Texas textbook controversy- Analysis
Eastern New Mexico University
CI 531 1WW
March 3, 2013-
Ever since the 1960s, the Texas textbook controversy has had an issue in America. The Texas school board is meeting to make revisions to their textbooks and curriculum. But are they also revising history? Educators across the country are watching to see the effect this issue will have on students. The choices the board members are making will affect politics, religion, monies spent thru-out the Texas school system. Christian conservatives on the state education board want curriculum changes. Parents and student would like the curriculum to remain the same, or not be so drastic. This analysis will show how, what, when and why the Texas Board members want the History of textbooks to be changed.
What does the history of Texas have to do with Textbooks?
Texas State Board of Education members Cynthia Dunbar, Barbara Cargill, and Gail Lowe discussing curriculum standards, Austin, May 2008. Cargill, who was appointed chairwoman last year by Governor Rick Perry, has expressed concern that there are now only ‘six true conservative Christians on the board.’ “What happens in Texas doesn’t stay in Texas when it comes to textbooks: ”No matter where you live, if your children go to public schools, the textbooks they use were very possibly written under Texas influence. If they graduated with a reflexive suspicion of the concept of separation of church and state and an unexpected interest in the contributions of the National Rifle Association to American history, you know who to blame. When it comes to meddling with school textbooks, Texas is both similar to other states and totally different. It’s hardly the only one that likes to fiddle around with the material its kids study in class. The difference is due to size—4.8 million textbook-reading schoolchildren as of 2011—and the peculiarities of its system of government, in which the State Board of Education is selected in elections that are practically devoid of voters, and wealthy donors can chip in unlimited amounts of money to help their favorites win. Those favorites are not shrinking violets. In 2009, the nation watched in awe as the state board worked on approving a new science curriculum under the leadership of a chair who believed that “evolution is hooey.” In 2010, the subject was social studies and the teachers tasked with drawing up course guidelines were supposed to work in consultation with “experts” added on by the board, one of whom believed that the income tax was contrary to the word of God in the scriptures. Ever since the 1960s, the selection of schoolbooks in Texas has been a target for the religious right, which worried that schoolchildren were being indoctrinated in godless secularism, and political conservatives who felt that their kids were being given way too much propaganda about the positive aspects of the federal government. Mel Gabler, an oil company clerk, and his wife, Norma, who began their textbook crusade at their kitchen table, were the leaders of the first wave. They brought their supporters to State Board of Education meetings, unrolling their “scroll of shame,” which listed objections they had to the content of the current reading material. At times, the scroll was fifty-four feet long. Products of the Texas school system have the Gablers to thank for the fact that
at one point the New Deal was axed from the timeline of significant events in American history. Who approves textbooks in Texas?
The Texas State Board of Education, which approves textbooks, curriculum standards, and supplemental materials for the public schools, has fifteen members from fifteen districts whose boundaries don’t conform to congressional districts, or really anything whatsoever. They run in staggered elections that are frequently held in off years, when always-low Texas turnout is...