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Textbook Censorship in the Lone Star State

By nomadic in Op-Ed
Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 08:49:38 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

When you think of textbook censorship these days, what usually springs to mind are the attacks against teaching evolution that have sprung up in some places. Changing educational materials to reflect ideological goals is unfortunately a lot more common than that. The New York Times recently published an article about how the Texas Board of Education (which controls textbook procurement statewide) rejects textbooks that it feels goes against their right-wing ideology.


A popular American history book was rejected because it had two paragraphs dealing with prostitution on the early American frontier. An environmental science textbook that talked about global warming was turned down in favor of one that was partly financed by a consortium of mining companies. Unfortunately, too many publishers are knuckling under to these kind of demands in order to get into the lucrative Texas market. For some reason this just enrages me, that a bunch of Bible-thumping, oil-drilling yahoos get to rewrite reality because they don't like it. I mean, I just couldn't imagine raising a child in Texas and sending them to public school to be brainwashed by these right-wing lunatics. Anyone in Texas (or anywhere else) care to rebut/debate/agree?

I understand if you want to try to eliminate perceived political bias in your textbooks. But when you start eliminating facts simply because you're uncomfortable, you're moving into Orwellian space, where you rewrite history to advance your own prejudices, you might as well just give up altogether. Eliminating prostitution from a history textbook doesn't change the fact that prostitution existed.

The weird part is that sometimes factual inaccuracies are entered not out of ideological fervor, but rather out of even more ridiculous reasons. For example, we learn in elementary school that Columbus discovered the New World because he alone realized that the earth was round. Now most of you probably know that this is completely bogus; he discovered the New World because he made a rather boneheaded navigation error, and his critics were right that Asia was too far away to reach by going west. Why are schoolchildren taught the incorrect version? Because it's easier to remember. Because otherwise you might have to take an in-depth look at what really happened. Because real history is just too messy, so we learn bite-sized little factoids, the kinds of things you see on roadside restaurant sugar packets.

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Textbook Censorship in the Lone Star State | 146 comments (98 topical, 48 editorial, 1 hidden)
I am reminded (4.40 / 5) (#8)
by sasquatchan on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 12:11:00 PM EST

of the anecdote related in "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" where he details the time he spent reviewing text books for the school board, and how he found so many technical errors/inaccuracies/outright lies in the books, but the other reviewers gave the books a thumbs-up. When the other reviewers were asked if they actually read the books, most said, "no".
-- The internet is not here for your personal therapy.
Ah yeah... (5.00 / 2) (#12)
by BigZaphod on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 12:29:27 PM EST

Awesome book.  I remember having a sort of revelation when I read that part which put all of my last 15 or so years (at the time) of school into perspective.  Sad, though.

"We're all patients, there are no doctors, our meds ran out a long time ago and nobody loves us." - skyknight
[ Parent ]
Textbooks (4.50 / 2) (#25)
by zakalwe on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 12:58:27 PM EST

A lot of textbooks are filled with errors. Take a look at Bad Science to see some examples of this. Its rather alarming the number of errors and misleading information I recognise as also being present in the textbooks we used at school.

[ Parent ]
Even more amazing reference (5.00 / 1) (#116)
by thebrix on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 01:11:26 PM EST

This one is pretty sobering reading.

As well as 'bad science' there's also 'omitted science'; the physics school courses I did in Scotland in the mid-1980s stopped about 1913. There was the briefest mention of the Bohr hydrogen atom, no other quantum mechanics and no relativity at all!

I also remember (from Francis Crick's autobiography?) that, in his undergraduate physics course, quantum mechanics was six optional lectures at the end. That was in the early 1940s ...

[ Parent ]

Read Feynman excerpt here (5.00 / 4) (#54)
by MuglyWumple on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 03:32:11 PM EST

Judging Books by Their Covers

[ Parent ]
Feynmann (none / 0) (#137)
by medham on Fri Jul 05, 2002 at 07:18:38 PM EST

As I've pointed out before, nearly brought the U.S. to its knees by his dogmatic oppositon to Edward Teller's weaponization programs. I attribute only to the vicissitudes of history the fact that we are still able to enjoy a free and open society after his treachery.

The fact that he's regarded as hero among the bespectacled male young sickens me.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Get Over Yourself... (2.75 / 16) (#13)
by thelizman on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 12:31:00 PM EST

The people of the State of Texas have the right to educate their children in a manner they see fit. If that means not teaching 12 year olds about whores in the frontier states, so what? And if it means presenting a balanced view of global warming (which is bullshit, because nobody can conclusively prove that there is global warming, much less that it is man-made), sweet.

Tell you what, you teach your kids what you want them to know, I'll teach my kids what I want them to know, and when they actually start to develop critical thinking skills they can make up their own minds about the rest. I don't know about you, but 90% of the shit I know that's worth knowing I learned after my public "edyoukayshun" ended.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
And I have the right to ridicule them mercilessly! (4.70 / 10) (#18)
by revscat on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 12:47:42 PM EST

The people of the State of Texas have the right to educate their children in a manner they see fit.

Yeah? And so what? Doesn't mean that they (we, I guess, since I'm a Texan) shouldn't be held up to ridicule and scorn if and when we do something stupid.

This tactic is getting so old.

  1. Someone criticizes you or a group you sympathize with
  2. Scream "oppression!" or "I/we/they have the right to do that!", when no one has attempted to take any rights away whatsoever
  3. Throw in a few hot-button phrases or keywords in response that really have nothing to do with the topic at hand. Ex: "The Texas Board of Education? Why, global warming is unprovable!"

Whatever. Hell, when Dubya was governor even he had run-ins with the Board over their bone-headed antics and crass pandering to the far-far-right wing. At one point he threatened to take away their ability to choose textbooks and hand it over to another agency. Mind you, this wasn't Ann Richards, this was Dubya!



- Rev.
Libertarianism is like communism: both look great on paper.
[ Parent ]
I think the point is ... (5.00 / 1) (#76)
by karb on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 05:07:34 PM EST

Some dunderheaded government moves are really because most of the people wherever are also dunderheaded.

In that case, criticizing the government is kind of fascist. Would you suggest that they go _against_ the will of the people? Sometimes it is prudent to do so, but not always.

I would say it would be fair to criticize texans for electing the school board, but not the school board itself, unless they verifiably went against public opinion and didn't have a good reason for it.

I don't think this maxim applies to _all_ public officials, but I the general assumptions that 'politicians should support X because X is good' or 'we need to elect politician Y because he supports X' are kind of daft. "Convince large numbers of people to tell their politicians that X is good" is better, expecially in a two-party system.
--
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?
[ Parent ]

Politics isn't about being popular (5.00 / 1) (#92)
by Hektor on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 11:51:16 PM EST

which is something most people have forgotten.

Politics:
"The art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs."

[one of many definitions]

Politics is about making decicions that are for the good of the nation/society - keeping people uninformed isn't good for anything.

I can certainly understand the sentiment, that "I will do what the people think is good for them", but good for the individual isn't always good for the nation/society. I am yet to meet/hear of a politician who would go against "the will of the people" for the greater good of society as a whole, without damaging the nation/society while doing it and not giving a rats ass about his career in politics while doing it.

I think Socrates (or was it Plato?) said it best: Give the power to those who want it the least.

[ Parent ]

I must disagree (4.00 / 1) (#107)
by revscat on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 09:43:46 AM EST

In that case, criticizing the government is kind of fascist. Would you suggest that they go _against_ the will of the people? Sometimes it is prudent to do so, but not always.

First off, I challenge your use of the word "fascist" in this context. IMHO, such usage cheapens the word. I am a citizen, without any power to enforce my will except my voice. Fascism, for me, implies a powerful entity who enforces their will without consideration for opposing views. In this context I don't think that public criticism of the government or marketplace can ever be "fascist." Fascism can only come from those who have power -- typically guns -- to back up their words.

I would say it would be fair to criticize texans for electing the school board, but not the school board itself, unless they verifiably went against public opinion and didn't have a good reason for it.

Well, for all we know they did go against public opinion. But be that as it may, sometimes the majority is right, and sometimes the majority is wrong. Merely because we are criticizing what may be a majority opinion does not immediately invalidate that criticism. To take an extreme example: Were the school board to decide to only take math books that held pi to be equal to 4, we would certainly be correct in criticising them for it.



- Rev.
Libertarianism is like communism: both look great on paper.
[ Parent ]
Freedom (none / 0) (#118)
by J'raxis on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 02:20:14 PM EST

In that case, criticizing the government is kind of fascist. Would you suggest that they go _against_ the will of the people? Sometimes it is prudent to do so, but not always.

The will of the people in this case is to force their own desire for ignorance on other people. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose.”

— The Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

Good point. (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by steveftoth on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 01:12:40 PM EST

In fact it's the best point I've heard in a long time.

There is too much focus on learning facts in schools and not enough on learning process. Learning how to learn is infinitely more useful then learning how to do something. Although history is a subject where all you have to learn are facts, I believe that we must teach people that just because a history book says so, doesn't always make it 100% true. After all a book is only as good as its author/translator/interpreter. At the end of the day it's your job to interpret what you read in a book and people are not taught how to tell the difference between what's on the page and what the author wrote.

[ Parent ]

"don't send your kids to texas public schools (none / 0) (#14)
by karb on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 12:31:10 PM EST

Conservatives have said the same thing about california. Now that I have grown up I realize that even in my small pennsylvania hometown schools I was taught a good deal of liberalism. :)

Besides, U.S. history textbooks (and this probably applies to every nation) already have many glaring omissions and problems. To reject a book that hasn't omitted something you would like to omit isn't much worse than accepting a book with one less glaring omission. I own a great book about it called Lies my teacher told me : Everything your american history book got wrong. (Sorry if the amazon link doesn't work).

I realize you are more disturbed about 'the trend' than the fact that border prostitution was marginalized. Well, we've had the trend for a long time, and we need to break it. But I hardly think having things slightly wrong or omitted from a high school history book is really 'rewriting history'. What the public thinks about history is irrelevant to the actual meat of the field.

As for the science textbooks, many conservatives aren't convinced that global warming is real. And since we live in a democracy, if your state is largely populated by aforementioned conservatives ...

Finally, remember my hometown? Despite receiving education about the evils of racism and the benefits of enviromentalism, we still have racists and no local greenpeace chapter. If you talk to your kids and they respect you, I don't think they'll have problems seeing past their 8th grade textbook.
--
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?

Uhm...rewrite... (2.40 / 5) (#15)
by thelizman on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 12:35:40 PM EST

As for the science textbooks, many conservatives aren't convinced that global warming is real. And since we live in a democracy, if your state is largely populated by aforementioned conservatives ...
Try "many scientists"...and the further burden of evidence is that if global warming is real, it's not necessarily caused by mankind. We are coming off an ice age, so any temperature increases could just as easily be explained in those terms.

I'm sorry folks, but the eruption of Mt Pinatubo put as much pollution into the atmoshpere as all of America did. Go protest the philippines already.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Well, the tricky thing is ... (4.00 / 3) (#93)
by Hektor on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 11:57:07 PM EST

what if you're wrong, and their right?

In that case, not changing our ways will only increase the rate of the increase, and by the time we finaly DO decide to change our ways, it might be entirely too late.

But - if you're right, but we change our ways anyway, what's the harm? Is it really that harmful to you, that you can no longer buy a car, that burns 4 gallons per mile, that your house is now insulated better than a cave, that your electric appliances no longer consume enough power to light up a small village?

If your right, what's the harm in changing our ways? Would be receede into the ice age, that we're just comming out of, and if so - wouldn't that prove the "greenies" right - that we are in fact the cause of global warming?

[ Parent ]

That's not democracy (4.66 / 3) (#127)
by joonasl on Fri Jul 05, 2002 at 03:00:53 AM EST

As for the science textbooks, many conservatives aren't convinced that global warming is real. And since we live in a democracy, if your state is largely populated by aforementioned conservatives ...

I think you have misundertood the basic consepts of democracy. In a democratic courtry politicans are not allowed to choose the facts that suit their political views. Instead, facts arise from free public debate, of which unbiased public education is a part of. Furthermore, unbiased education does not mean that you leave possibly debetable issues out of the curriculum, it means that you allow different view points and opinions.

The function of education should be more directed to giving the student facts and opinions and give them chance to form their own oppinions rather tham showing political rethorics down their throats.

For clarification, giving opposing oppinions a voice in the public schools does not mean that all unscientific rubbish should be present. Evolution and creationism are NOT "competing" scientific theories that should be giving equal representation in the biology classes. Creationism belongs to sunday school (or possibly not even there).


Writing a poem / with just seventeen syllables / is very diffic.
[ Parent ]

Democracy -> tyranny of the majority (none / 0) (#133)
by leviramsey on Fri Jul 05, 2002 at 03:21:43 PM EST

...unless other actions are taken (ie Constitutions, revolts, et al) to limit the power of the majority.



[ Parent ]
Where'd I hear about this... (none / 0) (#21)
by wji on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 12:55:10 PM EST

Something Jello Biafra said, I think. I don't know how credible of a source he is, but it's worth looking into. I think he said that most of the USA's textbooks are made in Texas. Anyone know about this?

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
Nope (none / 0) (#26)
by Work on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 01:00:58 PM EST

Scanning through my current textbooks, we have...New Jersey (prentice hall), Boston (Addison Wesley), New York (longman, Wiley), Harcourt Brace (does have a few texas cities)... i believe prentice hall and addison wesley are quite a bit larger than harcourt brace (HB's are pretty common in texas, dont know about the rest of the country..probably because they're made here)

[ Parent ]
Those are publisher addresses. (none / 0) (#126)
by haflinger on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 10:07:15 PM EST

Prentice Hall's offices are in New Jersey. That doesn't necessarily mean that their books are manufactured there.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
Re: Where'd I hear about this... (5.00 / 1) (#40)
by Robert Minichino on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 01:57:11 PM EST

Are you sure it wasn't the more metaphorical "conceptually founded" sense of 'made' and not the "manufactured" sense?

[ Parent ]
Lied to since day one. (4.66 / 6) (#24)
by Weakon on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 12:57:27 PM EST

Pretty much every book ever written is banned in some library in some city in the U.S. School libraries are the worst with the PTA deciding what magazines and books the kids should read during open hour. If you want to learn history, the best way, short of having been there, is to find books and read about it yourself.

The other funny thing about high school text books is that they allow more violence in the book than you can wear on your clothing. You can't have a picture of a beer can or a gun on your shirt but you can look at battle scenes and dead bodies in the history books. I always wanted to somehow get a gory battle picture from my history book on my shirt so I could annoy the faculty. But now that I'm in college I don't care anymore

Texas' influence (4.80 / 5) (#27)
by BadDoggie on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 01:07:08 PM EST

Odd that no one mentioned this yet: "60 Minutes" did a story on this years ago.

Texas is the largest purchaser of textbooks in the US, which means publishers cater to Texas. This means that if Texas doesn't want something in a book, there's a good chance the schoolchildren in Minnesota, Montana and even New York aren't going to see it.

Should there not be eucational minima which schoolchildren around the country are expected (or better yet, required) to achieve? This is for the benefit of society in general and for business, as well, and one must wonder why companies want idiots.

Businesses have a vested interest in their own workers being educated, and primary and secondary(and to a large extent, tertiary). They want the market to be drones, but most businesses need an educated workforce. Why don't they step in?

Just a very brief version of some of my observations. I have a feeling I'm gonna get trolled or at least dragged into a few long threads on this, so +1 it is.

woof.

Truth is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense.

Why don't they step in? (5.00 / 2) (#38)
by claudius on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 01:50:19 PM EST

I'd suspect that while businesses can, to some degree, be more efficient with an educated workforce, by and large they stand to gain little from having employees that appreciate the nuances of the global warming debate or are cognizant of the existence of "houses of ill repute" in the Wild West.  With the fluidity of capital in big corporations today, it is unrealistic to expect them to invest in something unless it will help bolster stock prices within the near future.

[ Parent ]
History evolves (4.00 / 5) (#32)
by jabber on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 01:31:56 PM EST

Just a few years ago, the mujahadeen were freedom-fighters. Now they're terrorists.

The history books are written by the winners, and it is impossible for humans to not offer an unbiased summary.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Not the point (none / 0) (#39)
by Irobot on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 01:50:55 PM EST

The point is that textbook writers are leaving out topics/circumstances that are known to be factually incorrect.

Irobot
Irobot

The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous. -- Margot Fonteyn
[ Parent ]

Sounds like (4.00 / 1) (#45)
by jabber on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 02:09:00 PM EST

Proofreading.  ;)

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Rewriting history... (5.00 / 3) (#56)
by crcerror on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 03:38:18 PM EST

That's essentially what the parent poster was saying, the "facts" are controlled by the winners.

Winners of what? The winners of a war, the fellows with the most money and/or power, etc. History is culturally subjective thing. Not that I support rewriting the history books, I think it's wrong and people should fight it but it's been going on for quite some time.

I'm 21 and the number one thing that I hear whenever I get into historical discussions people from an older generation, whether that be coworkers or my parents, is that I was obviously never taught anything in my history class. In grade school, I was reamed out by my teacher for portraying Native American's as being slaughtered by the people that arrived in North America. Ahem, that is what happened? In high school, we were taught the basics of the Civil War and a tad about World War II (which started with Pearl Harbor, we never learned anything about what lead up to it) and occasionally had sessions where we discussed current events. Never really learned any world history, nothing about Vietnam, etc.

I don't know how it is in the rest of the world but in the U.S. (at least where I've been raised), the rewriting of history occurs far beyond the rewriting of the books. Schools just don't teach it.


[ Parent ]
You see... (5.00 / 2) (#68)
by Irobot on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 04:45:43 PM EST

I agree with you that history is mistaught. (My wife actually got into an argument with one of her professors about people prior to Columbus knowing the world was round. He wouldn't concede the point until she brought in 3 separate articles stating such. At which point, he basically told her to go away. At a *university*, mind you! What an ass!)

My point is, the existence of prositutes on the frontier is a *fact*. The slaughter of Native Americans (by whatever means) is a *fact*. The parent comment said,

Just a few years ago, the mujahadeen were freedom-fighters. Now they're terrorists.
No one is denying their *existence* (for whatever purpose). Instead, they're just using a pejorative term. If you held the same beliefs as that group, you'd probably dismiss whatever it is you were reading that called them terrorists.

Think of it this way: If you read up on 19th century US history and no mention of lynch mobs or slavery at all were made, it'd be what the article was speaking of (highly exaggerated, of course). If, instead, a history book said, "Those grand old plantation owners had to keep those black folk in line to cure them of their evil ways, since they're predisposed to violence and stupidity" it would be akin to the parent post about "winners writing history." At least it would give the reader the opportunity to say, "But that's *stupid* and *racist*! What the fuck kind of crap are they feeding us?"

Now here's an interesting question: Which is more detrimental overall - reporting slanted views or leaving something out entirely? In a sense, it's like secrecy in the government - do you spin a situation or cover it up? Personally, I'm on the side of open information...I'd rather have spin that I can scoff at than never hear about it at all...

Irobot
Irobot

The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous. -- Margot Fonteyn
[ Parent ]

The War of 1812 (4.00 / 1) (#136)
by Gord ca on Fri Jul 05, 2002 at 06:04:10 PM EST

The last war faught on Canadian soil was the War of 1812 (not counting a couple rebellions that the USians willn't've even heard of) (or the fact that Canada was part of England at the time). The war ended indecisively, with neither side in a position to dominate the other. So they both kinda claimed victory.

To this day, American textbooks claim that America won the war; Canadian textbooks claim that the Brittish won. Even though we're best buddies (usually...), these things don't die.

(I don't think that this happens with 100% of the books. Anyone who's actually read a relevant textbook care to back me up?)

If I'm attacking your idea, it's probably because I like it
[ Parent ]

Statewide Redistricting (3.50 / 4) (#35)
by n8f8 on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 01:43:08 PM EST

In Texas, as in many states, the members of the State School Board are Democratically elected. So what the citizens of Texas are getting are decisions make by the people they voted into office.

But a little more digging would have lead you to the real reason the NYT is making such a big fuss. Due to statewide redistricting plans, all 15 seats on the board are up for re-election. So, normal complaints aside, this is really about political mudslinging.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)

Mudslinging... (5.00 / 4) (#66)
by Danse on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 04:08:23 PM EST

How is this mudslinging? It's information that is important to know. Why is it that whenever someone says something about another politician that that politician would rather people not know, it's called mudslinging? These are simple facts. After reading the article, it's glaringly obvious that the Texas Board has absolutely no concern for facts. Look at some of the specific changes they made. They are much more concerned with appearances and possible financial impact than they are with providing students with the facts. If it's mudslinging to point that out, then we need a lot more mudslinging in this country.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Look At the Current Board (1.50 / 6) (#75)
by n8f8 on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 05:07:09 PM EST

Currently the board is evenly split. Pundits are predicting a conservative majority after the elections. So the only reason this gets to be national NYT news is because of a bunch of whiney New York liberals (the same bozos who think New York should dictate government policy to the rest of the country).

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
So what? (4.00 / 1) (#86)
by Danse on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 07:21:08 PM EST

Just because the board is split, it's wrong to state facts? I'm terribly sorry if the conservatives on the board would rather keep this quiet, but the people who have to choose should know about it. If the people agree, then what's the problem? If the people don't agree, then shouldn't they elect someone that they agree with? That's called democracy right? Gotta be able to make an informed decision.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Facts? (none / 0) (#141)
by n8f8 on Sat Jul 06, 2002 at 12:11:34 PM EST

I would agree with you if the NYT article would have bother to either mention the Redistricting, the "fact" that the majority of the board as it currently stands isn't conservative. This isn't a fact based article. It's a political hack job that mistateds the "facts" to achieve a political end. But then again, from my own experience in college and work, most liberals are to stupid to notice the difference.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
umm... (none / 0) (#146)
by Danse on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 02:22:24 AM EST

What difference does it make that the board isn't conservative or that there is a redistricting coming up? That has absolutely no bearing on what the article is about. The story is either true or it's not. The people that have to vote should know about what the board has done. Period. It doesn't matter if that adversely affects the boardmembers' political careers. They made the decisions. Let them deal with the consequences of the public knowing their decisions. I would expect the same kind of information about the board's actions if it was a liberal board instead of conservative.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Pearl Harbor memorial (none / 0) (#36)
by Irobot on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 01:45:18 PM EST

I lived in Hawai'i not too long ago and there was an uproar over the movie that was shown before people went to see the Arizona. You see, the Japanese were portrayed as having maliciously attacked the US naval fleet. This cast a negative impression of Japanese people, was considered un-PC, and was subsequently changed.

I never saw the new film; I didn't have the heart.

Irobot
Irobot

The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous. -- Margot Fonteyn

Agreed (3.28 / 7) (#42)
by demi on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 02:05:26 PM EST

For some reason this just enrages me, that a bunch of Bible-thumping, oil-drilling yahoos get to rewrite reality because they don't like it.

Yeah, why can't I just cram my idea of reality down their throats and force them to accept it? Certainly, the standards for teaching history in US classrooms should be determined by people that are verifited to have subscriptions to Mother Jones dating back at least 5 years. Only then can our young minds be taught the truth.

Bah... (5.00 / 3) (#58)
by Danse on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 03:47:14 PM EST

There's a difference between opinions and facts. The Texas Board doesn't seem to be disputing the facts, they are simply refusing to allow some facts to be taught because it conflicts with their ideals/opinions.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
huge spectrum of facts (2.00 / 1) (#69)
by demi on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 04:46:52 PM EST

To teach a standardized course for high school level students, it's simply a matter of choosing what facts should be included and which facts are superfluous and/or disruptive. If a Texas school board decides that the inclusion of certain material is divergent with their teaching goals, they are free to be critical if they want. If someone wants to learn about the historical importance of prostitution in the western US during the 19th century, it's not like they are barred access to that information.

If the publishers don't want to alter their books, nobody is forcing them to do so. They have to weigh the options: do we want their business, or do we want to stand by our authors and editors? Since the decisions the Texas board makes tend to have standardizing effects across the country, it's not suprising that the publishers might decide that two paragraphs won't make the difference between students being free thinkers or robots.

[ Parent ]

The problem.. (5.00 / 3) (#73)
by Danse on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 05:00:45 PM EST

I wouldn't even have a problem with them removing certain parts or adding in others if they had good reasons for it. Did you read the reasons they gave? They might as well have just said "Hell no we can't include that! That could seriously screw with my stock portfolio!" And in another case, "If we add that in, then it could ruin the image of the noble, righteous Christian frontiersmen." They claim that the books are biased, but their bias seems MUCH more evident, and self-interested than that of the publisher.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
actually (2.00 / 1) (#80)
by demi on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 05:33:20 PM EST

I did indeed read the article, and there was a (small) teacher-led protest here at Rice related to the controversy a week or so ago. From the NYT article:
"The book says that there were 50,000 prostitutes west of the Mississippi. I doubt it, but even if there were, is that something that should be emphasized? Is that an important historical fact?"
It sounds to me that the 'fact' is, at the very least, open to interpretation, and I cannot see where this person's objection (that it may not really be necessary for teaching a survey of US history) deserves your mockery of their pride. And the fact that they adopted an environmental science textbook that was partially supported by an industrial consortium is a really ignorant attempt at a smear; it's actually very commonplace for primary science reference books to be published that way. I'd be very wary of reading any general education book on climate science to begin with, since it seems that there is so much disagreement both in public and amongst researchers.

They claim that the books are biased, but their bias seems MUCH more evident, and self-interested than that of the publisher.

Yes, the board shows its bias, because they have been assigned to select textbooks that will most effectively accomplish the legislated goal of the Texas Board of Education. As for matters of self-interest, it's their state, their children, and their schools, whose interests do you really expect them to defend?

This whole issue has been gone over a million times before in the anti-PC backlash at the college level, but now that it's the right-wing hicks in the crosshairs we can feel free to talk of censorship, brainwashing, and fascism. I don't agree with their decision, I'm not a Christian, or even a proper conservative, but if a community or state-appointed school board wants to teach certain material, I say let them do so.

[ Parent ]

Not quite... (5.00 / 1) (#85)
by Danse on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 07:14:05 PM EST

As for matters of self-interest, it's their state, their children, and their schools, whose interests do you really expect them to defend?

I guess I should have been more clear. What I meant is that they are not serving the interests of their state, their children, their schools, etc. They are serving their own personal interests above all others.

Yes, the board shows its bias, because they have been assigned to select textbooks that will most effectively accomplish the legislated goal of the Texas Board of Education.

Then you agree that they are biased, so why are they claiming that the books are biased and that they should be strictly objective and only state the facts? That's not really what they are interested in. They don't want objective facts. They want only those facts that won't hurt their wallet and the facts that present the world as they would like people to believe it is.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
You are naive, sir. (1.00 / 1) (#113)
by Work on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 12:16:33 PM EST

First of all, anything regarding the education of children is highly controversial from the beginning. Parents, teachers and so on, all have their own agendas. As such the board of education is always under fire no matter what they do.

Secondly, is it not possible to have a book be completely objective. This is especially true in history. The first thing a professor in a low-level college history course will tell you is "always remember the viewpoint of the author". History is up for interpretation by whoever reads or studies it. The same goes for virtually every other discipline. And then there are those where the so-called 'facts' simply aren't in yet. Global warming comes to mind. That's a highly contentious issue among scientists alike.

As such, the board must balance the groups frothing at the mouth at them, and the books the publishers are trying to print.

[ Parent ]

Not naive... (none / 0) (#121)
by Danse on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 04:44:23 PM EST

I prefer to consider myself skeptical, especially where money is concerned. It was obvious that money was a significant factor in their decision. They are trying not to print anything negative about oil/gas production because it could upset that industry. Nevermind that there is plenty of evidence for the damage it causes. While global warming may or may not be a natural phenomenon as the industry claims, they certainly can't claim that the smog that envelops cities like Los Angeles and Houston is a natural phenomenon. Nor can anyone claim that clear-cutting rainforests is a good thing for the environment, yet they cut that part out as well. Of course we can't have books that say those kinds of things, even though they are facts. It could cause financial repercussions if people were educated about these things. Then they might vote with their wallets. Educated consumers might not make the right choices. Wouldn't that suck for the oil/gas/timber industries and those that invest heavily in them? Besides, the people of Texas should get to read about the decisions that the board is making, and why they are making those decisions, so that they can decide for themselves whether they agree or not.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
LA smog (none / 0) (#122)
by Work on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 04:50:31 PM EST

actually much of LA's problem lies in its location makes it susceptible to inversion layers which trap the smog down.

And yes, that is natural :)

As for the books, theres hardly any evidence that oil interests have anything to do with selection of textbooks. That's uncorrorborated mudslinging.

[ Parent ]

sure... (4.00 / 1) (#123)
by Danse on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 07:26:36 PM EST

Now who's being naive?






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
I may have misses it. (2.00 / 4) (#61)
by /dev/trash on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 03:54:02 PM EST

But, what age group was this textbook, that mentioned prositution, targeting? 8 year olds? Ban it. juniors in high school, let it go.

---
Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
High School Advanced History (n/t) (5.00 / 2) (#64)
by MuglyWumple on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 04:02:07 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Much larger than Texas (5.00 / 7) (#62)
by MuglyWumple on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 03:58:57 PM EST

It is not just an issue of a state doing what is best for itself. It is instead a few states deciding what is best for the country.

Two quotes from Association of American Educators
"Textbooks supplied to three states, California, Texas, and Florida--all of which give significant influence to state agencies for textbook selection-- account for 30 percent of the more than $3.3 billion K-12 textbook market in 1998, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Four publishers (McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt, and Pearson) control 70 percent of the industry."
and
"The process for putting books in front of children then looks something like this: The "big three" states draw up textbook adoption policies to which the "big four" publishers try to align their textbook content. Their product, thus aligned to and adopted by these "content leaders," then trickles out to other states wielding considerably less fiscal influence on the content development process."
From The Textbook Conundrum: What Are Our Children Learning and Who Decides?

Shakespeare (5.00 / 5) (#63)
by gbd on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 04:01:41 PM EST

Does anybody know if there are still bowdlerized "Texas versions" of the works of Shakespeare to prevent Texas children from being exposed to some of the more "subversive" and/or "adult" themes? I seem to recall a law that banned the works of Shakespeare in Texas in their original form (that law may even still be in effect, but I doubt if it's enforced any more.)

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
uhm, no. (5.00 / 1) (#82)
by Work on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 05:37:34 PM EST

maybe decades ago, but this certainly hasnt been true within at least the past 20 years.

[ Parent ]
Not in today's Texas, apparently (none / 0) (#143)
by StephenFuqua on Sat Jul 06, 2002 at 08:40:33 PM EST

I certain encountered plenty of raciness of in my high school Shakespeare... hell, we even watched the unedited Romeo and Juliet in 9th grade English! And that was in a very conservative town, Plano. Yeah, many of you in the US will know Plano as the teen-heroin capital. Back in the 80's, it was the teen-suicide capital. But very rich and very conservative. That's where Dick Armey, the Republican House Majority Leader, comes from.



[ Parent ]
Yeah, happened to me (4.66 / 3) (#89)
by revscat on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 08:56:26 PM EST

I went to high school in glorious Mesquite, Texas, and they had several of the bawdier lines cut from Hamlet. Remember when Hamlet says "Did you think I meant country matters?" Gone. I didn't even realize it until I got to college and found out that Shakespeare could even *be* a bit rascally.

So yes, it does happen.



- Rev.
Libertarianism is like communism: both look great on paper.
[ Parent ]
By no means just Texas (none / 0) (#115)
by thebrix on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 01:03:58 PM EST

Yes (as the Perrin book makes clear). Such things are still kicking around in the United Kingdom; I remember 'school Shakespeare' anthologies, and similar. In retrospect the slightly sinister thing is that I had no idea that these anthologies were bowdlerised until I read what Shakespeare actually wrote off my own bat.

En passant I would say the Readers' Digest is the most tremendous extant engine of bowdlerisation - 'all strong emotions surgically removed' ;)

[ Parent ]

Charles Dickens edited in Texas (none / 0) (#120)
by texchanchan on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 03:32:17 PM EST

Somebody heavily edited the version of Tale of Two Cities in the literature book for 9th graders (14-year-olds) used in Texas, some years back. But that book NEEDED editing. Dickens was paid by the word and it shows. Plus, of course, there's nothing indecent in his books, unless you count Little Em'ly running off with that cad Steerforth to revel in short-term illicit love.

[ Parent ]
Well, I didn't go to school in Texas. (4.50 / 2) (#125)
by haflinger on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 09:51:38 PM EST

Or even in the United States.

I went to high school in atlantic Canada, that wonderpiece of modernity.

It was astonishing what they did to Romeo and Juliet. It seemed that every year it just got shorter.

Tip for folks: When you remove all the sexual references from Romeo and Juliet, you wind up with a leaflet.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

-1: Nothing New (none / 0) (#79)
by leviramsey on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 05:26:04 PM EST

Most states have state-centralized textbook approval (Massachusetts is one of the few that don't). For instance, compare a Southern textbook on the Civil War to a New York textbook on the Civil War.



texts (4.00 / 2) (#87)
by John Thompson on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 07:25:45 PM EST

leviramsey wrote:

Most states have state-centralized textbook approval (Massachusetts is one of the few that don't). For instance, compare a Southern textbook on the Civil War to a New York textbook on the Civil War.

Unfortunately, the result of having state-approved textbooks is that large states overwhelm smaller states. For years now, textbook selection commitees in California and Texas have essentially mandated what publishers can publish. Smaller states, or school districts in states without state approval of textbooks end up having to buy the same books that Texas and California select because that's all that's on the market.



[ Parent ]
Really? (4.00 / 2) (#88)
by quartz on Wed Jul 03, 2002 at 07:46:51 PM EST

Most states have state-centralized textbook approval

Huh? The linked article states the exact opposite:

Most states, including New York, choose textbooks on a school-by-school or district-by-district basis, but Texas and California buy them through a formal statewide process

So who has it right, you or the New York Times?

--
Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.
[ Parent ]

Heard it before (4.25 / 4) (#100)
by andrewhy on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 04:21:00 AM EST

I read a book some years ago called "Lies My Teacher Told Me", about the outright ommisions and innacuracies present in public school textbooks. It's an unfortunate fact that so much of what is taught to youngsters today is oversimplified and often inaccurate. History is stripped of it's complexity and fascination and reduced to a set of facts to be memorized and regurgitated. And the authors of the textbooks know this.

As for the Texas Board of Education, it stands as the primary textbook approval board in the nation. IF a book doesn't get through Texas, it will likely not get published.

If "Noise" means uncomfortable sound, then pop music is noise to me -- Masami Akita, aka "Merzbow"

If this was Texas alone I'd be relieved (4.50 / 4) (#102)
by strlen on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 05:33:03 AM EST

The unfortunate situation is that it isn't. If these were conservatives alone, I'd be relieved, as I could simply turn to liberals to see the truth. But it simply isn't so. Both do so. Being in California, my AP US History (a class I recommend everyone to take, excellent class, period.) text book, was quite a bit biased to a degree. They've portrayed Barry Goldwater as a lunatic (what they failed to mention is that he fought for gay rights, was against the draft, and that the 'daisy girl' advertisment had a little factual basis). On the conservative side, they've called El Salvador of the 80's a "democracy", which it certainly wasn't.

So what's the answer? Rather then trying to push your own view of reality on the school, it's better to ensure that the school will teach your child how to analyze arguments and make decision for himself, how to do the research himself. Which I think is what the school *has* actually done for it (being actually _the_ #1 non-magnet public school in california, and being located in a neighborhood where property values were at many times in excess of a million dollars for a single story house). Another good idea would to simply substitute the public education system for at least a partially privatized one, and allow children from one neighborhood to attend a school in another neighborhood, voluntarily. And to draw the funding for school from state income taxes, rather than property taxes -- not only is it fair to the property owner, who actually aren't the majority of customers of public schools (but pay for all of the public school system), it will also bring in more money, even if each tax payer pays less. Minesotta actually has a system which incorporates both of my points, and they've got some of the best schools in the nation (ranking wise).



--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
No wonder the president is so ignorant (4.00 / 7) (#103)
by rdskutter on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 07:29:26 AM EST

Its not his fault. Its the history textbooks he was given to read at school.


If you're a jock, inflict some pain / If you're a nerd then use your brain - DAPHNE AND CELESTE

But... (5.00 / 1) (#108)
by mdtphillips on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 10:41:05 AM EST

Wasn't he educated in that bastion of liberal values, New England?
-- The avalanche has begun. It is too late for the pebbles to vote.
[ Parent ]
Correction... (none / 0) (#119)
by gnarled on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 02:42:41 PM EST

Correction: He partied in the bastion of liberal values.
--
I'm a firm believer in the philosophy of a ruling class. Especially since I rule. -Randal, Clerks
[ Parent ]
hmmm (3.50 / 2) (#105)
by dinu on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 08:36:06 AM EST

I never thought that US might become a stalinist like regime, but I guess it heading exactly that way. I have experienced a hardcore comunist regime (Mao like) in my childhood and it was doing the same things. Faking history, ommiting the parts that where not in concordance with their ideology and so on. We moved out of it but it looks like US is moving right into it.

Oh please. (3.00 / 1) (#112)
by Work on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 12:07:45 PM EST

There isnt a history textbook in the world which doesn't omit or gloss over certain things. Textbooks sold in america typically have far more about american history (or history from the american viewpoint), british books have it from the british viewpoint and so on.

As it deals with the education of children - which is controversial no matter where you go in the world - the textbook printers must be careful regarding controversial topics, lest their book not get published at all.

This is NOT NEW AT ALL. For example, in a college history poll taken just yesterday in a US history class, nearly a quarter of the students there had never been taught about japanese internment while in high school. A decade or two ago, I venture to say the numbers would've been far greater.

If you want a really good history education, go to college and major in history. I don't think high schoolers are any less competant for not knowing the prostitutes of the wild west.

[ Parent ]

Knowledge for all, not for some (5.00 / 2) (#130)
by avleenvig on Fri Jul 05, 2002 at 01:07:55 PM EST

I have to (rather strongly) disagree with some of your comments.
Going to college to study history, is a very good thing if you enjoy or like the studdy of history.

Unfortunately there are some things that need to be taught to ALL students.
An example of this, right off the bat, should be that Columbus did not "discover" the America's.
The Viking's were here before him, the Chinese before the Vikings, and I hesitant suggest that the Greeks could have visited the America's several thousand years ago also.
More correctly an imparital history should be taught - Columbus arrived on the west coast of America in 1492.
Please don't bother arguing that young children will not remember all that, or that it's too much information. Children are incredibly smart if you bother to teach them details. They pick things up fast and when you tell them 400 times over a few years, they remember alright.

Other things that need to be taught is the history of *the world* not just American History. Why? Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
How many US studying high school students know that World War I started when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assasinated by Serbia, and whose repercusions lasted beyond the Cold War?

I've looked into a few high school history books i nthe US the unfortunate answer is "not many". Not zero, but certainly not the majority.

These things are important to the development of the human race as a global culture.

[ Parent ]

Information requirement, please (4.50 / 2) (#106)
by bob6 on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 09:08:03 AM EST

I'm EUan and in order to make a proper opinion on Texan education I need to know the following things:
  • How the Texas Board of Education is formed, are they educators or politicians? elected or nominated? by who?
  • Can the Federal Gov, parent or professor lobby groups interfere with Texas Board of Education decisions?
  • Who writes school books?
And finally I'd like to hear about other states, the differences between public and private schools, etc. Thanks.

Cheers.
typically... (4.66 / 3) (#111)
by Work on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 11:55:46 AM EST

they are ex-educators, elected by the people except for the chair of the board which is nominated by governor, confirmed by Senate.

Of course people lobby them. This was addressed in 1995 by having the board select a wide range of books, and letting local school districts adopt the one of their choosing. Some books will be more liberal, others may be more conservative. In the end, the local district chooses.

School books are written by large publishing companies... the same ones who serve europe too, most likely. I know a popular thing for US college students is to order textbooks from the UK, where prices are fixed on textbooks, making them cheaper :)

[ Parent ]

Old US War propaganda (none / 0) (#109)
by chbm on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 11:50:09 AM EST

I wish I could find the link to old WW2 propaganda someone posted in a comment to another story a couple of weeks ago. It had a poster showing nazis burning books and saying something to the effect of "don't worry you can still read them here".

-- if you don't agree reply don't moderate --
Here it is (none / 0) (#117)
by LodeRunner on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 02:08:01 PM EST

That caused me a big impression, too.


---
"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

How the SBOE actually works. (3.50 / 2) (#110)
by Work on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 11:52:05 AM EST

This is taken from "Practicing Texas Politics", which is a texas government textbook.

...the State Board of Education is currently composed of 15 nonsalaried members, elected to four-year over-lapping terms from legislatively drawn districts. Appointed as chair is a board member nominated by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.

(in other words, they are all elected by the people except for the chair)

...One point of contention is who should be responsible for textbook selection. As part of a massive educational reform package enacted in 1995, local school districts are permitted to select their own textbooks from a state-approved list. The SBOE cannot overturn local adoptions of books paid for with state money. Following an attorney general's opinion, local school districts remain the final authority in textbook selection after the SBOE has approved an adoption list.

A wonderful book on this topic (5.00 / 1) (#114)
by thebrix on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 12:56:56 PM EST

Dr Bowdler's Legacy: A History of Expurgated Books in England and America by Noel Perrin (sample) is brilliant.

It gives chapter and verse on more than two centuries of slicing and dicing what the author wrote. It pains me to note that, despite Thomas Bowdler being forever associated with expurgation, my countrymen in Scotland were pioneers of both the technique and the excuses for doing it (Robert Burns was an early target of the blue pencils ...).

it evens out pretty well (none / 0) (#124)
by Delirium on Thu Jul 04, 2002 at 09:38:03 PM EST

Between conservatives in Texas vetting textbooks and liberals in California doing the same, the textbooks end up being pretty decently centrist, which is as close as you can reasonably get to "unbiased" with such a thing.

Fedralise! (5.00 / 1) (#129)
by avleenvig on Fri Jul 05, 2002 at 12:43:03 PM EST

How about we get the federal government to create a "National Curriculum" that is taught the same, in every part of the country.

Wow, wouldn't that be a revolutionary idea - have all the states doing the same thing! Shocking. Really. I don't know how I could say such a sensible thing.

[ Parent ]

Sort of. (5.00 / 1) (#142)
by vectro on Sat Jul 06, 2002 at 01:54:39 PM EST

What you actually end up with is entirely PC textbooks that try their absolute hardest to avoid offending anyone, even if it requires omitting (or changing) key facts.

In fact, it appears to me that textbook publishers view the non-offensiveness of their books (even in science) as more important than factual correctness.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

Houston, TX right here (4.00 / 2) (#128)
by aechols on Fri Jul 05, 2002 at 04:10:24 AM EST

I mean, I just couldn't imagine raising a child in Texas and sending them to public school to be brainwashed by these right-wing lunatics. Anyone in Texas (or anywhere else) care to rebut/debate/agree?

I've spent the last four years in one of the larger high schools (large as in 3,000-something students) in Houston. If anybody tried pushing a particular ideology on me, it wasn't through a textbook. Heck, sometimes I didn't even get one because they ran out or my class didn't use it. Many of the textbooks were "Texas Edition" though. They typically have an extra something in the back of the book about local stuff, but beyond that there wasn't anything obviously altered. The average student doesn't appear to be brainwashed that way either. Sorry, but I just don't see it happening.

---
Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

but would you notice? (4.00 / 1) (#132)
by ethereal on Fri Jul 05, 2002 at 01:38:13 PM EST

I mean, would the average student notice if certain facts were left out rather than emphasized, etc. Especially considering that students might not have a great basis of historical knowledge to compare against. The most effective way to bias something is to tell the truth - but only part of it.

I'm not saying that you're biased, but I don't think you can assume that just because you didn't detect anything in the text books, that there wasn't really a subtle bias there after all.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

didn't say it couldn't be (none / 0) (#138)
by aechols on Fri Jul 05, 2002 at 07:25:18 PM EST

Like I said, there wasn't an obvious bias that I could pick out. I'm open to the possibility that it could be biased in some form, but all I'm saying is that I didn't notice any such bias as I used them. If I were to go back and look at the books with a little more scrutiny having been made aware of this, I could find something different.

---
Are you pondering what I'm pondering?
[ Parent ]
Age is no reason to ban (5.00 / 1) (#131)
by avleenvig on Fri Jul 05, 2002 at 01:26:54 PM EST

Someone earier in this list stated that if the book about prostitutes was for 8 year olds it should be banned, but if it was for junior high students it is ok.

I put it to you that age is no reason to ban the book.
To support this I refer you to studies conducted in Europe (primarily in the Netherlands) where Sex Education is taught differently than in the UK. One striking point is that in the Netherlands, the teachings of Sex Education are started between the ages of 8 and 12. This is a country that has one of the lowest percentages of teenage pregnancies in the developed world.
Shocking.

A quote from the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies:

Other countries have been much more successful than the US in addressing the problem of teen pregnancies. Age at first intercourse is similar in the US and five other countries: Canada, England, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden, yet all those countries have teen pregnancy rates that are at least less than half the US rate.(9) Sex education in these other countries is based on the following components: a policy explicitly favoring sex education; openness about sex; consistent messages throughout society; and access to contraception.

Often sex education curricula begin in high school, after many students have already begun experimenting sexually. Studies have shown that sex education begun before youth are sexually active helps young people stay abstinent and use protection when they do become sexually active.(10) The sooner sex education begins, the better, even as early as elementary school.

We should be explicitly favoring the teaching of truth and facts.



Not the complete story (4.50 / 2) (#134)
by An.wizard on Fri Jul 05, 2002 at 04:11:16 PM EST

a bunch of Bible-thumping, oil-drilling yahoos get to rewrite reality because they don't like it.
This is such a hilarious post to anyone who has been paying attention to the recent public debates going on in Texas about history textbooks. The current concern is that history is being re-written by the board, yes. But the big arguement is not about deleting the presence of prostitution in the old west, but about deleting the importance of the Alamo and the Texas Revolution.

The immigration of Mexican nationals into Texas has proceeded to the point where it is no longer "Politically Correct" to show the Mexican government in any bad light, even a government gone for over 166 years. "The old way was to teach that `we won,' " notes Angela Miller, who taught history in the Houston Independent School District for 20 years and now serves as the district's manager for social studies curriculum. "It's not so easy to use the royal `we' when more than half the kids in your class are Hispanic." -- Houston Chronicle, April 21, 2002.

This story presents a balanced/slightly mexican biased story about the debate. It highlights the fact that more than one side is involved in re-writing history. It is also a perfect example of the truism that history is written by the winners. For 166 years "a ragged but brave band of mostly Anglo-American rebels" were the "winners" of the Texas Revolution. Now that "Mexicans sometimes joke that what is happening now in Texas and the rest of the Southwest is the opposite of what happened in the 1820s." Maybe they will win the new revolution and get to write the textbooks thier way.


Good teachers won't bother using these books (3.00 / 1) (#135)
by juju2112 on Fri Jul 05, 2002 at 04:13:23 PM EST

Lots of teachers I know don't even use the textbooks. They take one look at the department-mandated textbook and say, "this is shit". Then they just use their own resources to teach.

That's not always a good thing.. (4.00 / 1) (#145)
by FlightSimGuy on Mon Jul 08, 2002 at 07:18:42 PM EST

Being a Texas high school student, I believe that teachers throwing out textbooks and teaching by their own means is rarely a good thing. The textbooks tend to be very well written, much more so than those handouts teachers give us, which are much harder to keep track of and understand. When teachers abandon the books, the usual result is that they're teaching what they, themselves, are most familiar with rather than the basic things about history that everybody needs to learn. The result is that you have kids who graduate without knowing why WWI was fought, simply because their teachers think that the things people are 'omitting' from history are what needs to be the focus of the entire curriculum.
Or, they may choose to follow the path for the year that the textbook has created, but they'll do it with their own materials (handouts, etc) rather than those presented by the textbook. I have seen this happen plenty of times, but the materials presented by the teacher have never been superior in quality and understandability to those in the book. To ensure that I won't be the victim of something like this, I watch for such teachers at the beginning of every school year, and if I realize that I've got one, I simply go and demand a copy of the textbook to keep at home, so I have somewhere to turn to when the handouts don't make sense. If they refuse to provide one, a conference between my parents and the school principal usually changes their minds. :)
Sorry, I'm rambling now, I'll stop.

[ Parent ]
required texts (3.00 / 1) (#139)
by jeffycore on Fri Jul 05, 2002 at 07:35:03 PM EST

I live in Texas, and when I took US History in high school two years ago, the teacher split the teaching pretty evenly between the textbook, and Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States. While Zinn has a very obvious bias (he tends to find ideas that fit with what be believes run with them), it was a nice compliment to the textbook and all that it glossed over and left out.

Textbook Censorship in the Lone Star State | 146 comments (98 topical, 48 editorial, 1 hidden)
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