On November 18, 2015, the Texas State Board of Education voted 8-7 against a plan to create a group of state university professors to review Texas schoolchildren’s textbooks for factual errors. As the Dallas News reports:
The push for more experts to be involved came after more than a year of controversy over board-sanctioned books’ coverage of global warming, descriptions of Islamic history and terrorism and handling of the Civil War and the importance of Moses and the Ten Commandments to the founding fathers.”
Last month, further controversy arose after the discovery that a newly approved geography text described African slaves forcibly brought to North America as “workers.”
Because Texas is one of the largest textbook purchasers in the nation, decisions it makes on content strongly influences books marketed in other states. Critics charge that the elected board members have politicized selection of textbook content.
As the Dallas News reports, some of the content approved by the board last year has been deemed of questionable veracity:
One [statement] was that Moses was much on the Founders’ minds when they wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and that the Old Testament provided the roots of Western democracy. Others objected to a world history book’s mostly positive coverage of former Communist leaders Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong of China.”
Although school districts in Texas are free to choose whatever books they want to use, most adhere to the list adopted by the state board; it tracks the curriculum standards as well as questions asked on state achievement tests, and is undoubtedly less expensive because of the volume of texts produced.