Texas Fights for U.S.


Publishers alter texts to try to make grade

Copyright 2002 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau

AUSTIN -- Bowing to political pressure, publishers of social studies textbooks have changed passages dealing with events ranging from the Alamo to last year's terrorist attacks.

The publishers are hoping the changes will help their 200 textbooks gain approval next month from the State Board of Education. That approval is key to getting a piece of the $345 million market.

School districts will decide which books to use, but the state only pays for books that pass state board muster.

With 4 million students, Texas is one of the largest markets for textbooks. Publishers often gear books to survive the rigorous review process here, and then market them in other states.

Dozens of citizens reviewed the books and expressed their thoughts during three public hearings conducted by the state board last summer. Since then publishers have been responding to the comments, rejecting some and agreeing with others.

The changes are drawing both praise and criticism.

Board member Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi, said she's pleased that publishers responded to calls to include more about Mexicans who helped defend the Alamo and the later struggles of Mexican-Americans for civil rights.

Berlanga said publishers have added passages that weave Hispanics into the stories of Texas and America.

"This is a very important step that we're taking forward," said Berlanga.

Others say that the publishers are censoring their textbooks to pass a conservative litmus test.

Texas Freedom Network, a group that monitors the religious right, said publishers have deleted passages that describe Islam positively and made changes to promote Christianity.

For example, a reference in a sixth-grade social studies book to glaciers forming the Great Lakes "millions of years ago" was changed to "in the distant past."

Robert Raborn, a member of the conservative Citizens for a Sound Economy, had complained that "millions of years ago" supported the theory of evolution and excluded theories such as intelligent design.

That same publisher, Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, addressed another of Raborn's criticisms by deleting a sentence that stated that acid rain produced in the United States is a major environmental problem for Canada.

Last year, the education board rejected a high school environmental science textbook that conservatives said presented an extreme environmentalist view. State law allows the education board to reject books only for factual errors or for not conforming to the curriculum.

"Instead of standing guard and protecting the thoroughness and accuracy of textbooks, some publishers are now caving in to pressure from a handful of very noisy would-be censors," said Samantha Smoot, executive director of the Texas Freedom Network.

[I believe Ms. Smoot has it exactly backwards, as proved all over this website - Jen ]

The discussion of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., by Muslim extremists was closely read by many reviewers. Raborn criticized a passage in the Glencoe/McGraw-Hill book that discussed how Osama bin Laden's instructions to his followers to kill Americans was not supported by the Quran, which tells soldiers to show civilians kindness and justice.

"This is going to great length to put a positive light on Muslim teachings considering other passages in the Quran. Either leave this material out alltogether or present more balance," Raborn said in written comments submitted to the state board.

The publisher replaced the deleted passage with a statement that al-Qaeda's anti-American beliefs were not shared by all Muslims. "The attacks on the United States horrified people around the world, including millions of Muslims who live in the Middle East, the United States, and elsewhere," the book now reads.

Joe Bill Watkins, an Austin lawyer who represents the Association of American Publishers, said the review process worked. He said the alterations made by publishers are a small percentage of the changes requested by members of the public who reviewed the books.

"For the most part, they're not controversial," said Watkins. "But this is social studies, and let's face it, you probably could throw a dart at any page and find somebody who didn't like it. This isn't mathematics, where two plus two equals four."

Chris Patterson, director of educational research for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative-leaning think tank, said the review process worked.

"This is the perfect example of democracy in action and how democracy was designed to function," Patterson said. "It's noisy, it's loud and there's a lot of public interaction and the best outcome is derived."

However, Patterson said the Legislature should consider adopting a formal process for the textbooks to be reviewed by college professors.

"There's no real quality control. Everyone right and left sees that," said Patterson.















  More anti-Muslim censoring in                  textbooks after 9/11

November 20, 2002
Scripps Howard News Service

The war on terrorism is giving fresh ammunition to groups protesting what they perceive as anti-Christian and anti-American propaganda in school textbooks.

[what we perceive? how many times must we prove it?]

Watchdog groups contend publishers are so concerned about lucrative schoolbook contracts that during the recently completed book selection process in the Texas school system, publishers have opted just to delete some of the challenged portions of texts involving Islam, rather than fight to keep them in, or offer alternative wording.

[Why aren't the watchdog groups protecting our religious freedom given similar credit?  Publishers have been "so concerned about lucrative schoolbook contracts" that they have been indoctrinating our children to other religions until now.  Why should publishers fight to keep in proven propaganda?  Why are liberals so blind to where they are trying to lead us?]

Steve Driesler, spokesman for the American Association of Publishers, said disputes over references to Islam in texts used in U.S. schools have become more controversial since the 9/11 attacks.

He noted history and social science schoolbooks were re-written over the last two decades, under instructions that often came from school boards to come up with texts that weren't so concentrated on western European cultures, and views that gave a fuller coverage to other cultures represented in American schools today.

"They have intentionally gone back and given a better understanding of other cultures and religion," Driesler said, contending the 9/11 attacks made the changes in the text more conspicuous and brought attacks on publishers' motives.

[yes, John Walker Lindh has a better understanding of other cultures and religion and is paying dearly for it.  Driesler is right, it has made the lies that are spoonfed our children more conspicuous and publishers' motives ARE more obvious, thank God.  This agenda should have been recognized and confronted eleven years ago!]

Ashley McIlvain of the Texas Freedom Network, an organization battling what it sees as an effort by conservative Christian religious groups to push a religious agenda on schools, said positive characterizations of Islam and Islamic history are coming under increasing attack.

[We are not saying we should force the Gospel in school, we are saying stop trying to force our children into other religions.  We are trying to take the religious agenda OUT of schools.  We need separation of atheist and state!]

"I think this is a direct result of 9/11," she said.

Rather than fighting the groups, McIlvain said publishers are often deleting paragraphs and sentences involving Islam that conservative critics find objectionable.

[How about simply deleting all lies and propaganda?]

She said the outcome of the Texas fights over textbook language isn't just an issue involving the $600 million a year Texas spends on schoolbooks, but affects schools in other states as well because publishers want to produce books accepted by all states.

[Yaay Texas!  We applaud you!]

Among changes made this year, textbook publisher Prentice Hall agreed to delete the sentence: "Many other teachings in the Quran, such as the importance of honesty, honor, giving to others and having love and respect for their families, govern their daily lives."

Critics objected to the sentence as being "more propaganda" for Islam. [Because it is] Prentice Hall spokeswoman Wendy Spiegel said the book's editors found issues raised by the objectionable sentence were addressed partially in other parts of the text, and so agreed with critics to excise the sentence.

[Then those passages need to be corrected as well, truth should mean something]

In an other instance, publisher Glencoe, a division of McGraw-Hill, deleted the words: "Al Qeada's leader, Osama bin Laden told his followers that it was a Muslim's duty to kill Americans. No idea could be farther from Muslim teachings. The Quran, Islam's holiest book, tells soldiers to 'show (civilians) kindness and to deal with them justly.' "

[I can't believe they actually wrote that.  Hopefully somebody has bothered to read what comes directly from the Quran!]

Critics objected to the passage, saying "this is going to great length to put a positive light on Muslim teachings considering other passages in the Quran." A Glencoe spokeswoman did not return a reporter's phone call.

[I'll return your phone call...the Glencoe woman is exactly right and it's already proven.  How much time was she given to call back?]

Peggy Venable of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, an organization whose volunteers filed many of the textbook complaints, said texts that don't emphasize American values and champion multi-cultural ideas should not be endorsed for use in the schools.

[Amen Peggy! *the values this nation was founded on, anyway]

"We want to see tolerance taught and to encourage students to see our government in a positive light," she said. "We saw in these texts a tone that de-exceptionalized the United States. To say all cultures are equal is absurd."

Venable rejected charges that her group was censoring school texts. "We are parents and taxpayers," she said. Publishers agreed to more than 40 percent of the text changes members of her group made, she said, and "if you look at the texts, most of the changes strengthened the text books."

[Everyone is so afraid of being labeled a "censor".  There is nothing wrong with censoring lies, propaganda and insisting on the truth.]

Jen Shroder, a self-described "soccer Mom" in San Luis Obispo, Calif., said it's not just the texts she finds objectionable, but role-playing activities the books promote in classrooms that her children are asked to play.

Shroder has launched her own Web site attacking the sixth grade social studies text, "Across the Centuries" published by Houghton-Mifflin because it asks students to imagine they are Muslim soldiers, or participate in building a mosque.

"Asking children to participate in other religions is a huge violation of our religious rights," Shroder said. "The propaganda is unreal."

[well it is...(huge smile) ]    

Houghton Mifflin spokesman Collin Earnst said Shroder's complaints aren't founded, and the text has been used in schools for 11 years.

[I hear this defense all the time.  11 years or a thousand years...time does not make wrong into right.  Valerie Moore tried to stop what was happening in 1994 when she drove up to the school which had a huge banner stating:

"There is one god, Allah,
and Mohammed is his prophet."

This should have been stopped long ago.]

He said that only 10 percent of the book concerns Islam, and that all other religions are included to expose students to a variety of other beliefs and cultures.

[Christianity is badly maligned, Judaism is blatantly falsified, Islam is poetically promoted...this is our variety?] 

Houghton-Mifflin, which is keeping the provisions in the text, said the classroom activities the books encourage are intended only to give students a deeper understanding of other cultures and religions.

[Whitewashed versions give children zero understanding of reality.  Asking children to participate in other religions is like asking a married woman to sleep with another man to understand the adulterer.  School does not have the right to indoctrinate children to other religions.]

Andrew Riggsby, an assistant professor of classics at the University of Texas, said he sees the end results of school text battles in his classroom.

He said he notices this in discussing how the Roman Empire expanded when students aren't aware of how European expansion into North America slaughtered the Indians because interest groups persuaded school text publishers to scrub those negative views of colonialists.

[And I notice that Islam is expanding while people  aren't aware of how Islam expansion into the world  slaughters Christians, Jews, and all who will not pray to Allah, because interest groups have been persuading news media and school text publishers to scrub those negative views.

Again, LOVE the Muslim, I am very fond of a Muslim I know, he is one of the nicest people I have ever met.  But what Islam demands of him, (which he ignores), is outright evil.  Why are historians refusing to read what is in any Quran they can find? 

This is a whopping principality of blinding darkness of the lost.  Saints, please pray for these people!] 

On the Net:

You can contact Gay Lance, author, at gayl@shns.com

Back to Home pageBack to Home