I’ve heard plenty about Lincoln’s unflattering views of blacks. And I’m not surprised he would want most of the blacks out of the country because he knew the whites that still thought owning slaves was their ‘right’ would never give up. Lincoln knew that the actual Civil War battle may have been won but the actual Civil War was just starting.

    As for the immigration efforts, if you’re referring to the mostly Social Conservative Republican’s effort to curb immigration – then I do wonder what their motivation is in this. After all, most of those folks are from the Deep South – need I say more?

    As a final note, if you truly believe in our country, then immigration should be encouraged – not fought by a small group.

    The USA is a melting pot and we even brag about having the Statue of Liberty holding out her arms for the poor and downtrodden. The USA should be a symbol of hope for everyone in the world – not just those that a small group of Republicans would find acceptable.

    NOw, if you’re talking about curbing illegal immigration – that is another kettle of fish. But illegal immigration will never be curbed because Big Business, being encouaged by our politicians, like the illegals because they are cheap labor.

  14. fnord

    No matter how much the old white men in America want to go backwards in time, it isn’t going to happen.

  15. indypendent

    jonolan – have to still disagree with you about Reagan and Russia. Russia was destined to fail and it was just a matter of time

    And as for Reagan helping Russia to fall by bankrupting themselves – isn’t it ironic that Bush and other Republicans saw nothing wrong with bankrupting us against an enemy – Iraq and they had the eye on Iran next – even John McCain was for that one by singing his little bomb,bomb, bomb song.

    So, for all the silver-tongue, forked-tongue and ‘gilded’ tongue from Reagan himself – he only started the decline of the USA.

    But, you notice, those same people who worship Reagan are the very same ones wanting to rewrite history – is it a coincidence – I don’t think so.