Texas panel: Limit Islam in textbooks
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.”