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Hey, Texas, don't mess with textbooks: Public schools are no place for partisan agendas

Texas conservatives want to cut Thomas Jefferson, César Chávez, Edward Kennedy, and other 'liberals' from textbooks.

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Battles over school curricula are not new. Now, it’s not just Darwin that’s the issue. If the far-right Republican majority on the Texas Board of Education has its way, many of the 48 million textbooks it buys per year, for 10 years, will represent a Republican partisan agenda and a new emphasis on Christian beliefs.

On March 12, the board gave preliminary approval to more than 100 such amendments, which skew public school curriculum and rewrite US history from a conservative perspective.

But the purpose of a public school's curriculum is not to push one particular viewpoint. According to the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS), an effective social studies curriculum should provide students with an understanding of the multiple forces that affect civic issues throughout history, in order to create a base from which citizens can contribute to democracy.

“I do believe there are board members on the ultraright who have an agenda,” said Judy Brodigan, an educator who contributed to the social studies curriculum guidelines. “Our job is not to take a viewpoint. It’s to present sides fairly.”

After the Texas Board of Education deleted certain figures – such as Thomas Jefferson, César Chávez, and Edward Kennedy – from the state’s curriculum, the Christian conservatives on the board succeeded in emphasizing what they perceive as Christianity’s role in our nation’s founding.

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