Everything is bigger in Texas, including the drama. Last September emotions went wild in the Texas State Board of Education meetings when board members reviewed textbooks by publishers that contained an unprecedented amount of revisionism and flat-out inaccuracies. Publishers included within this barrage of misinformation included McGraw Hill, Cengage Learning, Discovery Education, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Pearson, and Learning Worldview Software.
The motivations behind the revisionism is transparent as day, The TSBOE has a very flawed and biased view of what they deem as history and sciences and expect publishers to conform to their perceptions of history. The problem is that some of these errors could be seen and identified by any student who paid attention in history class 4-5 years ago.
What is perhaps most unsettling and disturbing about these inclusions were the thin lines between religious preference and respect for fact that ran rampant throughout the publisher’s pages. Biases were reflected through false comparisons between religious figures and perspectives with ones that were pro-democracy and led to the founding of our country. An example includes an excerpt from a Pearson text which misleadingly reads that the “roots of democratic government” could be found in “Judeo-Christian Philosophy”, but does not include any models or examples within the Bible to support this claim. Other concerning mentions were the misinterpretations and negligent characterizations of Islam, which blurred the lines between ignorance and fear-mongering. The full 57 page report by Associate Professor Emile Lester PhD for the Texas Freedom Network contains even more specific and troubling examples of negligent and inaccurate historical characterizations which can be accessed by a simple Google search.
As a citizenry and as a state of parents, Texas deserves better than to allow the facts history and science to be manipulated by influential ideologues who hold publishers hostage; and on that same note, shame should be casted on the textbook publishers who lend credence to unqualified historical and scientific doubt. It’s times like these that I’m grateful for the history books I kept in middle through high school, so that I can remember times where publishers didn’t censor themselves so heavily before, and when history was much more enlightening to read…back when it had a backbone.
An edited version of this article appeared in the Texas State University Newspaper, The University Star.