Texas Adopts Disputed Textbooks

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The Texas Board of Education voted this month to adopt five controversial 7th-grade life-sciences textbooks, two of which had been rejected by the California Board of Education in September because of their "watered-down" treatment of evolution.

People for the American Way, a civil-liberties advocacy group, criticized all five of the texts on the grounds that they inadequately covered evolution.

"The board's action shows that proponents of 'creationism' still hold more sway than the testimony of numerous educators, scientists, and professors," said Anthony T. Podesta, president of pfaw

The board also rejected--but later, yielding to pressure, accepted--a high-school-level American history textbook that some board members had found politically biased. Also reversed was a unanimous decision to require publishers of American history books to identify the political affiliations of all public figures quoted in the texts.

The initial vote to reject the book Our Land, Our Times, which had been recommended by the state textbook committee, followed charges by the textbook critic Mel Gabler that the book was biased against the Republican Party. In addition, said observers, a board member charged that the book presented a negative view of the past 40 years of American history.

But after local press coverage of the votes and discussion by the full board on both issues, the board reversed both actions the following day.

According to Terry Anderson, a board spokesman, some 200 texts were approved, including books for high-school English language and composition, junior-high-school art, business management, journalism, and physics.

Local district committees select textbooks from among those approved by the board. Ms. Anderson said that districts will purchase an estimated $93-million worth of texts in the 1986-87 school year.--ab

Vol. 05, Issue 13

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