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Texas Textbook Debate Has National Implications

on 7/26/02.

NBC (7/25, story 5, Brokaw) reports, "In the midst of summer vacation when kids are taking a break from textbooks, a battle over those books is at a boiling point now in Texas. At issue, whether the books slant the truth. And the outcome could affect what your kids end up reading come homework time." NBC (Tibbles) adds, "What you're watching is a debate over what high school students in Texas should be reading in school." For "years, conservative groups have complained many books contain a liberal slant." Chris Patterson of Texas Public Policy Foundation was shown saying, "There is still the political correctness and the whitewashing and the bleaching of our history that needs to be addressed." NBC adds, "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, as 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 $4.5 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." Samantha Smoot of the Texas Freedom Network was shown saying, "What the right wing would like to do when it comes to history textbooks is essentially stop the clock at 1950." NBC adds, "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.'" Chiras was shown saying, "Even though the opposing viewpoints were often presented as well, they disagreed with those, and then went on a witch hunt to find -- basically burn this book at the stake." NBC adds, "The Foundation also succeeded in having this line removed from another 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." Peggy Venable of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy was shown saying, "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?" NBC adds, "A heated debate that raises the question -- how much influence should politics have in the education of millions of American children?"