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Posted at 3:15 PM ET, 09/24/2010

Texas education board: Textbooks favor Islam over Christianity

By Valerie Strauss

The Texas Board of Education adopted a controversial resolution today that accuses textbook publishers of favoring Islam over Christianity and tells them to stop it.

Never mind that the books the board has cited as examples of bias were phased out of the Texas public school system a long time ago, according to the Texas Education Agency.

The board isn’t letting facts get in the way, because this whole exercise really isn’t about balance in textbooks, something that not even a halfwit would argue against.

The one-page resolution, approved 7-6, was put on the board's agenda not long after the panel finalized new social studies standards and right at the time when a charged national debate erupted over a proposed Muslim community center and mosque near Ground Zero in New York, and about a Florida pastor who was threatening to burn the Koran.

That clearly speaks to a political, not an educational agenda. Consider that the board had plenty of time to deal with this issue when it took more than a year to come up with its controversial social studies standards, which sparked a long debate about whether religious fundamentalists on the board were imposing their own personal views on the state’s schoolchildren. The standards were formally adopted last month.

The first line of the new resolution says that "pro-Islamic/anti-Christian bias has tainted some past Texas Social Studies textbooks.” As Mark Chancey, chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University, wrote in the Dallas Morning News , the resolution only names two traditions, Islam and Christianity, and, he said, “presupposes” that they are in conflict.

“In its rhetoric, the terms 'pro-Islamic' and 'anti-Christian' go hand in hand; whatever is 'pro-Islamic' is by definition 'anti-Christian,' " Chancey said.

The resolution calls on textbook publishers to limit what they print about Islam in world history books and says the board "will look to reject future prejudicial social studies submissions," though it is non-binding on future boards. It also contends that major education publishers are being infiltrated with money from Arabs, saying, “WHEREAS more such discriminatory treatment of religion may occur as Middle
Easterners buy into the U.S. public school textbook oligopoly, as they are now doing...”

Chancey notes that the resolution relies in part on a study by the American Textbook Council about Islam in textbooks, which takes the position, according to its website, that many textbooks present “an incomplete and confected view of Islam that misrepresents its foundations and challenges to international security.”

But Gilbert T. Sewall, the director of the American Textbook Council, an independent national research organization established in 1989 to review history and social studies textbooks, does not support the Texas resolution.

He said in an e-mail that the notion that Arab money is seeping into major education publishers is “absurd,” and that the resolution, if passed, would be “an object of ridicule and embarrassment for Texas and conservatives.”

Sewall, who was a history instructor at Phillips Academy, an education editor at Newsweek, and on the faculties of New York University and Boston University, also said the resolution was “arguably provocative.”

The Texas Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit organization of religious and community leaders who support religious freedom, civil liberties and public education, had it right with this statement:

“This is the 21st century. Education is more important than ever for the future success of our children. Yet board members continue to ignore sound scholarship and mire themselves in every hot button political issue they can find. They simply refuse to put the education of Texas schoolchildren ahead of personal and political agendas."


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By Valerie Strauss  | September 24, 2010; 3:15 PM ET
Categories:  Curriculum, History, Textbooks  | Tags:  islam resolution, mosque and ground zero, religion resolution and texas, resolution, texas, texas and islam, texas and textbooks, texas board of education, texas resolution, textbook resolution, textbooks and islam  
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Comments

good Lord...

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld1 | September 25, 2010 1:03 AM | Report abuse

These Texans sound more like "Chicken Littles" than the rough and tuff pioneer desendants they portray themselves to be

Posted by: jmfromdc | September 25, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

yeah, let's take everything even remotely connected to the Islam word out of our children's curriculum, let's start with algebra for example, after all it was not only invented by the Arabs, it's even an Arab word.

Posted by: biglio | September 25, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

We would also need to eliminate the zero--that comes from the Arabs. But then how would we measure the common sense of the Texas board of education?

Posted by: sideswiththekids | September 25, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

"North Mexico", i.e. Texas, continues to drag down American's progress in education.

These imbeciles in "North Mexico" need to go to "re-education camps", so they can rid themselves of the strangle-hold religion has over their brains, beliefs, and in general their thinking skills. These imbeciles in "North Mexico" are being affected by all the enviromental pollution, heavy metals, and in general "bad air" that consumes their lives.

These imbeciles are a real embarrassment to the other 49 states, and u.s. "territories". Support the people of American Somoa -- divert all the federal aid Texas receives to the American Somoa and other more needy areas.

These people are too pathetic let them be saved by their religion, but not my tax dollars.

Posted by: FranknErnest | September 25, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I'm a Muslim, Arab, American and highly educated with 5 children born, raised and also highly educated in this country which I proudly call home. I'm shocked that the Texas board of education wastes our public money and their time to serve some political parties misrepresentation of the truth. They are trying to put more hate and fear in the hearts of the general public dividing our country and even changing the well known history facts. Mr. Leroy let's concentrate on our future generations' education, our unity and our autonomy.

Posted by: nmohamed | September 25, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I hope the Board will apply these standards fairly to the other disciplines: Math will need a revision to remove it's grossly offensive Islamic overtones. Al-jabr (AKA algebra) is out, 'zero' as part of the counting system would be suspect as well, in fact, don't we use 'Arabic' numerals to write numbers? Better go back to 'Roman' numerals just to be "fair" to our Christian students.

Posted by: andrewbruce | September 25, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

The Texas Board of Education, having long since given up on making Texans any smarter, seem dedicated to using their numbers and influence to make the rest of the country as ignorant as they are.

We have the technology today to address this grave problem. Eliminate printed textbooks, in favor of a "kindle-like" device that students can carry throughout their school experience, loading books as needed from a school sponsored site as required.

Eliminate the economic necessity of large print runs for textbook publishing, and you eliminate the influence that larger (and dumber) states have on what our children learn. E-books have a publishing cost that approaches zero, and will save millions of trees currently consumed in printing books that nobody really wants to read anyway.

Posted by: OldUncleTom | September 25, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

An evenhanded application of the law would also, of course, disallow any textbook with more or more favorable references to Christianity.

Let the lawsuits begin!

Posted by: thrh | September 25, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

I volunteered and joined the Army, and I served as an 11B Infantryman. Most of my time in the field was in squad or platoon size operations. We would have discussions about what we were fighting for. It always came back to the “Bill of Rights”. To me the most important was “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
What did our Founding Fathers have to say about religion:
"Question with boldness even the existence of a god." - Thomas Jefferson (letter to Peter Carr, 10 August 1787):
"All natural institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit." Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason;
"Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.", John Madison;
“Lighthouses are more helpful than Churches”, Benjamin Franklin

Posted by: lynnlm | September 25, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

I volunteered and joined the Army, and I served as an 11B Infantryman. Most of my time in the field was in squad or platoon size operations. We would have discussions about what we were fighting for. It always came back to the “Bill of Rights”. To me the most important was “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
What did our Founding Fathers have to say about religion:
"Question with boldness even the existence of a god." - Thomas Jefferson (letter to Peter Carr, 10 August 1787):
"All natural institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit." Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason;
"Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.", John Madison;
“Lighthouses are more helpful than Churches”, Benjamin Franklin

Posted by: lynnlm | September 25, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

I expect the same Texan school board will request that more math instructions be devoted to calculations with Roman numerals instead of Arabic. There will be many happy teenagers who no longer have to learn Algebra, Algorithms, and Chemistry (all Arabic words. And of course, the zero is just too over-rated.
I believe the business will be brisk for abascuses in the near future

Posted by: Kingofkings1 | September 27, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

So because the words algebra, algorithms, and chemistry were arabic words that overrides tha fact that this country is predominantly christian and that the greatest civilized countries in the world are also christian.

Posted by: think11 | October 1, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

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