Texas Rejects Academic Fact Checking of Text Books
The Texas State Board of Education shot down a proposed measure this week that would have created a group of state professors tasked with fact-checking text books.
In an 8-7 vote, the board rejected vice-chairman Thomas Ratliff's proposed amendment to new textbook approval procedures, which would have created a panel of state college professors responsible for double-checking textbooks. According to Ratliff,
I know that people are concerned about pointy headed liberals in the ivory tower making our process … worse. Why wouldn’t we reach out to them and say let’s make sure these books are as factually accurate as possible?
Opponents of the measure didn't see a need for a secondary review, saying that professors are already free to submit corrections. However, flaws in the current system of civilian/parent review were acknowledged, saying that as many curriculum focus on less than half of the textbook, parents and teachers tend to ignore the rest of the book and errors can go unnoticed. Board member Erika Beltran supported such a secondary review process, noting the benefits to the public opinion of the board, saying the current opinion of the board is not a positive one.
As one of the biggest buyers of textbooks in the nation, Texas' textbook decisions can actually influence book availability in other parts of the nation. Texas has been recently slammed for the board's perceived political motivations in decisions related to textbooks. Recent controversies with Texas textbooks include the ways the books handle the Civil War, climate change, Islam, and American slavery. Last month, a Houston mother complained about a board-approved geography book that downplayed American slavery by referring to the slaves as "workers". World History books have also been criticized for positively depicting Communist leaders Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong of China. Another point of contention came in texts that implied that Thomas Jefferson used Moses as inspiration when writing the Declaration of Independence and that the Old Testament was the basis for Western Democracy.