On Tuesday, the State Board of Education met for the final hearing on the adoption of new social studies textbooks. The board intended to cast the first vote on the textbooks, with the final vote scheduled for Friday. But after hours of impassioned testimony from both the right and the left, the board postponed any official action on the books until Friday.
The adoption process has been riddled with controversy. Critics were quick to point out that certain passages that alluded to climate change denialism. Moreover, many textbooks emphasized Christianity and Christian theology as not only the dominant religion in the United States, but implicitly the superior religion. Several books were plagued with misinformation and sloppy rhetoric.
Since the initial public testimony and outcry of criticism, the books have been improved. In a last-minute announcement on Monday, textbook publishers said they would revise the passages on climate change. Several allusions to inherent violence in Islam have been eliminated, as well as passages that downplayed the legacy of slavery.
Yet at the hearing on Tuesday, controversy and criticism remained. Textbooks still exaggerate the role of Judeo-Christian tradition throughout American history, and some passages still convey misinformation: For one, certain biblical figures, as well as "Judeo-Christian legal tradition" are listed as an influence on American founding documents.
Rumors are circulating that board members are still negotiating behind closed doors with textbook publishers. "It wouldn't be a Texas textbook adoption without a flurry of last-minute objections from board members and political activists without any expertise on the subject at hand," Kathy Miller, Texas Freedom Network president, said in a statement.
"On issues like bashing Islam and questioning the existence of global warming, we heard a lot of personal and political opinions but no actual facts that would justify revising what the textbooks currently say on those subjects." The board has between now and Friday to negotiate any changes.
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