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The Battle over Texas' Textbooks

on 7/17/02.

Education process
It is interesting to note that those checking for flaws in potential textbooks are themselves flawed ("New books, another battle," July 10). Their claim that Rosa Parks did not sit in the middle of the bus is inaccurate.
According to the Rosa Parks Library and Museum, Parks sat in the front row of the "colored" section of the bus, which was behind the whites-only section. She was arrested when she refused to give up her seat in the colored section to a white man after the whites-only section filled. She did not sit in the front of the bus and the front of the colored section is arguably the middle of the bus.
If the fact-checkers of our children's textbooks cannot get the facts correct, is there any real purpose to this process? The focus of improving our school systems should not be on minor errors in one tool of education, but the broader education process itself.
Get computers
I read that the state of Texas will, over the next two years, spend more than $700 million on textbooks for public schools. Why?
Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent every few years trying to decide which texts will be purchased. These books presented for consideration are filled with errors, omissions or worse. These same books must be replaced even more frequently now in selected subjects. These proposed texts are squabbled over, lobbied both for and against, perused by educators, hawked by publishers and yet still found to exhibit problems.
I think it is time we moved the school systems in Texas in the 21st century. Schools should have a computer for every child in school, and those computers should contain their textbooks. Textbooks could consist of the same text and graphics they do now. The big plus is they could be as extensive or as brief as the educators so desired. They could continually be improved and or updated as needed.
Let's get our legislators to make an investment in education of our children that will keep on paying off in years to come.
Unhealthy connection
In the July 10 American-Statesman are two more baffling examples of the connection between right-wing Christian conservatives and anti-environment sentiment.
One, a story regarding textbook selection in Texas discusses how in the past, conservative organizations previewing books have wanted to omit references to environmental degradation and endangered species, etc.
In the second article, Marvin Olasky describes his trip (no doubt paid for by the oil company) to a refinery in Alaska and was pleased to find it wasn't nearly as dirty as he expected. He urged us to "dig in" and begin drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge soon.
These same conservatives don't want their children polluted by any discussion of evolution but have no problem with their children drinking polluted water and breathing dirty air. The conundrum that these people should be facing is how they reconcile their stated love of God and God's creations, while bashing any attempt to educate this generation and the next about just how dire the state of this planet has become.
Keeping our rights
It is good that our federal and local governments are taking steps to prevent another terrorist attack. However, our civil liberties are slowly being taken away in the name of security.
Our government should not have the power to hold military tribunals where defendants who are U.S. citizens cannot appeal decisions to a civilian court. Our government should not be allowed to hold military tribunals in secret. Our government should not be holding the alleged "dirty bomb" suspect in custody for an indefinite amount of time.
The federal government has given enormous power to itself since Sept. 11. We need to try our best to prevent another attack. But this does not mean we should throw the Constitution out the window. And we should not throw out our system of checks and balances, either.
We are made to feel unpatriotic or divisive if we bring up things like this to the government, but it is our responsibility to stand up for our rights.
Price for security
Marvin Olasky's June 26 column about the privatized social security system in Chile fails to inform us that it took a bloody military coup, thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousand exiled citizens like myself for Augusto Pinochet and others to impose such an "independence from government control."
Olasky also fails to tell us that the funds in those private "libretitas" are guaranteed by all Chileans whether or not they choose to participate. For the operators of those funds, it is a profitable, risk-free business.
I have lived and worked in the United States for 28 years. I own one "libretita" from 14 years of service with the Texas Employee Retirement System that will pay me a fixed pension guaranteed for life. The other half of my work life is invested in a well-managed, nonprofit mutual fund. That fund has lost about one-third of its book value in the past five years.
At the rate we are going, we may get the autocratic government needed to impose such a system.
Podiatrist power
Re: July 2 article "Orthopedists denied a chance to go toe-to-toe with podiatrists":
In 1986, I incurred a fracture to my left lower extremity. Various orthopedists, including an ankle specialist treated it as "a classic sprain." Their therapies included an air cast and my being told the pain was normal.
In 1995, I was living in Corpus Christi and had the good fortune to become the patient of podiatrist Dr. Donald Rhodes.
Based on the extensive X-ray series that he made, the fracture was at long last detected. He stated that there were also two bone chips, one the size of his thumbnail. I was casted to the knee until I healed.
I will never let it be said that a foot doctor does not know enough to treat the lower ankle. More power to the podiatrists.

GRAPHIC: Chelsea Rivera // Bill Peacock is a volunteer textbook screener who works for the conservative group Citizens for a Sound Economy.