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Texas Approves New Social Studies Texts — With Changes

The State Board of Education voted to adopt a new list of social studies textbooks Friday morning, following a week of intense debate and hundreds of pages of updates and corrections.

State Board of Education Vice Chair Thomas Ratliff leafs through binders at the meeting listing proposed changes to Texas textbooks in a SBOE meeting in Austin on Monday, October 20, 2014 .Textbook publishers were invited to meeting where public concerns regarding their textbooks were discussed.

After adopting hundreds of pages in last minute updates and corrections, the Texas State Board of Education approved new social studies textbooks Friday.

All but the five Democrats on the 15-member board voted to accept products from all publishers except Worldview Software, which they rejected because of concerns over factual accuracy. 

“When I think of the other publishers, they were on it. They were on the errors. I did not see that here,” Tincy Miller, a Dallas Republican, said of Worldview. 

In total, they approved 89 products for eight different social studies courses that will be used in Texas public schools for the next decade. School districts do not have to buy products from the list vetted by the state education board, but many do because it offers a ready guarantee that materials cover state curriculum standards.

Friday's vote marks the conclusion of a months-long review process where members of the public from across the political spectrum have pointed to thousands of perceived errors and flaws in how the books cover topics like climate change, Islam and the influence of Moses on American Founding Fathers. The morning began with news that a major publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, had withdrawn its textbook from consideration amid ongoing negotiations over changes.

Even as they took the vote, members acknowledged they had not had the time to review all of the changes made since the board began meeting Tuesday

“I did not have an opportunity to read this,” Ruben Cortez, Jr., D-Brownsville, said, gesturing to a stack of updates. 

But others argued that the board should follow the rules it had created.

“I’ve heard a lot of comments calling this a funky process — but I would just remind those around the circle that we adopted that process,” said Tom Maynard, R-Florence,  “If any of you have gone through a home improvement project that got a little out of hand, those things never go quite like you expect.”

Marisa Perez, a San Antonio Democrat, took issue with his analogy.

"I am by no means a handywoman in the household, but I know if I am laying down a foundation and I realize midway through my work that measurements are off, I’m not going to continue to build just for the sake of finishing,” she said. 




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