Texas Just Can’t Do the Right Thing With Textbooks

Texas, the state responsible for so much of America’s weirdly conservative textbook selection options, recently decided that maybe it was time to fix this problem, so as to avoid further incidents where it earned the world’s horror and ridicule for doing things like referring to American slaves as “workers.” And then it figured out that doing the right thing would just be too hard.

Laura Moser writes at Slate about the latest developments:

At… [a] meeting on Wednesday, the board did approve increasing public participation in the textbook-review process and holding publishers accountable for errors.

But in a close 8-7 vote, the Texas State Board of Education rejected a proposed amendment that would’ve empowered it to create an expert panel of academics charged with catching the type of embarrassing inaccuracies and omissions that keep getting the state in so much trouble. (See also: the “pro-Muslim” bias, the influence of the Ten Commandments on the composition of the Constitution, and of course the “side issue” of slavery in the Civil War.)

The current review panel is just a group of regular citizens, who don’t have to be content experts or even, well, sane.


And thus, nothing meaningful will change. It’s not even entirely clear that under the new standard textbook publishers would have had to correct that “workers” thing, because while characterizing African slaves as workers is offensive and misleading, it’s not technically factually inaccurate. They were working. They just didn’t get paid to work.

According to the Slate piece the reason the Board of Education decided not to fix the problem was that

One opponent of the proposal said that bringing academics into the process would be an insult to the volunteer reviewers, according to a report in the Dallas Morning News: “I don’t want to send a message that … we feel the college people are more important,” board member Geraldine “Tincy” Miller said. “I don’t want that.”

Right, because there’s no reason to think the volunteer review process isn’t working or including some “college people” might help things.

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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