History in California Isn’t History in Texas, The New York Times Finds

Somehow the same textbooks are different when it comes to Texas and California.EXPAND
Somehow the same textbooks are different when it comes to Texas and California.
Getty Images
Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

Thousands of people, as we've reported and a few Texas politicians have lamented, come to North Texas from California every year. On arrival, they have to deal with the heat, higher property taxes and a political climate they may or may not welcome, but they get not having a state income tax, Tex-Mex and getting to watch Luka Doncic on a semi-nightly basis in the deal.

High school-aged kids making the Texas-to-California trek are in for an even bigger shock, according to a new report from The New York Times . Seemingly identical history textbooks sold to schools in the key states contain subtle, decidedly ideological differences, thanks to textbooks companies adhering to standards created by Texas and California education authorities.

Some of the highlights:

1. In a McGraw-Hill history textbook with Texas and California editions, the California version has a note in an annotated version of the Bill of Rights describing successful limits placed on gun rights. The Texas version of the text has no such explanation.

According to a statement given to the Times by McGraw-Hill, the national version of the book is closer to the Texas version.

2. As they read about white flight from cities to suburbs, students in California read the following sentence:

"Movement of some white Americans from cities to suburbs was driven by a desire to get away from more culturally diverse neighborhoods."

In Texas, there isn't the slightest hint that white people may have been trying to get away from black people:

"Some people wished to escape the crime and congestion of the city."

3. HMH textbooks sold to both states say that violations of "racial etiquette" led to post-Reconstruction lynchings. Only the California version of the book mentions that lynchings were intended to "discourage black political and economic power."

The California version of the book was published after the Texas one, for what that's worth.

4. The Texas McGraw-Hill text is pink-washed, the California version isn't.

In discussing federal policy regarding Native American groups, McGraw-Hill's California text mentions two-spirit people and the LGBTQ community. There is no similar mention in the Texas text.

5. While Texas textbooks mention women's fight against discrimination in the workplace, it omits one key factor.

As California students learn, widespread birth control use "allow(ed) women to exert greater control over their sexuality and family planning."

The hits, as you can read in the full NYT article, just keep on coming, whether it's a Texas textbook featuring what's essentially an op-ed from a Border Patrol agent or California textbooks emphasizing the roles that immigrants have played in American society.

If there's an upside to all this for Texas high school students it's that, as the Times notes, books from the Golden State are "almost always" longer than their Texas counterparts.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.