History News Network | Does Texas Care About the Truth in the Textbooks It Approves?

Christopher Rose discusses his experience with the Texas State Board of Education and textbook approval in this article on the HNN. He concludes: “What I have learned from this experience is that it is important for scholars like those in the Department of History to get their voice out there. As Dr. Jones pointed out in her testimony, what’s being taught in Texas schools has a direct bearing on what happens in university classrooms. We have to be active as public scholars and historians—and for me that’s the most important lesson I’ve learned.” Read his interesting account at:

History News Network | Does Texas Care About the Truth in the Textbooks It Approves?.

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The Texas State Board of Education Approves Misleading Textbooks

In 2010 the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) approved controversial curriculum standards for social studies at all grade levels in the public education system. (The New York Times) These standards put textbook publishers in the difficult position of choosing between established scholarship, which would risk the rejection of their products by the SBOE, or conforming to the ideologically-driven curriculum standards in order to sell their materials.

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It seems that many of them chose to compromise their standards and incorporate the misguided curriculum standards into their textbooks and supporting materials. The Texas Freedom Network (TFN) hired ten scholars in relevant fields to review the forty three proposed textbooks in history, geography, and government. [1] The full reports and a handy summary of the results from the TFN study can be found on their website (TFN). They found that many of the textbooks were misleading, inaccurate, and ideological. As one of the reviewers, Emile Lester, declared it is “[a] triumph of ideology over ideas.” However, they note that the problems in the textbooks “arise from the flawed and biased curriculum standards.” [2]

On November 21 the SBOE approved almost all of the social studies textbooks. But it is not all bad news. According to TFN, the biased depictions of Muslims, Affirmative Action, the Civil War, and climate science were corrected.

The bad news is that the misleading presentation of the role that Moses, and Christianity in general, played in the foundations of the US government remains in the textbooks. In his examination of seven textbooks, Emile Lester found that five “too often focused on controversial and vague claims backed by little or no discussion of evidence concerning the religious influences on the Founders.” [3] Here are some examples from the five problematic textbooks:

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