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State Board of Education Passes All But One Textbook Publishers Social Studies Selection

Ryan E. Poppe

It has been a long and contentious journey, one that ended rather anticlimactically on Friday. After receiving thousands of last minute corrections, the State Board of Education adopted all but one of the Texas 2015 social studies textbook submissions. The one not adopted, was because a publisher refused to compromise on the book’s content, and the board believed that content violated state policy.

For the most, however, textbook publishers were able to address both Republican and Democratic groups’ concerns about reportedly “biased” presentations of some content. 

The publisher that refused to make changes, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, said that their books were removed from the board approval process because they refused to include material on Moses’ impact on the Founding Fathers, or how the U.S. Constitution was based on the Old Testament, which are part of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards. 

The Texas Freedom Network’s Kathy Miller, however, said she wouldn’t be surprised if more publishers skipped the State Board Review process. “School districts are allowed to buy books that the State Board of Education has not adopted, so this publisher can still sell their books across Texas.”

The publisher’s rationale was that their book had been adopted nationally and the changes required in Texas would interfere with their ability to sell that book outside of the state.

Miller added, “For years, Texas was the largest purchaser of textbooks and therefore publishers were willing to jump through the hoops set before them by the State Board. But now that local districts in Texas can buy books not approved by the State Board, that power is diminishing.”

Amarillo Republican and Board member, Marty Rowley, reminded his fellow members that textbook publishers had the authority to edit their material after adoption. “They can make all kinds of changes, unless it relates to their TEKS coverage. And for that reason, I think we’ve done the best we can to salvage the situation.”

The State board will meet again in February to go over any last minute changes.