Earlier this year, Texas faced national scrutiny for the efforts of a determined bloc of far-right ideologues on the Texas State Board of Education to rewrite history in the state’s social studies textbooks and curriculum. They succeeded in making students learn about the “conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s,” “documents that supported Cold War-era Sen. Joseph McCarthy,” and the difference “between legal and illegal immigration.” Because of the state’s size, Texas has significant pull in shaping what the nation’s social studies books will say. However, California state Sen. Leland Yee (D) has introduced a bill to keep Texas at bay:
Under Yee’s bill, SB1451, the California Board of Education would be required to look out for any of the Texas content as part of its standard practice of reviewing public school textbooks. The board must then report any findings to both the Legislature and the secretary of education.
The bill describes the Texas curriculum changes as “a sharp departure from widely accepted historical teachings” and “a threat to the apolitical nature of public school governance and academic content standards in California.”
Tom Adams, director of the state Department of Education’s standards and curriculum division, said the Texas standards could make their way into national editions of textbooks, but those aren’t used in California. “Our main concern is whether materials meet California’s standards,” he said. “There’s nothing in our review process that says we should be following Texas or anything like that.”
A new report in the Guardian reveals that the Texas State Board of Education also “dropped references to the slave trade in favour of calling it the more innocuous ‘Atlantic triangular trade,’ and recasts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as driven by Islamic fundamentalism.” The board will be meeting again this week and conservatives have promised to “keep working to the last moment to correct years of liberal bias in history classes.”