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California Lawmaker Seeks To Nullify Influence Of Texas Textbook Rules

Books

First Posted: 06/27/10 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 05:15 PM ET

Last month, the Texas Education Agency fundamentally changed how humanities subjects would be taught in schools.

Thomas Jefferson was removed from a discussion on the Founding Fathers, the term "capitalism" was stricken from economics lessons, the separation between church and state was glossed over, Joe McCarthy and Ronald Reagan replaced John F. Kennedy and the history of changing gender roles was tossed over concerns that it would lead students into "transsexualism."

A bill introduced recently in the California state legislature seeks to prevent these changes from seeping into textbooks in the Golden State. The bill, introduced by California State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) is largely symbolic, however, since California will not be purchasing textbooks in the near future due to budget cuts.

"There needs to be a counter to this," said Lee's chief of staff Adam J. Keigwin, referring to the Texas revisions.

Yee introduced SB 1471, which requires the state's board of eduction to examine all future textbooks so that none of Texas' new regulations would enter California schools. The bill is currently making its way through the state legislature.

"It goes beyond politics," Keigwin told the Huffington Post.

When the bill cleared an early legislative hurdle last week, Yee said in a statement: "Our kids should be provided an education based on facts and that embraces our multicultural nation."

Texas and California are the states with the two largest K-12 student populations in the country. With millions of potential textbooks to be sold, publishers will more often than not cater to the demands of the two states, who have often acted as counterbalances on textbook politics.

Keigwin called the new textbook guidelines coming out of Texas "quite alarming."

"Not only is it not appropriate for students in Texas to face this, but potentially students all across the country even though their representatives didn't vote for this," he said. "They know a lot of this history is not true. They may have communities of color who want to have that history taught in the schools, and it may not happen because of poorly written textbooks."

Keigwin said he hopes that other states will follow California's lead: "Every state should do it."


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