Hey, Texas, don't mess with textbooks: Public schools are no place for partisan agendas
Former board member Don McLeroy is a dentist and a self-avowed Christian fundamentalist who openly states how his religious values guide his crusade to adjust textbooks. Mr. McLeroy, the most influential conservative involved in the curriculum changes, is well known for his extreme statements dismissing evidence of evolution in debates about Darwinism last year. This year, he candidly discussed how he applies direct pressure to textbook companies in a New York Times article, “How Christian Were the Founders?”
McLeroy’s sway with education standards highlights another unsettling fact: Unlike the trained teachers who wrote the original social studies guidelines, the board members revising the curriculum lack the qualifications necessary to shape classroom guidelines.
Educators are alarmed not only because the Texas curriculum guidelines were made by unqualified sources, but also because the changes to standards in
Texas affect textbooks across the country. Texas’ $22 billion education fund is among the nation’s largest educational endowments in the country, which definitively influences how educational publishers tailor their products to fit other states.
“This issue is bigger than Texas,” said an Ohio State University professor in a discussion thread with other NCSS members. “To have politicians rewriting history to suit their view of the world is about as anti-social studies as I can imagine. Reminds me of social studies when I worked in Malawi under the one-man rule of Hastings Banda.”
Efforts to include Latinos in the social studies curriculum were repeatedly defeated, despite the significant Hispanic population in Texas.