Campaign for Texas Textbook Accuracy 2018
In 2018, the Texas Coalition for Human Rights (TXCHR) initiated a campaign for Texas textbook accuracy. TXCHR, along with Texas and other academics, are pushing back against curricula that:
- Reflect a distorted view of history and the current situation
- Discourage understanding of the parties involved by not sharing their positions
- Promote fear and hatred through racial and xenophobic stereotypes
- Stifle students' knowledge thereby restricting their ability to solve world problems and make the world a better place
- Teach students to believe rather than to think
Who proposed changes to Texas curriculum?
On September 14, 2018, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) voted to change curriculum in Texas schools. This affects not only Texas schools, teachers and students, but also the other states and schools where textbooks designed to meet Texas requirements are used.
What changes concerned TXCHR members?
Our members have a number of concerns about the Proposed Revisions to 19 TAC Chapter 113, Subchapter C. This is the section on the proposed high school social studies curriculum. Our concerns include proposed changes and portions the SBOE chose not to change in the curriculum.
The proposed curriculum includes:
(13) History. The student understands the impact of major events associated with the Cold War and independence movements. The student is expected to:
(F) explain how Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict.
(14) History. The student understands the development of radical Islamic fundamentalism and the subsequent use of terrorism by some of its adherents. The student is expected to:
(A) summarize the development and impact of radical Islamic fundamentalism on events in the second half of the 20th century, including [
Palestinian] terrorism and the growth of terrorist groups [ al Qaeda] ; and
(B) explain the U.S. response to terrorism from September 11, 2001, to the present.
(24) Culture. The student understands how the development of ideas has influenced institutions and societies. The student is expected to:
(D) explain how developments in Islam influenced [
influences] law and government in the Muslim world such as secularism, nationalism, and fundamentalism.
We are also concerned about messaging in the curriculum which discriminates and further promotes racist and xenophobic stereotypes such as represented in Section 113.44 United States Government (c) (1) which includes:
History. ... The student is expected to:
(A) explain major political ideas in history, including the laws of nature and nature's God, unalienable rights, divine right of kings, social contract theory, and the rights of resistance to illegitimate government;
(B) identify major intellectual, philosophical, political, and religious traditions that informed the American founding, including Judeo-Christian (especially biblical law), English common law and constitutionalism, Enlightenment, and republicanism, as they address issues of liberty, rights, and responsibilities of individuals;
(C) identify the individuals whose principles of laws and government institutions informed the American founding documents, including those of Moses, William Blackstone, John Locke, and Charles de Montesquieu;
Why do we oppose these changes?
It is our view that the curriculum proposed by the SBOE, if adopted, would impair the accuracy of our teaching, textbooks and education, counter to our objective of equipping our children for their future.
TXCHR coalition members specifically oppose the curriculum above and others because they distort and do not sufficiently describe history in the Middle East and the causes of conflict.
More information on Curriculum for Israel/Palestine conflict
As Albert Einstein said:
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” (Albert Einstein)
The racist and xenophobic narrative in the history curriculum ignores and hides facts that students need to understand to be citizens of the world.
Students need to understand the common traits and differences of a number of the religions of the world. As Texas becomes more diverse and our population's religions reflect that fact, it is important for Texans to understand each other and be able to work together.
The curriculum appears to put Judeo-Christianity in a positive light, leaving out many other belief systems and casting a dark shadow over Islam.
More information on the Terrorism and Religion
What did we recommend?
We put together a listing of our specific concerns and recommendations. You can find them here.
What can you do? (Applicable until Nov. 12, 2018)
We welcome additional coalition partners and assistance in preparing public comment and testimony materials and participants. With that in mind you can:
- Submit a public comment on the SBOE web site
- Write an Op-Ed. See How
- Join us in Austin the week of November 12 to present testimony in front of the SBOE. Register Friday 11/9 or Monday 11/12. Instructions at Texas Education Agency
- Join TXCHR as a coalition member; email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Reach out to other organizations who you believe would also stand for improved accuracy and integrity in curriculum and textbooks
- Help us by sending out notices to others in your organizations to provide public comment!
How Did It Work Out?
Public testimonies were held on Tuesday November 13, 2018. Our coalition was represented in one testimony and coalition members and supporters also spoke on their behalf. The board voted on Friday November 16, 2018 to approve the revisions the board came to throughout the week.
We were pleased with the results. Although still discriminatory and biased, they more clearly address the needs of Texas students to research, evaluate multiple viewpoints and develop critical thinking. Click Here for more on the results.
What Is Next?
The Texas State Board of Education will go through the same process starting in 2023. In the mean time if you are interested in getting involved with Middle East messaging to our children, please email us at email@example.com.