Textbooks for Conservatives


In the January/February issue of the magazine, Washington Monthly Editor Mariah Blake wrote about the role that conservatives on the Texas State Board of Education have on textbooks across the United States. Because of the size of the Texas schoolbook market, the fights between moderates and conservatives (it’s arguable but there don’t really seem to be any “liberals” on the Texas Education Board) over textbook content ultimately determine what appears in textbooks everywhere.

Well the moderates have lost this round. According to an article by James C. McKinley Jr. in the New York Times:

the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks.

In recent years, board members have been locked in an ideological battle between a bloc of conservatives who question Darwin’s theory of evolution and believe the Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles, and a handful of Democrats and moderate Republicans who have fought to preserve the teaching of Darwinism and the separation of church and state.

“We are adding balance,” said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”

Well, about those academics. According to a piece that appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 2008, 95 percent of Texas biology professors believe evolution should be the only life-origin theory taught in public schools.

The board has also apparently decided to replace every single use of the word “capitalism” in economics textbooks with “the free-enterprise system.”

The standards are now open for 30 days of public comment at the Texas Register. The board will make its final vote in May.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer