Professors Object to Texas Textbook Standards

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The Texas textbook fiasco continues to spark controversy. An article by Kate Alexander at the Austin American-Statesman reveals that:

About 800 college history professors from across the country have so far signed on to a letter circulated this week by seven academics from the University of Texas campuses in Austin and El Paso.

The letter says that some board revisions undermine “the study of the social sciences in our public schools by misrepresenting and even distorting the historical record and the functioning of American society.”

Most of the professors who endorsed the letter are from Texas schools, though there are signatories from around the country.

The textbook standards, which replaced “capitalism” in economics textbooks with “the free-enterprise system,” require students to know about Phyllis Schlafly and the Contract with America, removed Thomas Jefferson from a discussion about the political influences of the Enlightenment, and apparently defends McCarthyism in places, are scheduled to be formally approved next month.

The letter calls upon Texas to “delay the final adoption of social studies curriculum standards” and allow a new panel to “review changes that the Board has made and prepare a new draft of the standards that is fair, accurate and balanced.”

Don McLeroy, former chairman of the Texas Board of Education, wrote earlier this week in an editorial in USA Today that the standards have attracted a great deal of attention because,

The proposed changes have attracted national attention because they challenge the powerful ideology of the left and highlight the great political divide of our country. The left’s principles are diametrically opposed to our founding principles. The left believes in big, not limited, government; they empower the state, not the individual; they focus on differences, not unity.

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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