State Board of Education Embarrasses Texas Again

Some of you might have seen over the weekend a Facebook post — now gone viral — from a Houston mom who was shocked to see the Atlantic slave trade portrayed as a “migration” of “workers” from Africa in a new high school geography textbook. That textbook is one of scores of social studies textbooks adopted by the Texas State Board of Education last fall. The textbooks went into classrooms at the beginning of the current school year.

Over the weekend publisher McGraw-Hill acknowledged that the textbook passage about the African slave trade passage was misleading and said it would immediately move to correct it. Various news outlets have been reporting about this newest controversy involving Texas textbooks — another black eye for Texas.

We just sent out the following press release:

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller responded today to reports about how a new high school geography textbook mischaracterizes the slave trade as simply a migration of workers in American history:

“First of all, we are encouraged that the publisher is correcting this passage downplaying the history of slavery in the United States. But it’s no accident that this happened in Texas. We have a textbook adoption process that’s so politicized and so flawed that it’s become almost a punch line for comedians. The truth is that too many elected officials who oversee that process are less interested in accurate, fact-based textbooks than they are in promoting their own political views in our kids’ classrooms. So when they review these textbooks, they don’t even recognize distortions that mislead students and that drive scholars nuts.”

Miller’s comments come after publisher McGraw-Hill Education said that it will revise a passage in its new geography textbook that discusses migration in American history. The problematic passage refers to African slaves brought to North America between the 1500s and 1800s simply as “workers.” In fact, they were abducted and brought forcibly to the Americas as slaves.

How We Got Here
The new Texas textbooks are based on very controversial curriculum standards adopted by the State Board of Education in 2010. Even the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute, in a 2011 report, criticized those standards as a “politicized distortion of history.” The report noted that the standards downplay difficult topics like slavery and segregation while dismissing the history of separation of church and state and wildly exaggerating – even inventing – Biblical influences on the American founding.

Publishers submitted their new geography and other social studies textbooks based on those standards in 2014. University scholars the Texas Freedom Network worked with last year found that the history textbooks actually do a much better job handling the issue of slavery than the curriculum standards do. But even discussions of that topic get muddied at times.

Even more problematic, however, are textbook passages that suggest Moses and the Old Testament were major influences in the writing of the U.S. Constitution and on democratic political and legal traditions. Members of the State Board of Education had insisted, over the strenuous objections of constitutional scholars and historians, that such contentions be included in the curriculum standards and, subsequently, the new textbooks.

Those new textbooks went into Texas classrooms this fall. Because of the size of the textbook market here, publishers historically have written their textbooks to conform to the Texas curriculum standards and then sold those textbooks – revised as little as possible – in other states around the country.

Link to Fordham’s 2011 report on the curriculum standards:

The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots public education watchdog based in Austin.

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  • Beverly Margolis says:

    For some reason or another I had said that Scientologists said that mental illness is not real. My spell checker changed it to Entomologists said that. I should have double checked what I sent.
    It does not change the fact that Abbott is accepting Cults to tell him what is and what isn’t. IMPEACH the idiot, now.

  • Beverly Margolis says:

    Just when I thought that the backward SBOE had reached its maximum idioticy, this comes along.
    I am ashamed to be a Texan. If I could afford it I’d move to Oregon, one of the bluest states around.
    How the TEAliban (GOP)manages to take over the SBOE time after time is a wonder to me. It makes me physically ill to read some of the garbage they come up. They still do not realize that this is a SECULAR nation. Keep God OUT OF THE SCHOOLS!
    Nobody has the right to shove their mistaken theology down other’s throats.
    I am not a Christian. When I started school the Japanese had just formally signed the peace accord with us.
    But I was FORCED to say the “Lord’s prayer.” That so-called prayer is NOT what Jesus was saying, he gave them the outline of how to pray. But back then there was NO FREEDOM OF RELIGION.
    My Hebrew books that I took to Hebrew school after secular school was torn up, flushed down a toilet, burned, and had feces smeared between the pages. They were blaming Jews for their parents dying in WWII. They supposedly were dying ONLY to free the Jews.
    That was BS then and it is still BS.
    All of my uncles fought, some in the Navy others in the Army. And what did they do? They were cursed, spit on, beaten up just for the crime of being a Jew.
    Now the jackasses want to say that the slaves were brought her as “workers?” Workers get paid, the slaves were not paid a cent.
    I was raised in New England where I was told to call “colored people” sir and ma’am. Many who had come from the south were astonished when we showed them the courtesy they deserved. Many in New England were jerks, but I’ve never forgotten the lessons my parents taught me.
    I got transferred to Texas with a company I worked for. Governor Brisco was the governor back then and Texas was blue. Now it might as well be run by the morons that make me ashamed to be here.
    Our governor was told by ENTOMOLOGISTS that mental health didn’t exist, so he refused to sign a bill that would have given more money for funding mental health facilities and research.
    The TEAliban (GOP) want to make us all slaves to their moronic ideas. We MUST RECALL Abbott. I don’t know how to do it, but I hope SOMEONE will star the campaign to throw the idiot OUT. I’ll work hard to accomplish that decent goal.
    The SBOE also needs to be tossed into a garbage pit where they belong. Then people wonder why I’m so damned angered all the time.

    • jim kennedy says:

      If what Beverly writes is true, she is proof of why there is a severe need for more funding for mental health facilities and research. The least they could do would be remove her ankle bracelet and allow her to return to one of the blue states. I would suggest San Francisco or one of the other sanctuary cities in California.

  • Jim Ramsey says:

    There’s a quote from Heinlein’s “Citizen of the Galaxy” that has stuck with me.

    “I still have trouble believing there is such a thing as slavery.”
    He shrugged. “Ten lashes will convince anybody.”
    “Thor! You don’t mean they whipped you?”
    “I don’t remember clearly. But the scars are on my back.”

  • Charles says:

    I can see the new chair person of the Texas SBOE saying:

    “The American people just have to understand that the people of Texas, in their righteous will as citizens of the great Lone Star State, have chosen to have elected politicians as the members of the SBOE so the will of the majority of Texas citizens and their beliefs and values will be incorporated into the education of their children.”

    I think what most of the American people are saying is:

    “Frankly, We do not give a damn. It is just plain WRONG to turn any state’s educational system into a highly controversial political football that has become the laughingstock of the nation and a big part of the world.”

    I live in Tennessee—and that is how I feel about it. Tennessee school teacher Sam Houston would have been ashamed of the moron who made the Texas SBOE into an elected body.

  • Amazed says:

    Sounds like David Barton is at it.

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