In the minds of some of the “experts” who hold sway over the Texas public school textbooks, Joe McCarthy was an American hero, white men are responsible for civil rights, and “evolution is hooey.” Over the past 15 years, Washington Monthly reports that an activist bloc has methodically taken over the Texas State Board of Education, bent on injecting hard-right ideology into the state’s textbooks. According to these activists, the Founding Fathers never wanted a separation between church and state, and they’re doing their best to break down the wall by changing the schoolbooks in Texas.
The politicized textbooks would be a problem just inside Texas, but economic factors have given the state a huge influence over textbooks throughout the country. Unlike many other states, Texas makes the decisions on a state level on what books local school districts can buy. So when the state makes a decision on what books to purchase for its 4.7 million high schoolers, publishers take notice. The only bigger market for textbooks in the country is California, a state whose budget is in such disarray, it announced that it won’t be buying new books until 2014. In the meantime, an anonymous industry executive told Washington Monthly, “publishers will do whatever it takes to get on the Texas list,” even if that means caving in to right-wing activists.
In what’s already been a fearsome battle, the Texas State Board of Education is in the midst of its once-each-decade meeting to decide which books are purchased throughout the state. The Washington Monthly meticulously documented how conservative activists took over the meetings, forcing out moderates, accusing them of being pawns of the “radical homosexual lobby” and similar claims. With meetings taking place until March, the conservative activists are in prime position to push textbooks in Texas and throughout the country to the right. Don McLeroy, a particularly vocal activist on the state’s school board and a staunch advocate of teaching creationism in schools, told Washington Monthly, “Sometimes it boggles my mind the kind of power we have.”
You can watch a video of the school board's discussions below:
Source: Washington Monthly
Image by woodleywonderworks, licensed under Creative Commons.