The process of approving text books for use in Tennessee's public schools has in the past been a pretty lame and superficial process. For one thing, the number of people appointed to the commission could not possibly read all of the text books they are charged with approving in the allotted time and there has not been a citizen watchdog group that exerted influence on the commission. Usually no one showed up at the public hearings on textbooks.
Since most textbooks in use are the same book from one state to another, we can be thankful for the activism of Texas parents who have kept the worst of text books from being approved. For about 50 years or more, Texas has been the filter that kept the worst in liberal indoctrination from making it into the text books of the nation. Since Texas has such a huge share of the market, if Texas rejected a textbook the publisher would go back and revise it in order to get it approved. Texas however could not keep all bad textbooks off the market. Some books are not even considered for use in Texas, so those were never reviewed by the Texas textbook commission. And, Texas could not catch everything.
For the first time that I know of, Tennessee is taking seriously the process of reviewing text books.This year dozens of parents across the state devoted their summer to actually reading the Social Studies textbooks that were up for adoption and they expressed their concern to the text book commission.
Below is a report from Thomas Bunetta posted on the Tennessee Eagle Forum Facebook page:
The Tennessee Department of Education’s Textbook Commission is meeting to consider approval of recommended social studies textbooks for the state’s public schools. Normally, nobody from the public shows up at these meetings. But this time, ACT! for America chapter leaders and members are out in force. They’ve done their homework, using our “Education or Indoctrination: The Treatment of Islam in 6th through 12th grade American Textbooks” report. They’ve done the legwork, educating public officials and the members of this textbook commission, showing them the many flawed and biased ways Islam is presented in the textbooks they are considering.
And then the time comes for the commissioners to vote on whether or not to approve the textbooks. And not one of them makes a motion to do so. So a second call was made for a motion. And not one of them offers the motion. The state’s Director of Curriculum stands up and sternly warns the commissioners there’s a deadline looming and they need to approve these books. And the commissioners hold fast and refuse to approve the textbooks.
To our knowledge this is the first time a state textbook selection committee has refused to approve textbooks due to concerns about how Islam is presented! Yes, folks, you can fight city hall. It’s not easy, but it can be done. You have to be informed, organized and strategic. Which is what we do at ACT! for America and what our Tennessee chapter leaders and members did. They did it smart. They did it right. And they’re just the latest example of what ACT! for America is accomplishing and how our strategic and grassroots approach WORKS!
The final chapter still has to be written. There’s another commission meeting on October 23rd. We need the commissioners to stand their ground and refuse to approve these social studies textbooks. If you live in Tennessee, you can help push this across the finish line by contacting the Rutherford County chapter of ACT! for America at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This fight over text books used in public schools started in Williamson County over a textbook that activist claimed was biased against Israel and equated Israeli self defense with Palestinian terrorism. The textbook in question was A Cultural Landscape: An Introduction to Human Geography, used in a human geography class, an elective in an Advanced Placement course. The specific complaint was a passage that asked students this question: “If a Palestinian suicide bomber kills several dozen Israeli teenagers in a Jerusalem restaurant, is that an act of terrorism or wartime retaliation against Israeli government policies and army actions?”
Thank you, ACT! for America chapter leaders and members in Tennessee for your awesome work on our behalf. Keep fighting the good fight!
My feeling at the time was that smart high school seniors who next year will be in college did not need to be protected from that kind of thought-provoking question. Also, the protest opposing this textbook was led by Laurie Cardoza-Moore, who heads a Christian Zionist group called Proclaiming Justice to the Nations. She is best know for leading the opposition to the building of a Mosque in Murfreesboro. I certainly would not have joined her in that fight. I believe the First Amendment also applies to Muslim and that they have as much right to build a mosque as do Mormons or Jews to build a temple, or as do Hindus or Buddhist or any Christian sect to build a house of worship.
Because of her anti First Amendment position on that issue, I was not likely to support her fight over textbook selection. Also, I am leery of ACT! I have attended some of their meetings and saw a film they produced, but have tended to think they painted all Muslims with the same brush and their position was on occasion more based on bigotry than logic.
Not being a fan of ACT or Laurie Cardoza-Moore I am, nevertheless, pleased with the developments taking place in the Tennessee Textbook Commission. I am glad that citizens are taking an active roll in the selection of textbooks. In countering the bias in textbooks as it relates to the presentation of Islam and history concerning Muslims, ACT has done their homework. They have meticulously examined numerous textbooks and countered claims that white washed or distorted Islam history or doctrine or contemporary Islamic culture. They have footnoted and documented with other superior sources those claims and generalizations that presented Islam is a favorable light or misrepresented historical fact. To view their report go to this link: Education or Indoctrination, The treatment of Islam in 6th thought 12th grade American textbooks.
While ACT is concerned with the presentation of Islam, I am much more concerned with a liberal bias presented in books on American and World history and economic matters. I wish someone was taking the same meticulous approach to how history books portray the cold war, Communism, the arms race, the settlement of America and the conflict between Europeans and Native Americans, the sixties, environmentalism, social movements, and government economic intervention and the roll of free markets.
What is taught is our schools is too important to be left to academics who have a liberal bias. It is an undeniable fact that liberalism is the dominant point of view in academia. While academics may claim they adhere to the highest academic standards of objectivity, it is unavoidable that their own prejudice finds its way into the textbooks they write. All textbooks should be examined carefully and we should have confidence that controversial topics are presented with balance, that sensitive matters are age-appropriate, and that text books are accurate and that they educate rather than indoctrinate.