AUSTIN, Texas – When the State Board of Education meets this Thursday, it will consider a proposal from Chair Grace Shore to halt public comment on proposed social studies textbooks in July, despite the fact the board will not adopt books until November. Notice provided by the board's agenda on the TEA's web site indicates the shortened public review would apply only to the current round of textbooks and not to future years.
"This is an outrageous move to muzzle parents, teachers, and taxpayers who want to make sure textbooks are accurate and academically sound," said Chris Patterson, director of education research for the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF).
"Last year's textbook adoption proved that public scrutiny leads to better textbooks," said Patterson. "Citizen volunteers identified factual errors and academic gaps in required textbook content that were not found in the official review."
Public efforts improved the textbooks, according to statements issued by textbook publishers and State Board members. TPPF, other organizations, and hundreds of Texans ensured that students and teachers are not stuck with textbooks claiming that the sun is stationary and that pollution is the only reason for climate change.
The scheduled vote flies in the face of a board proposal to formally expand public involvement in textbook adoptions. If passed, this vote will shrink public access to proposed textbooks. Time allotted for public review had already been decreased when the board approved a request from publishers to delay textbook delivery, by almost 30 days because production had been slowed by the September 11th attack. Ordinarily, Texans are allotted 5 months, from April through August, to review textbooks awaiting board consideration.
"Two months is not enough time for Texans to review the hundreds of textbooks submitted for adoption, considering only one sample is available for citizens to borrow from each of the 20 Education Region Centers scattered throughout the state," warned Patterson, who will testify against the proposal at the board meeting. "The quality of textbooks and classroom instruction will suffer if the board votes to diminish public involvement."