The elected Texas Board of Education today adopted a resolution that warns textbook publishers to be careful and provide fair treatment of the world's religions – or face being snubbed by the state that buys more textbooks than any other.
The resolution, introduced by former Texas school board member Randy Rives, states: "Resolved, That the SBOE will look to reject future prejudicial social studies submissions that continue to offend Texas law with respect to treatment of the world's major religious groups by significant inequalities of coverage space-wise and/or by demonizing or lionizing one or more of them over others."
The resolution, adopted on a 7-6 vote, declares that "pro-Islamic/anti-Christian half-truths, selective disinformation, and false editorial stereotypes still roil some social studies textbooks nationwide," including some "politically correct whitewashes of Islamic culture and stigmas on Christian civilization."
The resolution included pages of footnotes documenting the specific offenses discovered in various textbooks, including "patterns of pejoratives toward Christians and superlatives toward Muslims, calling Crusaders aggressors, 'violent attackers,' or 'invaders' while euphemizing Muslim conquest of Christian lands as 'migrations' by 'empire builders.'"
Jonathan Saenz, director of legislative affairs for the non-profit legal advocacy group Liberty Institute, told WND the vote "sends a strong message that Texas state board members, and really speaking on behalf of the people they represent, care about keeping textbooks accurate."
"They are against religious discrimination. That sends a message," he said.
Publishers, he said, "will have to live up to standards."
Saenz said the board, whose members are elected by voters, are serving their responsibility to be a "check" on the products used in the state's schools.
The resolution discusses world history textbooks officially adopted for use in Texas between 1999 and 2002, which may still be in some classrooms. The resolution also discusses textbooks used in other parts of the country. In Texas, world history textbooks are used at the high school level.
The resolution pointed out grounds for board concerns.
"In one instance, devoting 120 student text lines to Christian beliefs, practices, and holy writings but 248 (more than twice as many) to those of Islam; and dwelling for 27 student text lines on Crusaders' massacre of Muslims at Jerusalem in 1099 yet censoring Muslims' massacres of Christians there in 1244 and at Antioch in 1268, implying that Christian brutality and Muslim loss of life are significant but Islamic cruelty and Christian deaths are not."
Another point of contention is book authors "spending 139 student text lines on Christian beliefs, practices, and holy writings but 176 on those of Islam; claiming Islam 'brought untold wealth to thousands and a better life to millions,' while 'because of [Europeans' Christian] religious zeal … many peoples died and many civilizations were destroyed;' and contrasting 'the Muslim concern for cleanliness' with Swedes in Russia who were 'the filthiest of God's creatures.'"
The resolution noted the state's law requires reinforcement of "the basic democratic values of our state and national heritage," along with the requirement that "no instructional material may be adopted that contains content that clearly conflicts with the stated purpose of the Texas Education Code."
One book that was examined was "World History, Patterns of Interaction" published by McDougal. The footnotes noted that it has been reported that the Dubai royal family was a "major shareholder" in the Education Media and Publishing Group, which controls textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
"We're just trying to protect the school children of Texas," Rives told WND in preparation for the vote. "We have documented that in the past there was some pro-Islamic and anti-Christian literature in some of our textbooks. We want to put textbook companies on notice that if this happens again, it can cause your textbooks to be rejected."
Rives also noted the prominent national role Texas plays in textbook disputes.
"We are the largest buyer of textbooks in the United States, and publishers like to try to get others states to accept the same version [we use]. What we do in Texas influences the rest of the nation, and we need to take that seriously and make sure an agenda isn't pushed through the textbooks."
Rives told Alana Goodman of the Alexandria, Va.-based Culture and Media Institute, "In the social studies books we need to make sure that our democratic values are depicted and that's not just my opinion, that's what the Texas education code says."
Much to the dismay of the Dallas Morning News, the resolution also warns that "more such discriminatory treatment of religion may occur as Middle Easterners buy into the U.S. public school textbook oligopoly, as they are now doing."
DMN's Terrence Stutz reported that the resolution "offered no specific evidence of such investments," despite the footnote regarding the Dubai royal family.
As WND reported, American public school textbooks have been used to promote Islam, and publishing company executives are primarily responsible for the content of the texts.