Fate of Controversial Texas Social Studies Textbooks Still Unsure

By Liana Loewus — November 20, 2014 1 min read
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The Texas state board of education did not grant preliminary approval for the series of social studies textbooks it was considering, which both liberal and conservative groups have alleged contain distortions.

According to the Associated Press, the board attempted to approve nearly 100 textbooks on Nov. 19, but the vote failed 5-4, with four abstentions. The vote was split cleanly across party lines, with the five Democrats on the board voting against approval.

In September, academics comissioned by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, a left-learning organization that advocates for separation of church and state, reviewed about half of those textbooks and concluded that they made claims based on ideology and “unsupported by historical facts.” For instance, they said that one book gave “an exaggerated impression” of Moses’ influence on the founders of the United States.

A conservative group known as Truth in Texas Textbooks has also come out against the books, saying they are too pro-Islam and anti-Christian, according to the Texas Tribune.

However, none of that is what sunk the vote, the Tribune reports. Instead board members were concerned that at least one publisher’s online supplementary materials mentioned the Common Core State Standards. Texas is one of just four states that never adopted the common standards for English/language arts and mathematics. Four board members abstained from voting in case publishers were still making changes to the texts.

The final vote will be held tomorrow, Nov. 21. If the board does not approve the books then, it will miss the deadline to get the texts to students for September 2015.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.