Texas’ State Board of Education faction supports balance in faith coverage in textbooks
Some members of Texas’ State Board of Education supported recently a resolution that seeks to ensure that future state textbooks show balance and do not show bias towards any particular religion.
Bob Craig of Texas’ SBOE called for a balanced, unbiased curriculum in textbooks, in support of a resolution penned by Randy Rives which claims that “a Pro-Islamic, anti-Christian bias has tainted some past social studies books,” FOX News reported.
“Certainly, if Christianity is not getting an equal share of time in the book, (then) it needs to have that, without question,” Craig told FOX News. “I think there is legitimate concern that our textbooks need to be accurate…and they need to be fair.”
The resolution’s preliminary draft says, “Diverse reviewers have repeatedly documented gross pro-Islamic, anti-Christian distortions in social studies texts” throughout the U.S., and some social studies textbooks in Texas showed anti-Christian and pro-Islamic views. It warns publishers that the board will reject books that are biased, The Dallas Morning News said.
Not legal, campaign posturing
Thomas Ratliff, a Republican candidate who is expected to be an incoming board member said the resolution is in conflict with a 1995 state law which says the SBOE cannot determine the content in textbooks, the Dallas Morning News reported.
The 1995 law was penned 15 years ago by Ratliff’s father, former Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff. It states that the SBOE can only judge whether a textbook meets specified physical requirements, is factual, and meets the state’s curriculum standards, the Dallas Morning News said.
Don McLeroy, SBOE member, said the resolution is legal and said that in 2003 he personally identified one book which showed bias in favor of Islam. He talked to the publisher who concurred and made the text more impartial, The Dallas Morning News reported.
McLeroy said, “There is reason to be concerned about bias in our history books. That is what motivated supporters of the resolution.” Jay Diskey of the Association of American Publishers said the current textbooks were amended to balance coverage of religions, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi questioned the timing of the resolution and said it could be posturing in light of the elections. She told The Dallas Morning News, “We need to be focusing on real issues like how to graduate more of our students.”
Rives, who wrote the proposal, told FOX News, “We were just some parties that were really concerned (by) what we had seen in some of the textbooks in the past.” Rives said they also noted there was no safeguard to make sure it is not repeated in the future.
Samer Altabba, a Muslim from Texas is also concerned about bias and feels that Islam is misrepresented in textbooks. He told FOX News, “A lot of people perceive Islam as a religion of violence or terrorism or hatred, while Islam is a religion of peace.”
Craig said his interest is that textbooks are factual and balanced. He told FOX News, “I think really the resolution is nothing more than a resolution. It’s not binding, it’s just a comment. It has no authority as far as what the state board will do in the future.”
The resolution will be considered by the board next week, FOX News said.