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Sculptures In Photo Open a Textbook Cover-Up Case
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Sculptures In Photo Open a Textbook Cover-Up Case

BY Terrence Stutz

AUSTIN - The male sculptures atop the New York Stock Exchange building facade have never looked so - clothed. The publisher of a new economics textbook for Texas schools has decided that nude male sculptures are inappropriate for high school students - even the ones that adorn the nerve center of U.S. business and commerce. On the cover of Holt, Rinehart and Winston's new high school economics book is a photograph of the front of the New York Stock Exchange, including the sculptured relief that rests on top of the building's marble columns. Some of the actual male figures in the relief are naked - but not in the photograph, which depicts the sculptures covered with skirts. Inside the book, a smaller picture shows the male images as they really are - au naturel. A spokesman for Holt, Rinehart and Winston played down the book cover, noting that the sculptures in question are less than an inch high in the photograph. "It wasn't a big issue with us. We considered this a minor change," said Rick Blake, vice president of communications and government affairs for Harcourt Education, which owns Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Mr. Blake said the book's editors wanted the well-recognized entrance to the stock exchange building on the cover because it is such a "strong image," particularly for students studying the U.S. economy. At the same time, he said, they felt that "nude figures on the cover of a high school textbook was not such a good idea. There would always be the temptation for kids to damage the cover." The company has received no complaints about the book cover. "As things now stand, we have no plans to change it," Mr. Blake said. A group that has accused social conservatives of censoring textbooks said the altered photograph should come as no surprise. "The flap over the statues may be humorous, but the power that would-be censors hold over Texas textbooks is dead serious," said Samantha Smoot of the Texas Freedom Network. "For decades now, a handful of activists from the far right have had a stranglehold over textbook approval in Texas. Because they can credibly threaten to raise a stink and have a book rejected, some publishers are turning to self-censorship to appease these groups." Taking issue with the freedom network was Peggy Venable of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, a conservative organization whose members have reviewed textbooks under consideration this year. "I don't know of anyone who has even mentioned this book," Ms. Venable said. "But it is true that textbook publishers are paying more attention to citizens and parents because we are their customers. "When teachers and a small elite group like the Freedom Network squeal about our efforts, it just means they have lost control of the situation," she said. The high school economics textbook is one of several proposed social studies books up for adoption in Texas this year. The State Board of Education will make a final decision in November.

07/26/2002
Battle Over Whether Right-Wing Groups In Texas Have Too Much Influence Over Textbooks Used In the Schools In That State
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Battle Over Whether Right-Wing Groups In Texas Have Too Much Influence Over Textbooks Used In the Schools In That State

BY John Burnett

MADELEINE BRAND, host: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Madeleine Brand. It's textbook time in Texas. The state has begun its highly politicized process of selecting public school books. Texas, California and Florida buy more textbooks than any other states, and therefore have a big influence on the books used by students nationwide. For the past 30 years, social conservatives have had an increasing influence, prompting critics to charge that publishers are self-censoring. NPR's John Burnett reports. JOHN BURNETT reporting: The cover of a proposed high school economics textbook under consideration by the Texas State Board of Education bears the photograph of the famous pediment above the entrance to the New York Stock Exchange. But in the marble tableau, two of the male sculptures, agriculture and science to be exact, have loincloths drawn over their usually exposed genitalia. The publisher, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, says it doctored the picture because the nudity was, quote, "inappropriate." But veteran observers of textbook showdowns in Texas say this is the latest example of how far publishers will go to get a book past the easily shocked eyes of conservative textbook reviewers. The censored economics book was one of 150 stacked in the corner of a hearing room in Austin last week. The State Board of Education seeks public comment on new textbooks before it selects a pool of books to pass along to the state's 1,100 individual school districts. Unidentified Speaker: I think we're about ready to begin. Let me go over a couple of ground rules for the participants. BURNETT: Battles over textbook content are legendary in Texas, but the stakes are even higher this year. The state is expected to spend a third of a billion dollars on new school books next year, and the subject is social studies, which, unlike algebra or Latin, is ripe for interpretation. Ms. CHRIS PATTERSON (Director of Education Research, Texas Public Policy Foundation): There really is a politically correct body of history, of social studies, that you find in every single textbook. BRAND: Chris Patterson is director of education research for a conservative think tank in San Antonio called the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Ms. PATTERSON: There's always a noble native, there's always a bad white European. And it's always the European who created slavery. BRAND: To get an idea of how organized the right is, this year, Patterson's group will spend at least $100,000 for a team of 16 teachers and academics to comb through the textbooks. So far, their comments fill 1,700 pages. And that's just one group. Eight other conservative organizations, such as the Eagle Forum and Citizens for a Sound Economy, have formed a coalition to vet the books. At the hearing, volunteer editors for these groups stepped up to the mike all day to pound the publishers. Unidentified Woman #1: On page 56, under the heading 'Christianity and the Teachings of Jesus,' the Christian belief in the resurrection of Christ is not mentioned as a core tenet of Christianity. Unidentified Woman #2: Another problem that I found with The Western Experience by Glencoe, McGraw-Hill, is they talk about Karl Marx as the most influential social and political thinker in the history of man. Unidentified Woman #3: We are a republic, founded on biblical principles. Unidentified Man: And there's even a picture of Osama bin Laden in the Glencoe text. The Koran and all of its teaching is violent, it's expansionistic and I think it's a crime and a shame to mislead our students. BURNETT: Much of what the self-appointed textbook editors do is catch errors of fact. Two examples this year: That Thomas Jefferson wrote the US Constitution--it was actually a collaborative effort--and that John Marshall was the first chief justice of the US Supreme Court. It was John Jay. But the reviewers also look for perceived ideological bias, which they contend is written into the textbooks. Two recent examples: Last year, the Education Board rejected an environmental science textbook on the urging of conservative groups who contended the book exaggerated the problems of global warming. They called the book 'anti-free enterprise' and 'anti-Christian.' And this year, a publisher has already withdrawn a US history book, in part because the board chairwoman, Grace Shore, a Republican, objected to the statement that 'In the late 19th century, there were perhaps 50,000 prostitutes west of the Mississippi.' Ms. GRACE SHORE: And I don't think that was something that needed to be emphasized so much, because you do have to pick and choose what goes in a book. BURNETT: The textbook review movement did not spring up overnight. It grew out of the work of a couple in Longview, Texas, Mel and Norma Gabler. After tussling with textbook publishers for 40 years, they've learned to laugh off their critics. Ms. NORMA GABLER: I don't know what a right-wing extremist is. I haven't figured that out. Mr. MEL GABLER: Well, every one of our Founding Fathers, almost without exception, would be considered a right-wing extremist today. BURNETT: Mel is a former oil company work who's 87 years old. His 79-year-old wife Norma was a housewife before she taught herself to be a textbook activist. They live in a modest house filled with seashells collected from around the world and lots of textbooks. They're devout Southern Baptists, who believe their faith has called them to battle the dark forces and sloppy editors that corrupt the books read by Texas schoolchildren. Mr. GABLER: Nearly everything where they give problems, the solution is not individuals or free enterprise. The solution is almost always big government. In other words, government becomes god in people's mind, that are pretty well indoctrinated with socialism. BURNETT: But can history be truly objective, divorced from the values of its author? Does truth belong to one political ideology or the other? And does truth change from state to state? This is Penny Langford, speaking for Republican Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Ms. PENNY LANGFORD (Spokeswoman for Ron Paul): I heard just a few minutes ago that maybe we were replacing liberal bias with conservative bias. This is a conservative state. And is it conservative or is it truth? BURNETT: In 1995, concerned by how a few conservative groups dominated the Education Board, the Texas Senate, including moderate Republicans, passed a law restricting the power of the board over textbook content. But little has changed since then. In fact, conservative proofreaders have begun communicating their concerns directly to publishers outside the public hearing process. Samantha Smoot is director of the Texas Freedom Network, a liberal watchdog group in Austin. Ms. SAMANTHA SMOOT (Director, Texas Freedom Network): The issue that goes beyond this year's approvals is really about self-censorship. It's about the religious right in Texas becoming so powerful in their threats to have books banned at the State Board of Education that the publishers are willing to accept their changes and their censorship before the books are ever presented in this public forum. BURNETT: As the longest-serving member on the State Education Board, Mary Helen Berlanga says for 19 years she has watched as publishers increasingly acquiesce to conservative critics. Berlanga is one of five Democrats on the 15-member elected board dominated by Republicans. Ms. MARY HELEN BERLANGA (Texas State Education Board): And quite frankly, I don't blame publishers. They're going to do whatever it takes to get their books adopted. Who do you have to make happy? That's who I'm going to make happy. But in the process, we are destroying the selection process... BURNETT: Publishing company officials at the hearing refused to comment for this report. Their local lobbyist, Joe Bill Watkins, said while it's true that publishers would like to sell the Texas editions in as many states as possible, publishers are not willing to make any change just to please Texas conservatives. Mr. JOE BILL WATKINS (Publishing Company Lobbyist): But do they do anything? No. There have been publishers who have said no and walked away from the table before. But you can imagine that is something a publisher does reluctantly because they have basically made 80 percent to 90 percent of their entire investment by this point in time. BURNETT: The chairwoman of the State Education Board, Grace Shore, rejects the notion that the textbook selection process in Texas has become the captive of one interest group. Ms. SHORE: I'm proud of our system. I think it works. And I think it would be censorship if we did not have this process. Our process brings everything out in the open. BURNETT: Perhaps, board members suggest with a smile, one group is using democracy better than the other. Mainstream citizens have the right to speak out, too. For instance, last week, a large number of Latinos criticized the Texas history books for omitting important contributions of Hispanic Texans. 'Don't get mad,' said one board member. 'Get organized.' John Burnett, NPR News, Austin. BRAND: It's 11 minutes before the hour.

07/26/2002
Brief Biographies of GOP Insurance Candidates
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Brief Biographies of GOP Insurance Candidates

Republican candidates for insurance commissioner:

07/26/2002
Orange Schools Tax May Go Up For Vote
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Orange Schools Tax May Go Up For Vote

BY Beth Velliquette

HILLSBOROUGH - Although they argued whether a special district tax is needed for Orange County Schools, Board of Education members finally appear to agree that it's the voters' decision, not their decision. "For some reason, there's a belief that this board can levy a tax," board member Brenda Simpson said at the Tuesday night meeting. "I have one vote. If all of you have one vote, it's the citizens of this county who will decide whether we have a district tax." The school board is expected to vote at its next meeting on whether to ask the Orange County Commissioners to put the tax to voters. In a meeting filled with hand waving, interruptions, snide remarks and arguments, the board discussed how to come up with money for the school system. Although Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools has had a special district tax for its school system for decades, Orange County Schools hasn't asked for one. Last year a task force was convened to come up with alternative funding ideas for the school system. One recommendation of the task force, which passed in a split vote, was to consider a special district tax. Several school board members, however, said the board should look for other ways to find money rather than adding another tax. One way to do that is through an audit, board members Bob Bateman and David Kolbinsky said. But they said the audit that was completed earlier this year didn't go far enough. It should have included programs, not just items like copy machine costs, they said. "This audit is a scam," Bateman said. "When did you look at the programs? You didn't look at the programs." People in the community don't understand why the school system needs more money, he said. "That's the concern in this community," he added. "As much as we're funding the schools, we should have ample money to educate beautifully 6,000 students." Board Chairwoman Dana Thompson said it was too late to criticize the audit. "The proper time was when we proceeded with the vote," she said. Thompson encouraged the board to move on to the discussion of a district tax. The school board must vote to ask the county commissioners to hold a referendum on a district tax. The task force on alternative funding methods suggested designing a proposal for a district tax with a 10-cent limit and a five-year cap. One cent of tax would raise $ 332,752 for the school system, according to county calculations. Ten cents would raise $ 3,327,519. Board member Keith Cook said it's the school board's duty to educate students. "We have not been able to give our children the same programs other school systems have," he said. "Why? Because we don't have any money." Kolbinsky said residents have heard over and over again that the tax rate has to increase. "If we're talking about asking, I think when the community hears this type of talk, I think they say, 'Here they go again. The government never has enough money,' " he said. Before the board discussion, a number of residents, including several who are running for the school board, spoke about the district tax. Randy Copeland, a candidate, asked the board to wait for the new members to take office before making a decision about the tax. "There may only be a couple of you here, and I'm asking you to table the discussion for a couple of months," Copeland said. Robert Randall, who said he heads an organization called Citizens for a Sound Economy, said additional taxes would hurt the economy. One speaker raised the hackles of several people when she said people who don't vote for the tax are selfish. "I think when anti-tax people stand up and say we want less, what they really are saying is we want less for the children of the Orange County Schools and more for ourselves," Elizabeth Brown said. That statement irritated school board candidate Betty Davidson, who stood up and said she had to respond to Brown's comments. "The special district tax is polarizing this community,' she said. "I absolutely hate to see how we can call folks in this community selfish." Farmers, retired people and other working people in northern Orange County built the county, so it's unfair to characterize them as selfish, she said. "I would say just be careful how you characterize the folks in northern Orange County who have made much of what this county is today," Davidson said.

07/25/2002
Texas School Boards Battle Over What Some Perceive As Liberal Slants In High School Textbooks
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Texas School Boards Battle Over What Some Perceive As Liberal Slants In High School Textbooks

BY Tom Brokaw

TOM BROKAW, anchor: NBC News IN DEPTH tonight, in the midst of summer vacation when kids are taking a break from textbooks, a battle over those books now at a boiling point in Texas. At issue: whether the books somehow slant the truth. The outcome could affect what your kids end up reading come homework time. IN DEPTH, here's NBC's Kevin Tibbles. Unidentified Woman: My request would be that no book be approved unless it clearly defines republic. KEVIN TIBBLES reporting: What you're watching is a debate over what high school students in Texas should be reading in school. Ms. ELEANOR HUTCHESON (Daughters of the American Revolution): There are many sweeping statements on printed page 456 without any proof to support them. This is called bias. TIBBLES: For years, conservative groups have complained many books contain a liberal slant. Ms. CHRIS PATTERSON (Texas Public Policy Foundation): There still is the political correctness and the whitewashing and the bleaching of--of our history that--that needs to be addressed. TIBBLES: What kinds of things do they want changed? According to the foundation, one high school history book says, "The Kennedy brothers played key roles in the civil rights movement." The criticism, "This is excessive that they spent as much time frustrating it, as helping." Another example, "Tourists and fur traders shot buffalo for sport." The criticism, "Once equipped with repeating weapons, Plains Indians overhunted and engaged in hunting for the sport of it as well." So why is this important in the $4 1/2 billion textbook industry? Because Texas is the second largest buyer in the country. So whatever books the Texas School Board approves will likely wind up being used in classrooms from Alaska to Arkansas. But critics of these groups charge them with hijacking the text in the textbooks. Ms. SAMANTHA SMOOT (Texas Freedom Network): What the right wing would like to do when it comes to history textbooks is essentially stop the clock at 1950. TIBBLES: Dr. Dan Chiras had his advanced science textbook rejected because it stated, among other things, that over 100 million Americans are breathing unhealthy air. The Texas Public Policy Foundation called that an exaggeration, misleading and shocking vitriol against Western civilization. Dr. DANIEL CHIRAS ("Environmental Science" Author): Even though the opposing viewpoints were often presented as well, they disagree with those and then went on a witch hunt to find--you know, basically to--to burn this book at the stake. TIBBLES: The foundation also succeeded in having this line removed from another textbook altogether, "Most experts on global warming feel that immediate action should be taken to curb global warming." But these groups say all they want is for kids to get the best education possible. Ms. PEGGY VENABLE (Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy): Isn't it ludicrous that when parents and citizens get involved, review textbooks and testify on concerns they have, that a group wants to call it censorship? TIBBLES: A heated debate that raises the question: How much influence should politics have in the education of millions of American children? Kevin Tibbles, NBC News, Dallas.

07/25/2002
Regulators to the Rescue?
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Press Release

Regulators to the Rescue?

With Congress concerned with little more than how the WorldCom bankruptcy will play during November midterm elections, regulators more insulated from short-term political pressures could play a constructive role in the next few months. While the spotlight is on accounting and the ways WorldCom concealed its poor economic performance, regulators at the Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can rethink the way public policy contributed to the poor business performance WorldCom executives sought to conceal.

07/24/2002
CSE Supports Government Flexibility
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Press Release

CSE Supports Government Flexibility

As the Senate continues to debate one of the largest re-organizations of the federal government in recent history, CSE today urged them to follow through on President Bush’s recommendation to allow for worker flexibility in the newly established Department. “Without this flexibility, our antiquated civil service system will only hamper efforts to create a streamlined and effective Department,” said Paul Beckner, CSE’s President and CEO. “By kowtowing to their liberal union constituencies the Democrats put the entire effort in jeopardy.”

07/24/2002
'Infectious Greed' and Other Miasmatic Diseases
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Press Release

'Infectious Greed' and Other Miasmatic Diseases

© 2002 Copley News Service, 7/23/2002 American equity markets have lost $7 trillion in value, approximately 40 percent, since they peaked in late March 2000. The Washington establishment has decided to blame it on a "speculative bubble" caused by foolish investors and to a "loss of confidence" caused by greedy corporate "wrongdoers" who were out to systematically plunder their companies.

07/23/2002
Letter to Senate Regarding Prescription Drug Coverage
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Press Release

Letter to Senate Regarding Prescription Drug Coverage

Dear Senator, I write on behalf of the nearly 300,000 members of Citizens for a Sound Economy to urge you to vote NO on any bill that provides a Medicare prescription drug benefit without fundamental restructuring of the entire Medicare system. While it may be tempting politically to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, such action would be unwise for two obvious reasons:

07/23/2002
Donahue Show Focuses on Texas Textbook Battle
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Press Release

Donahue Show Focuses on Texas Textbook Battle

DONAHUE: I have to interrupt. We did our best and we thank you all. We know you are all coming from the heart, and we’ll be back in just a moment. Up next, classroom textbooks coming under fire, both sides duke it out over alleged bias in the books your kids are reading. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) DONAHUE: Texas is a state not known to shy away from a fight and right now one is brewing. The public gets to weigh in on the textbooks that are used in public classrooms and conservatives and liberals are fighting over what’s in and what’s out.

07/23/2002

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