An analysis of textbooks under consideration to be distributed in Texas public schools this year finds that they include biased statements that could be shaping young minds' perceptions about American history and ethnic groups.
A report of the analysis, written by history and religion scholars hired by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, says the books -- intended for middle school and high school students -- include biased statements about Islam, Native American communities, capitalism and the Civil War.
The review was made by 10 university scholars who looked at the content from 43 history, government and geography textbooks that the Texas State Board of Education planned to adopt this fall. The controversial content in the textbook appears to be related to a 2010 decision by the State Board of Education that approved a conservative curriculum. At the time, the New York Times described how the curriculum emphasized that the Founding Fathers were “guided by Christian principles" and promoted capitalism, among other conservative-leaning biases.
According to the review, the new textbooks carried out these ideological mandates.
“In all fairness, it’s clear that the publishers struggled with these flawed standards and still managed to do a good job in some areas,” Kathy Miller, TFN Education Fund president, said in a statement. “On the other hand, a number of textbook passages essentially reflect the ideological beliefs of politicians on the state board rather than sound scholarship and factual history.”
For instance, some textbooks stated that “the roots of democratic government” can be found in the Old Testament, and that “the biblical idea of a covenant ... contributed to our constitutional structure,” according to the report.
One textbook made the bold claim that the “the spread of international terrorism is an outgrowth of Islamic fundamentalism.” Other textbooks reportedly skim over the gay rights movement, downplay the experiences of Native Americans and minimize the hardships African-Americans faced during segregation.
David Bradley, a State Board of Education member, said the complaints issued by the Texas Freedom Network will not go very far.
"Being that the Texas Freedom Network actively recruits liberal opponents to run against the board, I don’t think they are going to make much headway with the board’s majority," Bradley told the Texas Tribune. "If Texas Freedom Network is unhappy with [the textbooks], then I am probably going to feel pretty good about them."
The textbooks were published by McGraw-Hill School Education, Pearson Education, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and others.
The board will host a public hearing on the textbooks next week, the American-Statesman of Austin reports.
"Pearson works diligently to ensure its instructional materials are compliant with Texas standards,” Pearson spokesman Brandon Pinette told the Texas Tribune in an emailed statement. “We will review the TFN report and listen to all interested stakeholders as we enter the public hearing process."