Remember That Great Texas Textbook Debate? Wait Till You See The Books.
September 11, 2014

Remember the Great Texas Textbook Debate?

Yeah, four years later they've arrived, along with reviews by independent organizations who have some serious issues with their content. Here are some of the highlights from the Texas Freedom Network. A meeting is scheduled on September 16th for the Texas State Board of Education to adopt these texts. Have a peek at what they'd be adopting, should they go through as written.

Free Enterprise

The text’s treatment of the free enterprise system is almost uniformly celebratory.

A few examples: “The atmosphere of a free market, as well as a free society that encourages the exchange of ideas, can and often does lead to innovation and scientific and technological discoveries. All these conditions promote growth in the economy and often improve the quality of everyday life.”

“The proper role of government in economic affairs should be restricted to functions intended to promote and protect the free play of competition and the operation of the laws of supply and demand. True laissez-faire capitalism has never in fact operated in this country, yet it has a profound effect on the structure of the nation's economic system, which can be described as laissez-faire capitalism with limited government involvement.”

Reads like the Koch brothers wrote it, doesn't it? This is what the reviewers have to say:

Mentioning the advantages of the free enterprise system is entirely appropriate. However, the text's treatment of the free enterprise system is unbalanced and asymmetrical because the text provides little mention of the possible limits and disadvantages of a free enterprise and laissez-faire system. Students are given little awareness that critics of a laissez-faire system, both in the U.S. today and the past, have argued that an unfettered market can and has occasionally led to economic insecurity and inequality, unfair pay, and unsafe labor conditions for many employees.

World History

From a world history textbook, regarding African civilizations:

The text states: "South of the Sahara Desert most of the people before the Age of Explorations were black Africans of the Negro race.

Elsewhere, the text states: "The first known inhabitants of Africa north of the Sahara in prehistory were Caucasoid Hamitic people of uncertain origin."

I'm sure you can see where the criticism might come from, but here it is from the executive summary:

First, the term "Negro" is archaic and fraught with ulterior meaning. It should categorically not be used in a modern textbook. Further, the first passage is unforgivably misleading because it suggests that all black native Africans belong to a single "racial" group. This is typological thinking, which disappeared largely from texts after the 1940s. It harkens back to the racialization theory that all people could be classified as one of three "races": Caucasoid, Mongoloid, or Negroid. Better to omit all the language in this passage referring to outdated racial categories.

Yeah, there's an understatement.

Religion blended into government, aka theocracy

And we can't forget that old-time religion, this time contained in the World Geography textbooks. Three different textbooks, three wrong statements.

Discovery Education: "When Europeans arrived, they brought Christianity with them and spread it among the indigenous people. Over time, Christianity became the main religion in Latin America."

Pearson Education: "Priests came to Mexico to convert Native Americans to the Roman Catholic religion. The Church became an important part of life in the new colony. Churches were built in the centers of towns and cities, and church officials became leaders in the colony."

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: "The Spanish brought their language and Catholic religion, both of which dominate modern Mexico."

The criticism:

The Christianization of the indigenous peoples of the Americas was most decidedly not benign. These descriptions provide a distorted picture of the spread of Christianity. An accurate account must include information about the forced conversion of native peoples and the often-systematic destruction of indigenous religious institutions and practices. (This error of omission is especially problematic when contrasted with the emphasis on conquest -- often violent -- to describe the spread of Islam in some textbooks.) In addition, though neither English nor French North American colonizers actually forced Christianity upon Native people, ti did become United States policy to actively discourage all expressions of traditional Native cultures, including indigenous religion. This was particularly so in the notorious boarding schools to which Native children were sent after being forcibly separated from their parents.


This one is short, sweet, and evil.

From a world history textbook: "Much of the violence you read or hear about in the Middle East is related to a jihad."


This broad charge effectively blames Islam for a very complex cycle of violence and counter-violence, a cycle driven by a host of factors (e.g. natural resources, population pressures) besides radical Islam.

And this, relating to Islam, from another World History text: "The spread of international terrorism is an outgrowth of Islamic fundamentalism which opposes Western political and cultural influences and Western ideology."

"Also, at various points in this product, parts of the Middle East and North Africa are referred to as being "occupied" by "the Muslims" or "in Muslim hands." The text also adopts the revisionist trope that Islam synthesized, stored, and annotated Classical Greek and Roman learning but did not do much to add to it."


The statement about international terrorism is inaccurate and misleading. Not all international terrorism is an outgrowth of Islamic fundamentalism; for example, ETA in Spain and the Irish Republican Army are unrelated to Islamic fundamentalism. Further, the use of loaded terms like "occupied" makes little sense when discussing the Middle Ages, when the population of those regions were by and large Muslim themselves. While there is a lengthy section on Islamic scholarship in this product, in nearly every instance the "original" scientist whose work inspired the scientist described is identified, which serves to minimize the contribution of Islamic scholarship.

The executive summary is 30 pages long. The summary. You can read the entire document here, if you're so inclined. But these few examples should give a clear indicator as to why these textbooks are a disaster.

Yes, these are Texas books. But as I've noted in the past, Texas often serves as the guidepost for smaller states' textbooks. Because Texas and California are two of the largest textbook order states, those books become a blueprint for smaller states' texts.

The John Birch Society has long desired to rewrite textbooks to indoctrinate children as to free enterprise, racism, phobias about other cultures, and more. These books look like they were drafted by the Society's elders themselves.

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