As Texas goes, so goes the nation?

Photo: Flickr/atmtx

In last week’s broadcast, Need to Know covered the Texas education board’s push to rewrite textbooks. Texas is the only state in the U.S. that has uniform adoption standards from K-12, meaning all public schools get money to purchase specific textbooks based on the state board’s decision. (It’s not a district-by-district decision, like it is in some other states.) Because of the influence the state wields with publishers, some fear that these revisions could affect history textbooks for other parts of the country. Need to Know asked three experts whether changes to Texas’ social studies curriculum will have national ramifications or if claims about the state’s influence have been overstated.

Nathan Bernier,
Texas reporter, KUT NPR member station

Finding an answer to the question of the influence of Texas textbooks has been hard because you are relying on what other people will tell you. You can find someone to say anything. People like Jay Diskey [the executive director of the school division of the Association of American Publishers] will tell you Texas was very influential 10 to 15 years ago but now the industry is modular and can produce curriculum for every state without much cost. However, the issue is a matter of dispute. It is possible that states without uniform adoption could end up using Texas textbooks since the industry is less likely to make a textbook for individual districts. You can find a good [anecdote of Texas' influence] in this New York Times article.

Fritz Fischer,
Professor of history and history education at UNC; Chairman of board of trustees for National Council for History Education, Inc.

That’s what everybody thinks and that’s what I think. It makes sense to me but if you really wanted to study this you would have to research by each district because states [without uniform adoption] don’t buy in bulk. I think the more important issue is that people need to consider what the role of politicians should be in the creation of curriculum. People with a political agenda have created curriculum for the state of Texas. Is that a precedent that people want to follow or is that something that people want to reject? I think we need to reject this. People with political agendas are creating what the past means. People should make sure that it’s history teachers and experts in history creating state or local curriculum rather than those with a political agenda.

David Anderson,
Former director of curriculum at the Texas Education Agency and lobbyist whose clients include a major textbook publisher

[The state's] buying power was what drove textbook companies to [accommodate changes to] Texas’ textbooks. In the late 1980s, Texas developed elements that became state standards. That and population increase and its buying power made it influential from the 1990s through to this last decade. Publishers responded to the clear cycle and secure market. Texas spent a lot of money on textbooks and would purchase 100 percent of the books in year one because the state would pay, where as other states, like California, broke money for textbooks into a formula for districts that didn’t guarantee an order. Texas still has buying power and it wont change a bit in the next year. However, we will see a decrease in this buying power three to four years from now. There have been more options created for Texas educators to choose instructional materials based on districts’ teaching approaches from the Commissioner’s list, released next year. Also, everything is being developed digitally so its much easier [for publishers] to customize and make changes for each state.

Related:
Is Texas rewriting history?
Is capitalism a dirty word?

 
SUGGESTED STORIES
  • thumb
    Memorial Day every day
    Beyond the backyard BBQ: Honor and aid those who have served.
  • Fast and too furious?
    Can accuracy and the demand for instant information coexist in the media?
  • thumb
      Steinbeck's Salinas Valley
    John Steinbeck's hometown came to worldwide notice through the Grapes of Wrath. Not all city fathers were pleased by the portrait. Explore what has changed and what remains the same in Salinas.

Comments

  • elizs

    umm, Nathan Bernier reports for KUT, not AUT.

  • Paula Jones

    I just caught a clip on PBS where you showed some persons calling and making threats to members of Congress after the passing of the Health Care Bill. Your commentator also stated that speech does matter, siting comments by Newt Gingrich stating President Obama, as having actions like Hitler etc, that comments like these can incite violence. Why did I not see like statements by your commentator when President Bush was being talked about and called not only Hitler but much worst?

  • http://forums.finalgear.com/political-discussion/random-thoughts-political-edition-34417/page-142/#post1366196 Random Thoughts (Political Edition)

    [...] state individual school districts set up standards and order books. Good article about that here. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know…he-nation/754/ Originally Posted by nomix If this school board is anything to go by, I'm not even sure [...]

  • http://www.usmessageboard.com/politics/233469-gee-mittens-whatchya-hidin-21.html#post5598725 Gee Mittens, whatchya hidin’? – Page 21 – US Message Board – Political Discussion Forum

    [...] some fear that these revisions could affect history textbooks for other parts of the country. As Texas goes, so goes the nation? | Need to Know | PBS The article I linked points out both sides of the argument __________________ John Galt was a [...]