ALL of you know about the collective madness that drove the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) to launch a maniacal assault on science education (especially the theory of evolution) and also on social studies. We weren’t disturbed by some of their conservative political tweaks; but along with the rest of the civilized world we were stunned by their mindless assault on science (see Texas Science Chainsaw Massacre: It’s Over), and on the Enlightenment — typified by their savaging of Thomas Jefferson (see Texas Education: Embracing the Dark Ages).
The Texas SBOE members said they were doing those crazy things to be true to their conservatism; but mandating theocracy and ignorance isn’t conservative — it’s insane. There’s plenty of ideological madness in both political parties, but what happened in Texas was evidence that a deranged theocratic coup has taken control of that state’s Republican party.
After the dust settled, the concern was widely expressed about the size of the Texas textbook market, and the fear that this would influence textbook publishers to provide texts for all states based on the Texas standards. In one post last year (Afterthoughts: the Texas Textbook Travesty) we reported some news we found in the Christian Science Monitor:
Other states are watching closely. A state senate committee in California has passed a bill that would ensure no California textbooks contain any Texas-driven changes.
We’ve been wondering what happened with that. We found a couple of news articles, but the papers with those stories forbid copying any of their content without permission. That’s inconvenient, but it only encourages us to provide better information than they do. We went directly to the website of the California Legislature for information on SB 1451.
Clicking on the “status” link we learn that the bill was passed on 08 September and it’s been sent to the Governor for his signature. The text of the final version provides, inter alia, with bold font added by us:
Section 1 (f) Section 60044 of the Education Code prohibits instructional material to be used in schools that contains any matter reflecting adversely upon persons because of their race, color, creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, handicap, or occupation, as well as any sectarian or denominational doctrine or propaganda contrary to law.
(g) On March 12, 2010, the Texas State Board of Education, which consists of 15 elected members statewide, voted to adopt revisions to their social studies curriculum for the 2010-11 school year (formally referred to as revisions to Texas Administrative Code …) .
(h) It is widely presumed that the proposed changes to Texas’ social studies curriculum will have a national impact on textbook content since Texas is the second largest purchaser of textbooks in the United States, second only to California.
(i) As proposed, the revisions are a sharp departure from widely accepted historical teachings that are driven by an inappropriate ideological desire to influence academic content standards for children in public schools.
(j) The proposed changes in Texas, if subsequently reflected in textbooks nationwide, pose a serious threat to Sections … of the Education Code as well as a threat to the apolitical nature of public school governance and academic content standards in California.
Section 1 of the bill appears to be findings, and California doesn’t like what it finds. Here are excerpts from the operational part of the new law:
SEC. 2. Section 60049 is added to the Education Code, to read:
(a) Upon the next adoption of the history-social science curriculum framework, the state board shall ensure the framework is consistent with provisions governing instructional materials, including, but not limited to …
(b) School districts shall ensure that the content of instructional materials adopted for use in grades 9 to 12, inclusive, is consistent with provisions governing the content of instructional materials, including, but not limited to …
SEC. 3. Section 60050 of the Education Code is amended to read:
(b) The state board shall inform the Chairperson of the Assembly Committee on Education, the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Education, and the Secretary for Education of content that it interprets is the result of changes to the Texas Administrative Code …
Wow! They not only have to make sure that any new texts remain consistent with California’s existing standards, they’re also required to search for and report any content in material under review that is specifically the result of the new Texas rules. This new law can be translated into a few simple words:
California to textbook publishers: Keep your Texas-style creationist and theocratic textbooks out of our state!
Now it’s up to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign the bill. We’re guessing that he will.
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