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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

By Kiah Collier, Austin American-Statesman (TNS)

AUSTIN, Texas — With many members vowing to improve what they described as a flawed textbook adoption process, Texas’ 15-member State Board of Education on Friday voted along party lines to adopt social studies textbooks and e-books that academics and members of the public from across the political spectrum say still include some biases and inaccuracies.

In a 10-5 vote, with all Republican members voting yes and all five Democrats voting no, the elected education board approved nearly 100 new social studies instructional materials for the first time in a dozen years. The board took separate votes on social studies instructional materials by two other publishers, rejecting six items by WorldView Software and approving one sixth-grade social studies e-book by Discovery Education Inc.

The board on Friday also adopted hundreds of other instructional materials for high school mathematics and fine arts courses. All materials will be used for at least six years, probably longer, and will begin appearing in classrooms next fall.

After a second round of public comment on the social studies materials at a hearing Tuesday, where a preliminary vote to approve them failed, publishers scrambled to make changes to the texts and submitted hundreds of alterations as late as Friday morning.

Many board members on Friday lamented the fact they hadn’t had time to review all the changes before voting on them, joking that they had been out late the night before celebrating outgoing member Mavis Knight, a Democrat from Dallas.

Ultimately, however, Republican members said they thought it was better to vote and fix the process for next time while Democrats described it as irresponsible.

Member Ruben Cortez Jr., a Democrat, made a motion to postpone the vote until a Dec. 1 special meeting to give the board — and the public — more time to review the changes, but the vote failed.

In a separate vote, the board voted to accept all changes publishers submitted up until 5 p.m. on Thursday. They also voted to review any changes submitted after that deadline and their next meetings in February.

One publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, caused a stir Friday when it withdrew its high school U.S. government textbook from consideration before the board meeting began.

In a statement, the publisher said it did so because the book is part of a national program and “acknowledges that this content does not meet 100 percent of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards.”

The happy face in the room Friday was a representative from the Sikh community, which has applauded the board for including the Sikh religion in textbooks for the first time and working with board members to correct more than 50 “historical inaccuracies related to the Sikh faith.”

“At first glance, this decision might appear trivial, but for the Sikh American community, this vote is a monumental victory in the ongoing effort to reduce ignorance, discrimination, and violence that has dramatically increased in the years since 9/11,” the Sikh Coalition said in a statement released after the vote.

The board on Friday also gave final approval to a five-item wish list for consideration by the Texas Legislature, including more than $800 million in additional funding for textbooks.

Photo: Bill & Heather Jones via Flickr

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14 responses to “Texas Panel Approves Controversial Textbooks Over Democrats’ Concerns”

  1. ericlipps says:

    Many board members on Friday lamented the fact they hadn’t had time to review all the changes before voting on them. . . .

    Ultimately, however, Republican members said they thought it was better to vote and fix the process for next time while Democrats described it as irresponsible.

    Member Ruben Cortez Jr., a Democrat, made a motion to postpone the vote until a Dec. 1 special meeting to give the board — and the public — more time to review the changes, but the vote failed.

    In other words, we don’t know what the hell we’re voting on, but let’s do it anyhow. Ah, Texas!

  2. Robert Endl says:

    The Texans are learning from the best…the Chinese.

    • sleepvark says:

      Robert, the Chinese? I dislike Texas as much as anyone. I’ve gone to school in Texas. I have also gone to school in China. I can assure you, I saw nothing in China as blatantly biased as what I’ve seen in Texas. China is a repository of enlightenment in comparison to Texas, and any other red state for that matter. I am familiar with many of the problems in the system over there, but I would still much rather have my kids in the Chinese educational system than in anything in Texas.

  3. bckrd1 says:

    The Kochs win again.

  4. Tony Torres says:

    Yeah make texas kids grow up as dumb asses as their parents. Sometimes I think it would be better if Texas left the union like they have threaten before, we should let them go. I really don’t understand why anyone would live in Texas unless of course if you are white, then you would be up to your neck in Bullshit. What a waste.

    • rogerscorpion says:

      It isn’t JUST Texas kids. Due to the fact that Texas buys more textbooks than any other state (Cali being next), the publishers tailor their books to suit the majority. I live in TX, btw.

  5. arlineo says:

    The DUMBING DOWN of America, how VILE! Surely, this subject should be treated with the gravitas necessary to ensure that the future of this country will not be endangered because of the lack of foresight exhibited by those responsible for rewriting text books to suit their own philosophies, while ignoring science and historical truth.

  6. Jambi says:

    These Conservative Clowns think they can modify history to favor their religious and political ideology…it WILL backfire…as a High School U.S. History teacher, I can assure you that most students see through this….They prefer the TRUTH over religious Mumbo-Jumbo Bullshit and political opinions…They’re much smarter than the “dictators of propaganda” we have editing our textbooks….

    • Number10 GI says:

      I agree that ‘most students see through this’ and ‘ prefer the truth’ but why does each new generation in Texas adopt their parents’ racist, mean-spirited attitudes?

  7. Swo Ford says:

    Today’s liberalism is little more than an ever-shifting mirage of illusions conjured up to hide the ideological beast of marxism.

  8. Number10 GI says:

    Just more evidence Texas should be encouraged to leave the union.

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