AUSTIN, Texas – As the Texas Public Policy Foundation prepares to release reviews of proposed social studies textbooks, problems are being uncovered according to the foundation’s director of education research. Even after new textbooks are adopted by the State Board of Education this November, pinpointing Texas on a map and knowing why colonists threw tea into Boston Harbor may still puzzle students.
“Our reviewers are finding a big difference in academic quality: some books are good and some are very bad,” noted TPPF’s Chris Patterson. “But none are just right. All the texts we reviewed have bleached history from the pages.”
“Texas’ new social studies textbooks replace history with a stew of geography, economics, government, citizenship, science, technology, sociology and culture that is lightly seasoned with history,” said Patterson. “The educational bureaucracy, not publishers, is responsible for the historical amnesia in our schools.”
In fact, the nation’s latest report card on public schools, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, shows one-third of 4th grade students cannot find their state on a map and less than one-quarter know about the Boston Tea Party.
The State Board of Education begins hearings on the textbooks July 17, and a final vote on adoption is not expected until November. The board is charged with approving or rejecting textbooks on the basis of factual content and conformity with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards.
TPPF’s comprehensive review by university scholars and public school teachers evaluating the academic quality and accuracy of middle and high school social studies textbooks is being coordinated by Christopher Hammons, Ph.D., of Houston Baptist University.
The reviewers include current and retired teachers from Fort Bend ISD, Brazosport ISD, Houston ISD, College Station ISD, Judson (San Antonio) ISD and the Texas Military Institute (San Antonio). Also included are professors from Austin College, Texas A&M, Texas A&M Commerce, the University of North Texas, Southwest Texas State University and Stanford University. The American Textbook Council is also participating in the TPPF review.
Added Patterson: “We need better books, but we also need better curriculum standards. Texas’ students are cheated by watered-down, politically-correct social studies that replace history education.”