Textbooks Too Pro-Islam, Anti-Christian, Texas State Education Board Rules

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The debate over the textbooks is fresh on the heels of the board's recent controversy over the entire social studies curriculum.

In May, the board approved new standards that call for greater emphasis on Biblical references and the Christian traditions of the founding fathers as well as on noted Republican leaders including Ronald Reagan and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Texas Freedom Network spokesman Dan Quinn said that just the debate about the textbooks is "yet another black eye" for the state of Texas.

"It's been one culture war after another on this board," he said. "Once you attack one religion, you have to be wary. What are they going to go after next?"

Texas Education Leader Says Textbook Debate is 'Message to the Publishers'

The musings of the Texas School Board of Education are closely watched by educators and administrators across the country. Because the state purchases textbooks in bulk for its nearly 5 million students, industry publishers often will write to their preferences given that most other states allow individual districts to purchase textbooks on their own.

Though the resolution wouldn't affect any immediate changes in Texas school, Lowe said she knew the industry was watching.

"It would be a message to the publishers that we are looking for balanced religious treatment," she said. "I guess it sort of tells them on the front end this is what we're looking for."

California, the nation's largest textbook purchaser, has a bill pending specifically to keep watch for any Texas-related content before ordering its own textbooks.

The most recent Texas resolution is unusual, Lowe noted, in that it was not offered up by a sitting member of the board.

"This has been the only time that a member of the public has come before us to offer a resolution," she said. "I had four board members who expressed interest in discussing it further."

The proposal came from one-time school board candidate Randy Rives, who Quinn identified as a member of the same social Conservative network that controls the board. The language of the resolution, Lowe said, is Rives' own and has not been altered.

He uses words such as "tainted," "false editorial stereotypes" and "whitewashes" in describing the current content of the books in Texas schools and wrote that "more such discriminatory treatment of religion may occur as Middle Easterners buy into the U.S. public school textbook oligopoly."

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