STAFF EDITORIAL | The Texas State Board of Education dictating revisionist history as an educational standard undermines our future

The Texas State Board of Education has a long record of attempts to butcher American history. In its latest proclamation limiting references to Islam in high school textbooks, it seems the board is now taking aim at world history as well.

The resolution, approved Sept. 24, aims to curtail what the conservative board sees as a ‘pro-Islamic’ slant in world history textbooks. Because the board is not allowed to discuss books currently in use, the nonbinding resolution cites old Texas social studies books as sources for their concern.

While Texas pushing a conservative Christian agenda, even in schools, does not come as a surprise, the clout the state can exercise over national textbook publication is a cause for concern.

With 4.8 million students, Texas has the second largest market in the country behind California. The desire to sell to Texas schools often dictates the content of new textbooks, and thus the content of social studies courses nationwide.

We at The Butler Collegian find the blatantly biased agenda of the Texas State Board of Education disgraceful and the board’s ability to impact the education of American children is a detriment.

The “Resolution on Democratic Values in Social Studies Textbooks” says “diverse reviewers have repeatedly documented gross pro-Islamic/anti-Christian distortions” in old textbooks. One of the offending texts devoted 248 lines to beliefs, practices and writings of Islam, but only 120 to those of Christianity.

Never mind that the book “World History: Patterns of Interaction” was published in 1999.

The resolution cites Texas administrative code that allows for the rejection of texts that conflict with the purpose of the Texas Education Code in a conclusion that can be seen as nothing less than a threat to publishers: “The [Texas State Board of Education] will reject future prejudicial Social Studies submissions that so offend Texas law.”

As stated in the Texas Code of education, the mission of the public education system of this state is to “ensure that all Texas children have access to a quality education that enables them to achieve their potential and fully participate now and in the future in the social, economic and educational opportunities of our state and nation.”

We didn’t realize that erasing an important part of world history, Islam, and injecting Christian beliefs was a necessity for participation in our nation. We certainly don’t find it to make a person more successful. In fact, it sounds more to us at The Butler Collegian like a violation of our Constitution that guarantees freedom of religion and a separation of church and state.

But this isn’t the first time that Texas has tried to rewrite history for America’s children. The board has repeatedly voted to downplay the importance of figures like Thomas Jefferson and Thurgood Marshall and include more Newt Gingrich and Ronald Reagan. They have also called into question the validity of the separation of church and state.

While not all of these contentions have made it through voting, and an uproar of protests from educators around the world, Texas has made nearly 100 revisions to the social studies curriculum since January and has slowly but surely pushed a Christian agenda on textbook publishers.

What does this mean the children who will ultimately be affected by these changes?

If Texas continues to hijack the reading materials of America’s children, students will enter college, and the world, with an incorrect view of the history of our country as well as the rest of the globe.

It is disturbing that one conservative state board  has this great of an influence on something grounded in fact. History shouldn’t be malleable and making it so gives today’s children, our future, the wrong impression of not only American history, but world history.

Without knowledge of history, is our nation doomed to let the atrocities of its past repeat themselves? How can we learn from our past if we don’t know what that is?

The Texas State Board of Education needs to be stopped.

Their ability to dictate what children will and will not learn in school is an abomination. Texas is using and abusing their position to change what students will learn in school and degrade a new generation of students.

Texas’ curriculum will not be voted on for another 10 years, so, for the next decade, American children are going to be routinely misinformed about the history of the nation.

While technological advances in publishing have made it easier for textbook publishers to make changes for smaller markets, books approved by Texas will continue to be affordable options.

We’re about to find out how much a good education is really worth and we at The Butler Collegian are afraid to find out.

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