Widely Adopted History Textbooks
Publications & Reports
The Council's databases, developed since 1986, survey publishers’ websites, key states and large school districts to determine what are the nation's most widely adopted textbooks in history and social studies. These lists apply solely to textbooks (instructional materials) and not to trade publications, which from History of Us (Oxford) to A People’s History (HarperCollins) have wide classroom audiences. These lists have been updated to the 2011-12 academic year.
In 2010, after a year of conflict and the media spotlight the Texas state board of education adopted controversial social studies standards. Texas is important because of its national impact on instructional materials, larger than California’s because it adopts textbooks at all grade levels. In addition, California suspended textbook adoptions in 2009. California state policy is in flux. It appears now that the state will abandon its longstanding kindergarten through eighth grade textbook adoption process.
Click here to go to the 2010 Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Social Studies code.
Today millions of Americans think that in 2010 Christian extremists on the Texas state school board engineered a radical history overhaul destined to corrupt textbooks nationwide, whatever the fine points and actual language of the final version. If it was a conservative victory, it was a Pyrrhic victory.
At the time multicultural leftists on the board tried to use the hearings to their political advantage. "They are re-writing history," fumed Mary Helen Berlanga, a longtime board member and Hispanic activist. She told the New York Times, "They can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don't exist."
The state board’s Christian activists soon thereafter, losing credibility to Americans of all backgrounds, exulted in their power, exposed themselves as ill-informed on the subject of Islam in the curriculum.
In 2009 strident Christian education activists on the board had stirred deep animosity in Texas and across the nation insisting on recognition of anti-evolutionary Biblical literalism during state review of science standards.
During the 2009 science adoption, they attempted to strong-arm creationism into Texas science standards. Board president Don McLeroy, a man of few doubts, said that the world was 10,000 years old and insisted textbook publishers acknowledge this fact. His demands and bluster made him no friends, and intra-board animosity grew from then on.
Texas liberals, especially pro-choice and anti-Christian progressives, were looking for trouble. Kathy Miller at the Texas Freedom Network, a leftist coalition that has the ear of the mainstream media, invented the talking point that the right wing had stricken Thomas Jefferson from the document. (A calculated misrepresentation that made it into the New York Times and Washington Post.) With headlines like "Texas Textbook Massacre: Ultraconservatives Approve Radical Changes to State Education Curriculum," the Huffington Post ramped up the leftist rhetoric, countered by a Fox News-led effort to defend the standards and make heroes of the Texas board.
Board president Donald McLeroy had a thin grasp of vexing interpretive issues that bedevil thoughtful historians. He knew better than the experts. He was out of his league but didn't seem to care. He was enjoying his media moment. His loyalty tests and votes offended state experts who might have been his allies. When much of the press tried to smear him as a rural cretin, it only strengthened his resolve.
Diversity advocates like Mary Helen Berlanga and Kathy Miller, no matter what concessions are made, can never get enough. They insist on remaking history their way, victim by victim. When they don't get their way, to create shock, they often exaggerate, accusing their adversaries of heinous offenses, with most reporters uncritical of their complaints.
If what has happened in Texas is any indicator, all future efforts to check diversity themes in social studies will be tagged "a sharp departure from widely accepted historical teachings," as an inflammatory California legislative act soon claimed.
Multicultural revisionists label their adversaries racists, bigots, nativists, and other ugly names with the intention to suspend all critical examination. Whether or not these epithets and techniques will continue to work politically in the future is an open question.
Texas was not re-writing textbooks. The new standards on the whole conformed to what's already in textbooks, and the impact on history textbooks nationwide will be very limited.
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