California Senator Seeks to Ban Texas Textbooks

As news of the State Board of Education's conservative spin on U.S. history has spread nationwide, a backlash has sprung forth, perhaps predictably, from the liberal mecca of San Francisco.

Having heard of the textbook wars here, California state Sen. Leland Yee, a Democrat who represents San Francisco and San Mateo counties, says he’s drafting legislation to ensure none of the SBOE’s history curriculum revisions seep into any California textbooks. Having heard of the allegedly huge influence of Texas on the textbook market — one commonly reported but exaggerated (we’ll have more on those exaggerations in a story tomorrow) — Yee wants border protection against red-state ideology.

“The way he looks at it, they’re rewriting history. It’s not accurate; and it’s insulting to a number of our communities of color,” said Yee’s chief of staff, Adam Keigwin. “The de-emphasis on civil rights in so many areas — reducing the scope of Latino history, especially in a state like Texas — is just mind-boggling.”

In California, the state school board is appointed rather than elected and delegates curriculum decisions to a committee of its members, Keigwin said. “We’ve purposely taken the curriculum out of the hands of politicians to depoliticize it,” he said. “So we don’t necessarily have the same issues that are happening in Texas, where the board is maybe responding to constituents — or maybe not — on whatever the popular issue may be.”

Asked what offended Yee about the Texas social studies standards beyond the civil rights issues, he said: “Putting emphasis on these modern conservative movements that, in the big picture of history, may not even register as more than a blip on the radar screen. Labeling Confederate generals as heroes when they were clearly racist — that didn’t sit well. Removing African-American music and but keeping country music — that doesn’t make any sense. There’s just a whole laundry list of issues that he didn’t feel reflect California values.”

California values? Now there’s a notion the SBOE's social conservatives will be pleased to hear they haven’t mistakenly embraced.

 

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.