March 12th, 2010
10:32 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Texas Textbook Showdown

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight we look at the battle over what public schools should be teaching your kids. In Texas today the state's board of education approved a new social studies curriculum that conservatives say is meant to correct for a liberal bias among the teachers who initially drafted the standards. The vote came after days of charged debate.

Tom Foreman is following the debate. He's got a look at what may be and out of textbooks.
Out: calling the U.S. government "Democratic".  In: Calling it a "Constitutional Republic." Also out: too much talk about Thomas Jefferson and the enlightenment, which stressed reasoning and science over blind faith. Also In: More recognition of the contributions of religious leaders, like Moses.

All of this matters, because with almost five million students in Texas, the state buys a lot of textbooks that could determine what publishers put out for America's other school children. Though, in this digital age,  that is not as big of a concern as in past years.

What do you think of the decisions? Weigh in below.

Tonight we'll also wrap up our special series "Homicide in Hollenbeck". We have more on the special mission of a priest in East L.A. helping gang members leave the bloodshed. You'll also hear from actor/activist Martin Sheen who's helping with the cause.

We also have an update on "The Dating Game" serial killer. He was Bachelor One on the 70's hit reality show and a photographer who took many pictures of women and children. The question tonight is were any of the people in the photos his victims? Police need your help. We'll give you the latest on the case.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Frank - Austin, Texas

    Texas is awesome! The doctrine of seperation of church and state is intended to ensure that our secular government guarrantee religious freedom. It is not intended to be a retorical tool used to justify the banning of any mention of religion in the secular sphere. There are many people of faith that have contributed and continue to contribute to our great nation. To deny this is to rewrite history which is exactly what our schools have done for far too long. Texas is moving closer to real education and further from coersive indoctrination by correcting this trend. This move alone will not convert anyone to be a person of faith as many seem to fear but will instead lead to a more tolerant and educated population that will benefit the state well into the future. God bless Texas!

    March 14, 2010 at 1:07 am |
  2. Val

    THANK YOU, Anderson, for bringing this up. I'm a Texas resident, and the things that are going on in the board of "education" right now are just terrible. It's a good thing you've helped raise awareness about this.
    I mean, it's not like Rick Perry's going to care.

    March 13, 2010 at 8:49 pm |
  3. Ellie

    If those textbooks ever make it to my home state, I will pull my son from that class. I wish there was some helpful treatment for these peoples' mental illnesses.

    March 13, 2010 at 8:36 pm |
  4. Connie Smith

    Apparently the Texas Board feels no professional obligation to be accurate, no moral obligation to be truthful, and no patriotic obligation to be mindful of our American heritage of freedom.

    There is no factual dispute that many of our founding forebears were Christian. But they were wise enough to legally protect all citizens from the imposition of any religion. Rather than “a Christian nation,” this is a FREE nation.

    The best example from the Constitution to illustrate this is found in Article VI: “no religious test shall ever be required” for federal office. Even a president can be any of any religion in the world, or no religion at all.

    Further proof of our founders’ real intentions comes from the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli signed by John Adams himself - and unanimously approved by Congress. This official document on U.S. policy states in Article 11: "...the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion..."

    And what about "In God We Trust" and "one nation under God?" NOT from the founding fathers. The phrases were legislated onto the dollar and into the Pledge in the 1950’s in response to hysterical anti-communist McCarthyism.

    it seems clear that those who would use their beliefs to bully others into compliance - and to thoroughly mislead innocent children - are not "good" Christians. In terms of egotism and grandiosity, they are probably not even mentally healthy.

    March 13, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  5. James S.

    Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to people's fears of history. These conservatives are so desperate to deny history or turn a blind eye that they will support textbooks that are more biased to the right. In other words, people have once again made a big deal out of the past.

    March 13, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
  6. Maria H-Miami

    History is about learning all the events that have taken place both state and religious, this is not about how the government conducts business on a daily basis where church and state don't mix. This is about learning the facts of Mayflower, Betsy Ross, Pilgrims, Dottie Madison, General Custer, Cowboys, Liberty Bell, Witches of Salem, Boston Massacre of 1770(Stamp Act) Paul Revere, Ben Franklin, Gay Rights, Native American Indians, Clara Barton, Slavery, Mormons, Donner Party, Lewis & Clark, Alamo, Civil War, Colombus, Daniel Boone, Bernardo de Galvez, Declaration of Independence, Benedict Arnold, Pocahontas, Baptist, Catholism, Valley Forge, William Penn, World War I & II, War in Pacific, Pearl Harbor,Underground Railroad, Prohibition, Spanish-American War, Treaty of Paris, etc.... Knowledge, a well rounded education opens doors for a better job, better life, creativity, why would anyone want to deny this to kids? It's ridiculous that I already had been taught American history, spoke English when I moved to this country from Europe while Americans are trying not to teach it.

    March 13, 2010 at 11:54 am |
  7. Olga O. Pina

    The Texas School Board of Suffocation is the standard bearer of ignorance, intolerance and stupidity!

    David Bradley, $-Republican said, "“There's been a cultural and political shift in Texas, at least in the policy-making level,” he said. “We all represent a constituency.

    Mr. Bradley's interpretation of History is at a policy making level...never mind the truth. The cultural shift? They have NO culture, aside from the Square Dance...and even THAT is dubious. History should not be recorded based on political shifts, and that is what I take his statement means.

    Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, said the proposed standards reflect the desires of his constituents to emphasize “personal responsibility and accountability” and “to honor our Founding Fathers, and our military.”

    Obviously Mercer can't stand the fact that 'our Founding Fathers' in Texas at that time, were Mexicans! He can't swallow the fact that they lost the battle of the Alamo, or what?

    Where do these ninja turtles come from? Do they really think that they are correct? If I were teaching these conjured up historical texts, I would boycott and include the history as I lived it. What? Are they going into every single classroom in Texas and make sure that their 're-interpreted history' is being taught? I hardly think so.

    Passive resistance has some substance here. Our country may not be the 'united' States of America, anymore, but we are a country of many colors, cultures, and the struggles and lives that many minorities (in this case Hispanics) went through and gave their lives for should be recorded and recognized, no matter what your political affiliation may be.

    I am seething! Instead of standing her ground, Ms. Berlanga decided to walk out in protest. Que bonito.

    Austin, Texas

    March 13, 2010 at 10:57 am |
  8. Tim Gibson

    Personally I see nothing wrong with the changes.

    March 13, 2010 at 10:09 am |
  9. Nick

    I weep for my country!

    March 13, 2010 at 9:02 am |
  10. Ryan

    Way to go Texas! Damn science, and reason too! Who needs them? I personally look forward to a better future. A future America where pilots, and doctors, and judges, operate according to the principles of blind faith. I have always been especially uncomfortable with the fact that I live in a democratic society, as well. Democratic just smacks of freedom, and equality. Who in their right mind would want to live in such a place? So I say, good for you Texas. Thanks for showing the rest of us that hundreds of years of learning and knowledge can all be undone if you just believe hard enough.

    March 13, 2010 at 7:27 am |
  11. Pat Brown

    Does this sound familiar to anyone else. Maybe like Islamic extremists and their efforts to control what Muslim children learn. Extremes, regardless of who or where they are, have a lot in common with one another don't they.

    March 13, 2010 at 2:56 am |
  12. Marcell

    This isn't rewriting, it is correcting. The libs have been presenting a perverted version for too many years.

    It is about time!

    March 13, 2010 at 2:55 am |
  13. Nathan Brewer

    There are so many intelligent, level-headed citizens and leaders in the state of Texas. Where is their leadership in state-wide issues like text-books? Our history is determined by those who write books. Anyone with a voice in the state of Texas has the power to write history.

    March 13, 2010 at 2:54 am |
  14. J.V.Hodgson

    Only in Republican Texas I hope!!
    The shame faced putting of religion into education and if you want to be really precise A constitutionally democratic governace system, combined with separation of powers of certain functions. ( constitutional republic??)
    But I thank Republicans for making it clear that in everything " Blind faith" overrides " reasoning and science".
    It just proves that partisanship and religion is what matters to Republicans not logic and what can be good for people in the 21st Century thru science and reasoning.
    I believe GOD ( you can choose which one) the Christian or Islamic actually, the same person, different interpretations; gave us intentionally the ability to understand and use science, reasoning and logic to better understand and be part of his Grand design. Not this dogma!!

    March 13, 2010 at 2:45 am |
  15. Frank

    Better start preserving all we can of our beloved nations history. If these conservatives start relying on the biggest red state(which is 14.5 million conservative texans, give or take) in the country, there is going to be some major changes. Talk about a scheme, eh. Texas is the worst role model for education. This is prime example of small government. If the government doesn't regulate anything then businesses will take the influences from where the money is at. Another thing that gets me is the replacement of capitalism for free enterprise. It's funny that publishers rely on Texas for their text books, because from what I was taught in school was that free enterprise and capitalism are the same. I went to school in Texas (Point #2).

    March 13, 2010 at 2:43 am |
  16. Anne

    As a parent of school age children, I am angry and outraged. I certainly don't want my children learning from textbooks that twist the facts and truth to satisfy those few far right ultra conservative Born-Again Christian Republicans. I am glad to see that there is still separation of Church and State. And I support that separation in all United States public schools. If conservatives want religion to be taught in their children's schools, then they need to send their children to private religious schools.

    March 13, 2010 at 2:20 am |
  17. Mike-Granite City

    It makes me SICK. Removing the man that written the framework of are government for MOSES, WTF! I wish people would stop trying to rewrite history completely to make it fit their ideas. To remove the guy who thinks the bible is what made this country, their are a few BIG holes with your ideas. First, not all of the founding fathers were christians, second the constitution states that all treaties signed by are diplomates, and approved by the senate is national and international law, theirfore, why whould the country sign a treaty that states "The United States is not and will never be a Christian Nation". Also, are nation would never have first amendment. No other nation has it at all, give me another nation that has that. That is the reason the back of the great seal of the United States states "A New Order for the Ages" As in a new government not cortroled by popes, religion, or kings, by the people. Now stop playing with the truth of the country. The only thing I was ok with was renaming the govenment a republic because that is what we have, other then that LEAVE MY COUNTRY'S HISTORY ALONE

    March 13, 2010 at 2:12 am |
  18. Odie Truman

    Not surprising since President John F, Kennedy was shot from the Texas School book depository. Those "Wanted for Treason" flyers
    must be memorized in US history class.

    March 13, 2010 at 1:59 am |
  19. MsBrooklyn

    Look if you want your children to learn and study about your god and religion that is YOUR responsibility. That is what private/religious schools are for and going to church. If you don't like what is being taught in our public schools then you need to home school your children or pay for them to go to a private christian school.

    Don't force your ignorant religious beliefs on the rest of us. We prefer to have intelligent and worldly children not brain washed dumb children that can't think for themselves and are intolerant of others and go through life being afraid of the rest of the world and knowledge.

    March 13, 2010 at 1:59 am |
  20. Missy-TX

    As a former student and former employee of Texas Public Schools, I can honestly say this is the last thing the state board should be focusing on. Who cares about Reagan when the kids don't make it past the industrial revolution. I don't recall ever hearing about the Vietnam or first gulf wars. Those are important things to know since once again our country is inbroiled in very similar circumstances. Drop out rates are high, the standardized testing is a joke, STDs and teen pregnancy rates are shamefully out of control and the kids aren't learning. Special needs children are allowed to struggle and fall through the cracks. Coaches and administrators are overpaid while teachers make peanuts. "Education" is a dirty word that no one from the current TX governor to the current president, wants to talk about. Shame on Rick Perry and shame on the board!

    March 13, 2010 at 1:57 am |
  21. Mike

    I find it amusing that more "Conservative Christians" are calling text books too liberal; take a look at your own religion and see how liberal it really is, inherently supporting communism at it's core. And on that subject, not teaching capitalism but teaching the subject of free market enterprise? It is just a sudden panic that people are somehow leaning toward socialism based on their reactionary views to Obama – and furthermore, changing the terms to suit their views is just bias anyway. I can agree on the issue of America being called a republic rather than a democracy, however, and I also can agree that there should be more balance between the sides of the political spectrum, but Conservatives are just missing the point entirely... and further making themselves a laughing stock. Texas? Really?

    March 13, 2010 at 1:54 am |

    History should be corrected in the American History books. Why do they want to hide the truth? In order to really know the History of these United States one would have to go to Europe. Starting with Columbus who supposedly have discovered America when Black people and Indians were here already. Start with Washington who was not the first President. Since they want History in the schools write the truth not just what the stupid politicians want in the books. Tell it like it was. This is un-real.

    March 13, 2010 at 1:14 am |
  23. Ken - Pennsylvania

    Is Texas trying to prove to the rest of the nation what we already suspect: that a large number of its citizens are the country's least intelligent. History books as well as textbooks in all academic subjects should be chosen by the educators, NOT by the uneducated masses who come to them to learn. Heaven help the U.S.A. if the right wing extremists of Texas aren't soon made aware that they are the oddball extremists and not representative of the majority.

    March 13, 2010 at 12:17 am |
  24. John

    This is just moving back towards center. What events and people had the largest effect in our history? What were the effects of decisions made? The difference between FDR's expansion of government vs Reagan's goal of shrinking the same? What results did the actions of history effect?
    Yes, get an old history book, pre-1940, and see how American history used to be presented by the people who lived within 150 years of the founding fathers, including living Civil War vets.
    Presenting facts is not shoving propaganda down people's throats. Witholding facts or substituting the minors for the majors leave our children with a questionable foundation from which to make their own decisions of governance.

    March 13, 2010 at 12:15 am |
  25. Linh

    Conservatives have INS and OUTs for history books?? Are you serious? Who are they to choose what is history and what is not? I'm sorry but it makes me furious that they think they can just choose what part of history should or should not be in textbooks. I say no bias! No sugarcoating! Tell it how it is!

    March 13, 2010 at 12:10 am |
  26. RB in Calif

    Our 4 children went to a private Christian school through 8th grade and I frequently found false information in their textbooks (especially history books) that were from a Christian publishing company which of course I explained/corrected to them. Consequently I have 4 great kids that can think for themselves. I think it's a losing battle to try to censure publishing company's. But wanted to say God Bless You Anderson for bringing the subject to light. Hopefully some parents will be watching and know that they too have to correct what their kids are getting taught in the classroom. Keep up the honest news!!

    March 13, 2010 at 12:03 am |
  27. Matt

    As a college student with a love for history I find it almost blasphemous that any group would dare compare "the new deal" to Ronald Reagan. Who cares if it was enacted by a democratic president? In that case let's also ignore that the Russians made it to Berlin first in WWII, the Vietnam War, the Korean War and anything else that may demean America. C'mon it's HISTORY leave it as it is, like the kids in high school are gonna pay attention to it anyway.

    March 13, 2010 at 12:02 am |
  28. robert retchless

    as a life-long resident of Texas, i have no problem with a conservative approach to public school textbooks. if you would prefer a liberal education, feel free to move to california...there is plenty of space available there.

    March 12, 2010 at 11:54 pm |
  29. Leo - Atlanta

    I believe some individuals on the Texas school board could use a lesson in democracy. It's ok to be conservative just do not try an shove it down our throat's! History should not be rewritten to satisfy needs of the few. Oh and I seem to remember that Texas is also the state with a wing nut governor who talked about succession from the union. Brids of a feather flock together.

    March 12, 2010 at 11:32 pm |
  30. Edward

    Re-write Public School History Books, putting emphasis on Consevative points? I can see it now, ... "After destroying the Dinosaurs, Jesus sat down with Moses and Ronald Reagan, and transcribed the greatest document the world has ever seen, The Constitution of These United States."

    March 12, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
  31. Brian

    Hi Anderson,

    I would like to add the following for everyone to think about.

    Changing history has far reaching affects long after the debate has ended. History should be about facts and not part of a political agenda either liberal or conservative. Remember if you do not learn from history you are doomed to repeat it. So lets not repeat history by mingling religion, education and politics. Does anyone remember the inquisition?

    Bewildered by stupidity.

    March 12, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
  32. Mary

    I think Republicans have lost their minds. Their is a movement in our Country fueled by people like Rush Lymbaugh and Fox News financed by Ruppert Murdock that is destroying our nation and leading to possibly another civil war. They are twisting the intent of our Constitution to divide our citizens and to pit them against one another. This is no longer just politics but is dangerous and a threat to the stability of our nation. Allowing this movement to influence what goes into the textbooks of our children needs to be stopped now. I believe much of this is racially based and the motivation is similar to that of the thinking of the Klu Klux Klan. I am a white female senior citizen and what's happening to my Country is tearing me apart. I am glad that I am near the end of my life and will not have to witness the results of the craziness going on right now. I blame our political leaders for their weakness, ignorance and ineptitude. Congress is a disgrace and the Supreme Court is now openly allowing their politics to influence them into making decisions that are a threat to what is best for our Country. The abuse of the First Amendment is destroying us. This is all due to self-serving politicians and greed gone wild. How very, very tragic. We are no longer great. We do not need an enemy to destroy us, we are doing a good job of it ourselves.

    March 12, 2010 at 11:17 pm |


    March 12, 2010 at 11:15 pm |
  34. Diane Vandervoort

    This news is scary. To think that a small group of conservative leaders in Texas can change the history textbooks for the nation. As an educator, I have been aware of the importance of the textbook business in Texas. What can we do about this???

    I can tell you my family and I are sick and tired of these conservative "nuts." The way that they are against anything that the Democrats want to pass in the Congress is frightening. They get away with their lies on
    Thanks for your coverage!, Diane VanDervoort

    March 12, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
  35. Billy Ray

    Sounds like more right wing hysteria. Look, I was born and raised and educated in the U.S. I have lived and taught school in Canada since 1962 (happily retired now), and have been amazed at the twisting of the truth in American history books. For example, Columbus "discovered" America?? Baloney. The Scandinavian vikings "discovered" and settled on the northern tip of the Canadian province of Newfoundland hundreds of years before Columbus was born! Did Columbus ever set foot on "American" soil, or was it some island in the Caribbean? And forget all of the above. I would say the indigenous natives of America "discovered" this continent centuries before any of the textbook "explorers." Another issue - just who won the War of 1812? You'll not find the truth by reading most American textbooks. Sadly, American students are being fed distorted (false?) information in order to keep the patriotic fervor burning! Oh well, we Canadians will just keep sighing, shrugging our shoulders, shaking our heads, and laughing it off, as we know Americans have to be the "best" and "first" and the "winner of every war" - no matter how twisted the facts.

    March 12, 2010 at 11:10 pm |
  36. Keisha R. - Kansas City Mo.

    History textbooks have always been lacking or incorrect in many subjects. Kids should just learn what they need to learn to get a passing grade. Eventually, they will find out what was missed later in life.

    March 12, 2010 at 11:09 pm |
  37. Thomas Weiler

    As with every controversy, the rightness of an opinion does not depend on who has it. Likewise, the importance of a historic event does not depend on who was responsible for it, but on what impact it had on society. Textbooks should cover these events based on this impact and their consequences rather than on a balance between arbitrarily defined "sides". Political or religious battle must not take influence on the coverage of history.

    March 12, 2010 at 11:08 pm |
  38. Laura

    What happened to separation of church and state? If you want your kids to have religion in their textbooks, send them to private school. What we need to focus on is giving these kids a better fundamental education, not a moral one.

    March 12, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
  39. elyse stuckey

    This news is really scarry it seems like the teabaggers are taking over our country. I hope the rest of the nation does not follow this direction. I really hope that textbooks are not changed in the way the school board in Texas seems to be doing . A right wing religous group should not be allowed to dictate the teaching of history. Textbooks are not left wing this is a crazy history cannot be changed by one school board.

    March 12, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
  40. jmitchell

    This is one of the best segments you've had, Anderson. It is not a rewriting of history, it is the telling of other people contributions to our country. We've been stuck on stupid for far too long! America is a free enterprise country. America was founded on Biblical principles. George Washington was our first President, but, there were others who have made tremendous contributions to this nation as well. Lets offer our kids the opportunity to learn of those other individuals that we adults were never able to learn about.

    March 12, 2010 at 11:03 pm |
  41. Michael

    Removing passages about one of our founders and is views shows how far the religious right is willing to go in their attempted whitewash of this country's history and culture. I sincerely hope that the publishing houses and their authors are as liberal as those on the State Board in Texas believe, as that may be the only way that these "standards" do not make their way into texts for our youth. Sadly, our society is Capitalist, unlike what those on the board believe and some house will of course produce a book that meets these biases.

    They did get one thing correct. This country is not a democracy, and never has been. We are and always have been a Republic.

    I don't understand what Moses has to do with this country or it's history, but then again, I know that many of our founders were not Christians, though most believed in some higher power.

    March 12, 2010 at 10:58 pm |
  42. Pat

    The United States of America was not founded as a theocracy, and I've not read in the laws of this land that Christianity was to be forced into the lives of our citizens. I am a Christian and I'm really tired of those who are hijacking my religious beliefs to threaten and/or rule over the citizens. The Christians who believe they have supremacy over the rest of us are no better than the Islamic terrorists who wish us to bend to their way... And all under the guise of God/Allah. So while these same folks would also insist on the 10 Commandments being placed in public places on government property I'm sure they would scream bloody murder if symbols of other great religions were placed alongside those Commandments.... Leaving one to ask just how many of those Commandments to these self-serving people actually adhere to? I believe those in charge of the books should be replaced. Period.

    March 12, 2010 at 10:57 pm |
  43. Joan Schneider


    March 12, 2010 at 10:54 pm |
  44. Sheereen

    As a Texas high school student, I have no problems with the current history textbook given in the classroom. I would rather have no bias in the textbook than change it to fit Texas conservative politicians' needs.

    March 12, 2010 at 10:54 pm |
  45. Glad to be out of Texas

    Texas is an embarrassment. I lived in Texas for 3 years and it just amazed me how backwards and pig-headed many people in this state are. I now live in Oklahoma and sadly it is in even worse shape than Texas. How did this part of the country end up this way?

    March 12, 2010 at 10:53 pm |
  46. Alfredo

    Unbelievable. What a polarized country. History is fact, not opinion. Somehow, the US is less and less a rational/objective -based culture, where all is based on political perspective and ideology. A blinding political ideology that is more like a religion rather than an opinion. If we choose to teach children in this polarized nature, what will be the future of this country?

    March 12, 2010 at 10:53 pm |
  47. Lance -Lexington, KY

    It is ABSOLUTELY ASTOUNDING that these social conservatives are the same people who had a full-blown panic attack about the President talking to school children about success–calling it "indoctrination", yet they don't seem to flinch one bit about manipulating what is taught in history books. They are the epitome of hypocrisy. ABSOLUTELY ASTOUNDING.

    March 12, 2010 at 10:53 pm |
  48. Marshall

    I've lived in Austin all my life and I have to say that this is just embarassing. The way the conservative members of the school board are conducting themselves is petty and senseless. I will be protesting these proposed changes until they dropped and can only hope that a logic will prevail.

    March 12, 2010 at 10:52 pm |
  49. loren jaffe

    The right wing in Texas is politicizing education in Texas. We're the laughing stock olf the country. Rewriting history? Maybe Gov. Pery should suceed...

    March 12, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
  50. Marsha

    Texas has it right. The liberal mindset is filth.

    March 12, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
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