Average Citizens Can Make a Difference in Textbooks
by Lt. Col. Roy White (ret.)
On Friday, November 21, 2014 something monumental happened in Austin, Texas, at the State Board of Education meeting. The Truth in Texas Textbooks (TTT) Coalition changed the perception that says, “Average citizens cannot make a difference in the content of students’ textbooks.”
TTT is a grassroots organization composed of average concerned citizens formed in October 2013 with a simple mission: to insure the proposed social studies textbooks are as error free as possible.
What did these 100 unpaid volunteers do? They corrected inaccurate or misleading textbooks for 5 million Texas children and found over 1,500 errors in 32 textbooks.
The following are just a small sample of the errors TTT found:
- Publishers attempted to push the softer definition of “jihad” as the “struggle to become a better person.” TTT pointed to original Islamic sources, the Quran, Hadiths, and Mohammad’s biography describing jihad as a mandatory offensive war (including violence) to be waged by Muslims against all non-Muslims until all persons are followers of Allah. Attempts by publishers to re-define the term is “spin” and not based upon original Islamic sources.
- “Conditions in Cuba are painted as highly beneficial for young people from a healthcare and education standpoint.” Misleading information and half-truths is how TTT characterized this description of life in Cuba with details of other reports and sources providing facts justifying TTT’s position.
- “It’s easy to get depressed about Climate Change.” Telling a child what emotions to have on a topic is “agenda building.” Only one side of the issue was told. TTT urged both sides be presented on climate change, but publishers chose to pull the book as the solution.
- Many publishers routinely referred to the U. S. form of government as a “democracy.” The word “democracy” is not found in the Constitution nor in any of the 50 state Constitutions. Our form of government is a constitutional republic. The Pledge of Allegiance to the flag is to the Republic for which it stands, not to the democracy for which it stands.
- Publishers claimed in several instances that Muslims were the original inhabitants of the area known as Israel. TTT pointed out that Jews inhabited this area hundreds of years before Islam existed.
- Multiple publishers left out the terms “Islamic jihadist” and “Muslim terrorists” even when the attackers used these terms in describing themselves. No mention was made that the Barbary pirates were Muslims and the 911 hijackers were Islamic jihadists. The word “Islamic” was absent when describing the terrorists in the 1983 Lebanon Marine Barrack attacks. If the terrorists/jihadists refer to themselves using these terms, then why won’t publishers use those same terms?
- Gorbachav had more to do with the Berlin Wall falling than President Ronald Reagan according to one publisher; the deficiencies of Communism were downplayed while Western democracies were marginalized; TTT was able to get re-writes on these and many other distorted areas.
Publishers attempted to claim many of TTT’s entries were not “errors” but instead were requests for “additional content.” A half-truth or omission of fact requires additional content for the student to know the “full truth.” Partial truth is not sufficient. Fortunately, at the direction of the SBOE, the publishers began to make changes.
On November 21, 2014, the SBOE approved the final selection of textbooks. One publisher’s entire collection of textbooks (Worldview)was removed from the approval process primarily due to the publisher’s failure to respond to TTT’s inputs.
Our efforts won’t stop until we analyze all of the publishers’ replies and post them on our website athttp://truthintexastextbooks.com/. The public can see the final grade we put on each textbook based upon the Texas Essential Knowledge Skills (TEKS) compliance rate and how many of the 1,500 errors are corrected.
TTT will rate the books “Good,” “Acceptable,” “Poor,” or “Worse.” This simple report card rating system will be easy to understand and will assist parents, teachers, and school board members as they analyze the books to determine the best textbooks for adoption by their local school districts.
Our final report will be out for local Texas school districts (1,200+ school districts) as they begin reviewing the 95 social studies textbooks for purchase beginning in early January 2015. By visiting TTT’s website in the coming weeks, interested citizens can gain helpful information on the best textbooks for their school districts to adopt. Each of the 32 reviews can be found here.
The secret to TTT’s success has been average citizens who took the time to get trained, who dedicated their time to the project, who accepted criticism of their work, and who worked together as a team following the TTT procedures. I can never thank them enough or pass along all of the accolades communicated to me for their work.
The TTT process has been so effective that eight other states have asked for our protocols so that citizen volunteers can duplicate them in their own states.
Changing textbooks requires entering the review cycle at the right time with the right team. A public conference call for any interested individuals or groups who want more information on TTT is scheduled for late January 2015. More details on precise time and call-in information will be on our website beginning in early January 2015.
Publishers want to sell books, but making changes during the adoption process BEFORE they go to final print is the key. This is much better than for the public to complain about textbook content AFTER the books are already in students’ hands.
Please get involved in your children’s future and in their education; these textbooks are the pathway to their minds and to our country’s future.
You can see the testimony of several of our volunteers and also from the leadership of TTT by going to these YouTube links:
Lt Col (ret) Roy White, TTT Chairman counters CAIR’s argument Islam was spread equally by missionary work, trade, and military conquest; answers SBOEs questions and discusses TTT
Dr Amy Jo Baker, TTT’s Director of Curriculum, highlights the false narrative publishers use to describe “jihad”
Karin Gililliand discusses “constitutional republic” versus democracy errors
Barbara Wilson discusses biases found in Great Depression discussions
Barbara Lamontague; false narrative about Gen Douglas MacArthur, praise for Communism
Lt. Col (ret.) Roy White, USAF, Chairman
Truth in Texas Textbooks Coalition