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Texas textbook war: 'Slavery' or 'Atlantic triangular trade'?

Changes to social studies textbooks in Texas proposed by conservatives have resulted in a partisan uproar and generated interest far beyond the Lone Star State.

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Protesters at a "Don't White-Out Our History" rally outside the building where the Texas State Board of Education was meeting Wednesday in Austin. Conservatives are pushing for changes in social studies textbooks.

Larry Kolvoord/Austin American-Statesman/AP

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Thomas Jefferson out, Phyllis Schlafly in?

While the proposed changes to Texas social studies standards aren’t quite so simple (and contrary to some reports, Thomas Jefferson would still be part of the curriculum), the debate over the standards pushed by a conservative majority of the Texas Board of Education – which will be voted on this week – has resulted in a partisan uproar and generated interest far beyond the Lone Star State.

Conservatives say that the changes are a long-overdue correction to a curriculum that too often deemphasizes religion and caters to liberal views. Critics are dismayed at what they see as an attempt to push conservative ideology – even if it flies in the face of scholarship – into textbooks. And with a textbook industry that is often influenced by the standards in the largest states, there is a chance that the changes have influence beyond Texas.

“Decisions that are made in Texas have a ripple effect across the country,” says Phillip VanFossen, head of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and a professor of social studies education at Purdue University.

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