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Texas School Board Adds Conservative Views, Historical Inaccuracy to Textbooks?

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Bethany Sanders: "Don't mess with Texas," the saying goes -- but California has a different message for the Lone Star State: "Don't mess with history!"

That's after the conservative Texas School Board proposed changes to its social studies curriculum that some say not only have a strong conservative bent, but are also historically inaccurate and ignore the contributions of African-Americans and Hispanics. Here are some of the proposed changes, which will be voted on this week:

  • The slave trade will be renamed the "Atlantic triangular trade."
  • Thomas Jefferson will take a backseat (thanks to his efforts to separate church and state) and an emphasis will be placed on the Founding Fathers' guiding Christian values.
  • Sen. Joseph McCarthy -- who used Communism charges to attack American citizens --will be painted in a more positive light.
  • Conservative groups and ideas --such as the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association -- will be promoted as part of a celebration of the conservative resurgence of the '80s and '90s. (The TexasSchool Board says this addition was created in order to balance out leftist political ideas such as the New Deal.)
  • Students will be taught the "unintended consequences" of affirmative action and Title IX.

The vote in Texas is important, because those curriculum changes could affect textbooks across the nation. Traditionally, the states that buy the most textbooks hold sway over publishers and the content that makes it into the textbooks. But according to Jay Diskey, executive director of the schools division of the Association of American Publishers, that's no longer the case. "It's an urban myth, especially in this digital age we live in, that content can be tailored and customized for individual states and school districts," he told

Even so, California isn't taking any chances. Calling the Texas Board's curriculum changes "a sharp departure from widely accepted historical teachings," a new California bill (SB1451) would require that reviews of public school textbooks include looking out for the Texas changes and reporting them to the Legislature and the Secretary of Education.

It seems simple enough: Social studies should just be about the facts -- a balanced reporting on the forces that have shaped our country. But as we've seen in the fight between evolution and creationism, even biology class somehow ends up in the political arena.

As a parent, are you concerned that politics could play a heavy hand in your child's history education?


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