By Nate Hennagin
On Friday, in a slim 7-6 decision, the Texas State Board of Education passed a resolution that purports to correct alleged “pro-Islam/anti-Christian” language in public school textbooks. The inflammatory resolution is another example of the SBOE putting politics before education and only adds more fuel to anti-Islam rhetoric.
Although the resolution’s supposed goal is to improve textbooks by calling for balanced treatment of all religions, it instead specifically denigrates Islam. In addition, it relies on faulty and misleading information to support its claim, including statements that Middle Easterners are “buying into the U.S. public school textbook oligopoly” in order to control the minds of American children through “jihad philosophy.”
In addition to a letter by AU State Legislative Counsel Dena Sher and 70 emails sent by AU members and supporters to the SBOE, Austin chapter president Brian Spears testified on behalf of AU against the resolution. He stated that the resolution does not fulfill its goal of providing the balanced treatment of all religions because it specifically singles out Islam. A video clip of Brian’s testimony can be found here. He was joined in testimony by representatives from the Texas Freedom Network and the ACLU of Texas.
Despite these actions, the circus that we have come to expect from the Texas State Board of Education did not disappoint. The resolution itself refers to a version of the history textbooks that have not been in use in school classrooms for nearly a decade. A Texas parent also provided testimony criticizing a chapter of her son’s textbook titled “Life in the Eastern Hemisphere,” she found several pages on Islam and only one reference to Christianity. Furthermore, board member Don McLeroy condemned that the textbooks did not address the two great events in world history: the “discovery of monotheism by the Jews and the Christmas story.” For this and more events of the hearing, check out the TFN live blog.
Overall, this is another disappointing decision by the Texas SBOE that has once again politicized education, rather than improving schools in the state.