by Merrill Hope
DALLAS, Texas — On the week of November 17-21, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) will reconvene for a final week of meetings in the ongoing Social Studies textbook adoption process. Called Proclamation 2015 to reflect the 2015-16 school year that these instructional materials will be implemented. The Social Studies textbooks were last updated last in 2002.
A new 469-page Social Studies Textbook Review compiled by Truth in Texas Textbooks (TTT) was presented to the SBOE and the publishers. It is now online. It covers subjects of World History, U.S. History, World Geography & Culture, Texas History, US Government and Economics that were presented to the SBOE for adoption consideration. There is also a Summary of Findings of Factual Errors, Omission of Facts, Half-Truths and Agenda Bias.
Breitbart Texas has reported on the Social Studies adoption process, noting Texas Freedom Network’s (TFN) beef with the open and transparent process that requires public participation. Breitbart Texas also reported on the troubling textbook findings that emerged — blaring historical omissions, factual errors and leftwing bias.
TFN education establishment progressives have painstakingly tried to convince Americans that the Texas public K-12 Social Studies department has been taken hostage by the Tea Party and Christian evangelicals.
Through TFN’s Education Fund (TFNEF), they “contracted” professors at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, the University of Mary Washington in Virginia and the University of Texas at Austin for a review independent of the one conducted by the SBOE, according to TFN.
In the ideological war for the classroom, TFN president Kathy Miller was a CSCOPE proponent. TFN is sympathetic to Common Core, which was not adopted in Texas. The non-profit claims to be non-partisan. In 2014, they contributed to the Texas Democratic Party.
Breitbart Texas looked at TFNEF’s Texas Rising, which seeks out “young leaders” on Texas college campuses for the group’s stated mission — to develop a “social justice-minded” generation to push “progressive public policy in Texas.”
On the other hand, TTT, also conducted an independent review. Coalition founder Ret. Lt. Col. Roy White told Breitbart Texas they formed for the “single purpose of improving the factual accuracy of social studies textbooks for the five million children of Texas who will use these textbooks beginning in the 2015-16 school year.”
These unpaid reviewers included scholars, curriculum accuracy experts and 100-plus volunteers who donated thousands of hours to reviewing the Social Studies textbook. Among them were Dr. Andrew Bostom, Associate Professor of Medicine at Brown University Medical School also known for his recognized analyses on Islam, Jihad and Muslim anti-Semitism; and Dr. Amy Jo Baker, the retired director of Social Studies for the San Antonio Independent School District and president of the Texas Council for History Education. She is affiliated with the National Council for History Education.
Dr. Sandra Alfonsi, who oversees textbook review programs for ACT! for America and Textbook Alert, also participated. Previously, she told Breitbart Texas that the textbooks were loaded up with bias — progressive bias.
TTT reviewed the same textbooks as TFN — from publishing giants Pearson, McGraw Hill, Discovery Education, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Worldview, Perfection, and Cengage.
TFN’s review netted hysterical headlines about Moses as the father of our country. A former SMU educrat trembled to the Texas Tribune that students would believe that the Hebrew lawgiver “was the first American.”
Barring leftwing hyperbole, someone thought he played some role. The perceived likeness of Moses adorns the US Supreme Court with the 10 Commandments. He is also the central of 23 historical figures hanging overhead in the House Chamber of the United States Capitol.
The Washington Post, the Associated Press (AP) and the Huffington Post all chimed in on TFN’s false narrative, alleging a fantastical rightwing grip on Texas public education, attacking the textbook adoption process itself for allowing Joe Public to participate, and slamming the Texas education state standards, which TFN opposes.
In their review, TFN bashed government and U.S. history textbooks that “suffer from an uncritical celebration of the free enterprise system.” They lamented that the “legitimate problems of capitalism” and “the government’s role in the U.S. economic system” were omitted. They targeted the Tea Party repeatedly. In one instance, they blamed constitutional conservatives for one government book espousing “anti-taxation and anti-regulation arguments.”
TFN’s never-ending left-of-left politically motivated agenda included the usual suspects — climate change science and social justice-based math, but what about the facts?
Ironically, TFN’s meme of textbook honesty has been “Those who don’t know history are destined to delete it.”
TTT’s review was equally revealing, addressing factual flaws that TFN academic sleuths overlooked or missed.
For example, in Pearson Magruder’s American Government, the pivotal role that the 40th U.S. President Ronald Reagan played in the Berlin Wall being torn down was omitted. In fact, the factually documented work of Reagan, Britain’s then Prime Minister, the late Margaret Thatcher, and the Pope in the fall of the Soviet Union was non-existent.
“The Soviet Union did not have the resources to implement a ‘Star Wars’ system that Reagan supported. Others have already chronicled the role Reagan, Thatcher, and John Paul II played in the last great revolution of the 20th century. That it was largely a peaceful revolution in the context of decades of nuclear menace makes it all the more breathtaking,” the TTT review stated.
Sometimes facts are just facts and they have no political agenda. Case in point: In Pearson’s United States History 1877 to Present students are given an exercise to analyze a map. They are asked what can they predict about where the major battles of World War I would be fought.
Problem was “they have not yet been given any of the facts concerning any of the reasons for WWI or the countries involved,” stated Alfonsi.
Before predicting events, she said students “need to be given the facts upon which they are to base their analysis.”
In another example, Pearson presented a misleading statistic as fact, accounting for “more than 120 million who did not vote in the last presidential election.” The correct figure is 102 million. The TTT review explained that textbook writers erroneously folded into their calculation, 20 million resident aliens.
“Resident aliens are not allowed to vote in federal elections. Their voting in federal elections is a criminal offense that can result in one year in prison and deportation,” the TTT review noted.
This flub came up in McGraw Hill’s U.S. History to 1877 — three lessons on Islam were inserted into a chapter on North American development and history. TTT tagged it “irrelevant to the topic.”
Houghton Mifflin’s United States History: Early Colonial Period through Reconstruction also plunked irrelevant Islamic history into a Teacher’s Edition class exercise “designed to focus student attention on Islam,” wrote Baker and Alfonsi.
Discovery Education felt the same urge to plop the Arab world into 19th Century American history. In U.S. History: Civil War to Present, a drawing of the Arabian Coast in 1859 accompanies a drawing that describes how, with the advent of the telegraph in America, “companies rushed to put up telegraph lines all across the country and the seas.”
The American West’s cowboy was historically attributed to 8th Century North African Moors by Discovery Education. The role of the horse was credited incorrectly to the Spaniards first learning to handle horses and use them effectively as wartime tools because of the Moors. TTT noted that the Spain’s history with the horse pre-dated the Moors’ invasion.
Islamic historical intrusions appeared in other American history books. In a section about annexing the Philippines was instead a “story from the Byzantine Empire.” A Women of the West chapter linked to 10 videos on the women of Afghanistan in the “more to explore” section. Immigrant Women contained videos on Israel and the Middle East.
TTT scholars agreed that these videos were more appropriate in a World History and not US History textbook. Conversely, TFN lamented negative stereotypes of Islam in their report.
In a Houghton-Mifflin US History book, the importance of the Bill of Rights was omitted “even though events that are counter to those rights are addressed,” the review emphasized.
McGraw Hill’s American Revolution chapter in U.S. History to 1877 deleted the battles of Lexington and Concord. There was no mention of Paul Revere other than in a side reference to him as a former slave’s ride. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were the only Southern Generals acknowledged historically. Not even Braxton Bragg, namesake of Fort Bragg, was mentioned.
TTT reviewers found that McGraw Hill’s U.S. History to 1877 largely ignored the checks and balance system of American government and left out that members of the courts (judiciary) have to be nominated by the President and approved by the Senate.
Examples of PC cherry-picked information in McGraw Hill’s American Government included “executive privilege” It was presented with former president Bush invoking six privileges, “including to avoid giving Congress information on the use of FBI mob informants” while President Obama was said to have invoked the privilege by executive order only one time for “Fast and Furious.” Reviewers noted biased diction that made Bush’s actions appear nefarious while Obama’s noble. President Clinton’s 14 executive privileges were not mentioned.
Partial truths ran rampant, according to the TTT review. Houghton Mifflin told half of the story of DDT, the insecticide, exposing the negative effects but none of the positive, primarily in curtailing malaria outbreaks in Africa.
TTT noted that Hispanic-rights groups La Unida Raza (La Raza) and MEChA were depicted only in a positive light, omitting Reconquista calls to overthrow the U.S. government. This radical ideology was the reason Tucson Unified School District shut down and banned its Mexican-American Studies program in Arizona.
In other textbooks, pro-lifers were depicted as aggressive “abortion foes” while pro-abortion demonstrators were portrayed as peaceful. Hezbollah was never mentioned as an Islamic terrorist organizations but again, the Tea Party was called out as “militant, radical and fascist.”
Another textbook stated that the U.S. has a “national government,” which TTT reviewers cited as factually incorrect. “The U.S. Constitution created a ‘federal’ government of nation-states that grant a federal system limited powers,” they stated. “Limited powers” of the federal government was omitted. Worldview’s American History left out America’s founding fathers.
Right now, publishers are responding to these textbook reviews and SBOE recommendations. White hopes that after reading TTT’s findings, concerned Texans will attend the final textbook adoption meetings. Public comments are encouraged at the meeting on Tuesday, November 18, at 1 PM in Austin. The SBOE votes on the Social Studies books on Friday, November 21.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.