Saturday, September 25, 2010

Texas SBOE: An Anti-Islam Paper Tiger

Does anyone else see this but me? Yesterday the Texas State Board of Education, with its rightwing evangelical majority, in two separate actions, did something that is totally inexplicable to me: passed an anti-Islamic resolution just after revealing that they had nothing with which to back their bigoted hand.

You see, the Texas school board thinks that because Texas is the 2nd largest purchaser of textbooks in the nation, this gives them the right, and the gall, to dictate their bigoted religious agenda to national book publishers.

The part I like the best is this:

“RESOLVED by the SBOE, that diverse reviewers have repeatedly documented gross pro-Islamic/anti-Christian distortions in Social Studies texts; that Social Studies TEKS cannot provide relief, because they tell what a course should cover, not all it should avoid; that under Texas Education Code §28.002(h) and (i), the SBOE must enforce "the basic democratic values of our state and national heritage; that chronic partiality to one of the world's great religions, and animus against another, flout democratic values and the letter and spirit of this rule; and that Texas Administrative Code §66.66(c)(4) provides, ‘[N]o instructional material may be adopted that contains content that clearly conflicts with the stated purpose of the Texas Education Code, §28.002(h)’”
Do you see it? The Texas SBOE places itself in the position of protecting America from pro-Islamic forces that seek to denigrate Christian history while at the same time glorifying Islam.

The resolution is non-binding, whatever that means, but their intention is clear: it is a warning to textbook publishers to censor themselves in any attempt to describe the religion of Islam in a positive light or to characterize the actions of Muslims in any way other than to demonize them. And in so doing, they are also to remember to speak kindly of murderous Crusaders as well as the anti-Semitism of the Church.

Do that they say, or face the consequences of the Texas SBOE, which “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/or by demonizing or lionizing one or more of them over others.”

But I am afraid that the snarling tiger that the SBOE pretends to be has no fangs. Or teeth.

Because the SBOE, courtesy of their own governor, and their own shortsightedness, don’t have the wherewithal to buy textbooks, let alone dictate their content.

“The State Board of Education decided Thursday to scale back the purchase of supplemental science materials for Texas students in the face of a projected state revenue deficit that already has delayed plans to buy hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of new textbooks.”
The school board is so strapped for cash that not only are they postponing the purchase of new textbooks that speak to their recently passed Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills recipe for ignorance, but now they are even cutting back on the “supplemental science materials,” and will only plan to purchase these for high school students. These materials, also known as ancillary materials, are typically softbound workbooks, lab manuals and the like. Expendable material in other words.

There is no money for textbooks, yet the SBOE has the gall to dictate to national textbook publishers how they are to handle Christianity and Islam in their textbooks, or suffer the consequences of being rejected by them for purchase in the state of Texas.

Not only then, is the Texas SBOE again in the national limelight for the religious bigotry that has made them famous around the world, it also seems that their threats to these publishers are about as empty as their bank accounts.
UPDATE: A commenter left a link to a video report on the school board's latest foray into religious indoctrination. It's a good one and I have embedded it below.

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1 comment:

Bmac said...

Hi Hal,
I liked what you had to say in this post. It definitely seems that the Texas SBOE has some much bigger issues they should focus on tackling, such as funding & actually educating their students, instead of promoting just one religious belief.

I have a video I thought you might enjoy from

It includes a combination of reactions to the situation, gathered in clips & quotes from a few different news outlets. Check out the quotes from D Magazine towards the end-it sounds a lot like what you pointed out in your post. I hope you’ll consider embedding or linking to the video; I think it would fit in well with what you had to say and provide a nice additional resource for your readers. gathers information from various news outlets, and puts it together to provide multiple views of news stories. analyzes the information, with the goal of providing a diverse perspective of the story to those that might normally receive their news from a single source.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email me.

Brittany McIntyre