Texas panel: Limit Is­lam in text­books

Los Angeles Times - - The Nation -

austin, texas — The Texas State Board of Ed­u­ca­tion adopted a res­o­lu­tion Fri­day that seeks to cur­tail ref­er­ences to Is­lam in Texas text­books, as so­cial-con­ser­va­tive board mem­bers warned of what they de­scribe as a creep­ing Mid­dle East­ern in­flu­ence in the nation’s pub­lish­ing in­dus­try.

The board ap­proved the one-page non­bind­ing res­o­lu­tion, which urges text­book pub­lish­ers to limit what they print about Is­lam in world his­tory books, by a 7-5 vote.

Crit­ics say it’s an­other ex­am­ple of the ide­o­log­i­cally fo­cused board try­ing to politi­cize pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion.

“It’s hard not to con­clude that the mis­lead­ing claims in this res­o­lu­tion are ei­ther based on ig­no­rance of what’s in the text­books or, on the other hand, are an ex­am­ple of fear-mon­ger­ing and play­ing pol­i­tics,” said Kathy Miller, pres­i­dent of the Texas Free­dom Net­work, which ad­vo­cates for re­li­gious free­dom.

Fu­ture boards that will choose the state’s next gen­er­a­tion of so­cial stud­ies texts will not be bound by the res­o­lu­tion.

“This is an ex­pres­sion of the board’s opin­ion, so it does not have an af­fect on any par­tic­u­lar text­book,” said David An­der­son, gen­eral coun­sel for the Texas Ed­u­ca­tion Agency.

The res­o­lu­tion cites world his­tory books no longer used in Texas schools that it says de­voted more lines of text to Is­lamic be­liefs and prac­tices than Chris­tian ones. Chair­woman Gail Lowe said board rules pro­hibit them from dis­cussing cur­rent books more than 90 days af­ter their adop­tion.

The res­o­lu­tion says “more such dis­crim­i­na­tory treat­ment of re­li­gion may oc­cur as Mid­dle East­ern­ers buy into the U.S. pub­lic school text­book oli­gop­oly, as they are do­ing now.”

It tells pub­lish­ers: “State Board of Ed­u­ca­tion will look to re­ject fu­ture prej­u­di­cial so­cial stud­ies sub­mis­sions that con­tinue to of­fend Texas law with re­spect to treat­ment of the world’s ma­jor re­li­gious groups by sig­nif­i­cant in­equal­i­ties of cov­er­age space-wise and by de­mo­niz­ing or li­on­iz­ing one or more of them over oth­ers.”

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