An Ugly Texas Textbook Tango Continues

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In 1658, Rembrandt painted Moses smashing tablets of the law. In 2014, Texas State Board of Education members are debating whether he influenced the United States' founding fathers in a way that merits mention in the Lone Star State's U.S. history curriculum. - REMBRANDT
  • Rembrandt
  • In 1658, Rembrandt painted Moses smashing tablets of the law. In 2014, Texas State Board of Education members are debating whether he influenced the United States' founding fathers in a way that merits mention in the Lone Star State's U.S. history curriculum.

To the embarrassment of reasonable Texans everywhere, the State Board of Education failed to gain preliminary approval of nearly 100 social studies textbooks because there is a contentious argument whether Moses influenced the United States' founding fathers.

Or because jihad, climate change and other out-of-this world concerns that would probably leave some of the students set to receive the textbooks shaking their heads, wondering whether recess time will be affected.

The Texas Tribune reported on the madness.

"The board heard more than four hours of public testimony, much focusing on a 469-page report submitted by the Truth in Texas Textbooks Coalition in late October. Formed by retired Lt. Col. Roy White, a San Antonio-based Tea Party activist, the report identified instances of what White called “pro-Islam and anti-Christian” biases and errors in the books," the Texas Tribune story states.

Sigh.

Both Republicans and Democrats have criticized the textbooks, with right-wing minded folks complaining that Islam isn't portrayed harshly enough, that global warming isn't a fact and should be taught alongside creationism so the kiddos get the "full" perspective and also because of "common core" national education standards, which Lone Star State lawmakers banned last year.

As for left-wing leaning folks, they are critical that one history book says Moses was a direct influence on the founding fathers and that the textbooks contained watered-down versions of global warming that downplay the fact that leading scientists accept accelerated climate change as true.

And the publishers, well, they've admitted to factual errors and have corrected those errors, but not to the satisfaction of some critics, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Maybe the biggest educational opportunity in this whole debate is that educators and publishers should keep politics out of education and focus on developing students who can think critically on their own, without being steered by bipartisan bickering.

The final vote is Friday.




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