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Friday, April 22, 2005

TWO TEXTBOOK CENSORSHIP BILLS IN COMMITTEE TUESDAY - TESTIMONY NEEDED!!

*************URGENT TFN ACTION ***************

The House Public Education Committee will hear testimony at 2 p.m., Tuesday, April 26, on two bills that would swing open the door to widespread censorship of our children's textbooks. These bills would effectively repeal legislation passed in 1995 to prevent the State Board of Education (SBOE) from censoring content in Texas textbooks. By permitting SBOE members to insert or delete content based on their own political and religious ideology, the bills would give far-right censors free rein to target textbooks discussions on such topics as the theory of evolution, slavery, the civil rights struggle, women's rights and the separation of church and state.

H.B. 2534 by Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, allows the SBOE to determine content requirements and limitations for facts and discussions about theories (such as the theory of evolution), citizenship, patriotism and free enterprise, and divergent individuals and groups ("may not encourage lifestyles that deviate from generally accepted standards of society"). This bill would set into law the kind of textbook censorship TFN has fought before the SBOE for the last 10 years.

H.B. 220 by Rep. Charlie Howard, R-Sugar Land, would give the SBOE the authority to reject a textbook or require its revision simply because the book did not conform to the political or religious beliefs of SBOE members. The bill author tried to attach this bill as an amendment to H.B. 4 on technology and instructional materials for schools earlier this week. Rep. Howard said far-right SBOE members Terri Leo and David Bradley asked him for this bill. Both Leo and Bradley have led efforts to censor school textbooks for years and have frequently called on the Legislature to restore the state board's authority over textbook content.

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TAKE ACTION - TESTIMONY NEEDED!

Give the House Public Education Committee and the media first-hand accounts of how far-right censors on the SBOE have put responsible science, history and health education on trial during battles over the adoption of new textbooks.

Please contact Heather Alden, heather@tfn.org or 512-322-0545, to get more details about testifying Tuesday. e can try to accommodate your schedule with a cell phone call before testimony is starting.

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The Texas Freedom Network advances a mainstream agenda of religious freedom and individual liberties to counter the radical right.

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P.O. Box 1624
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4 comments:

  1. Good luck with this one. I hope people understand the importance.

    If you can control what people know, you can control people.

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  2. If I'm not mistaken there was a provision in HB 2 about textbooks and the language indicated that the state might be moving toward complete electronic media in the way of textbooks and they would be locally funded at that instead of state funded. It will be interesting to see how that coincides with this bill.

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  3. The idea of censoring the content of textbooks in order to fit in within your political ideology is extremely backward for a country that once fought a socialist ideology. Of course censorship is heard of in places such as China, the U.S.S.R or the Taliban’s Afghanistan but America? A place where our first amendment emphasizes the freedom of speech, press and religion?


    According to HB 973, this bill would require curriculum “to be consistent with fundamental American principles, including patriotism, democratic values, and free enterprise.” But, at the price of what? The republicans of the State Board of Education are dedicated to molding the content of textbooks to mimic their political ideas. Surprisingly, was that slavery was depicted too negatively in history books. Slavery is negative; is it not? I think it is important to show the PROBLEMS with history so we do not repeat this. Thus, slave owners should be presented as what they were. . .

    First, as a multicultural nation textbooks should represent all sides of history and not merely emphasize America’s achievements. However, when testimonies were taken in 2002 by members of far-right organizations they gave the impression that to be and American and to be patriotic means you are 1) Christian 2) fulfilling the traditional gender role as well as other impressions. They stated that “History books should teach our kids that America was founded on Biblical principals, teach them about the Christian belief in the resurrection of Christ, and that our rights come not from our constitution, but from our Creator”. Or, even still, that the “Koran in all of its teachings is violent and expansionistic”. Yet, America is a country which prides itself in the fact that they are a diverse nation in which religion is practiced freely. Thus, why should textbooks emphasize one religion over another? Even more, I have read the Koran and its violent teachings are non-existent. If anything, the Koran is just as violent as the Torah or the Bible.

    Some changes that these right-wing activists have demanded to textbooks include: (courtesy of HNN)

    • Censoring a photo of a woman with a briefcase saying goodbye to her child
    • Criticizing a text on slavery for "overkill of emphasis on cruelty to slaves"
    • Insisting that the African-American family depicted in a section on 'The American Family' be replaced with Anglos.

    Furthermore, I find the comment by Citizens for a Sound Economy to be biased and unfounded. They criticize textbooks as offering a “radical environmental activist agenda” and “propaganda that provides positive references to Islam.” Positive references to Islam? GREAT! THANK GOODNESS! It is about time the American press had something good to say about Islam other than focusing on the religious extremists much as I would say CSE are.


    Action should definitely be taken to prevent the ideology of one group from dominating the thoughts of the masses. The Texas Freedom Network made a great point by quoting Andrew Riggsby, a volunteer reviewer:

    “Publishers ought to be looking at their books and thinking ‘is this true? Instead, they have to go sentence by sentence asking ‘can the Eagle Forum take this out of context and use it as a sound bite?’ ”

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  4. school textbook are so expensive. I agree, We have been looking for school textbook all night for a new school textbook class but havent been able to track down used school textbook that I can afford. Anyway, I enjoyed looking at you school textbook blog...

    jon

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