Texas school board mulls limiting Islam references
April Castro of the Associated Press reports:
Social conservatives are seeking to curtail references to Islam in Texas textbooks, warning of what they describe as a creeping Middle Eastern influence in the nation's publishing industry.
The State Board of Education plans to vote Friday on a one-page resolution calling on textbook publishers to limit what they print about Islam in world history books.
Critics say it's another example of the ideological board trying to politicize public education in the Lone Star State.
"It's just more of the same Islamaphobic, xenophobic attitude we've been seeing around the country," said Mustafaa Carroll, executive director of the Council of American Islamic Relations of Texas. "It's not like Muslims are not part of the country. This kind of attitude is not healthy, it's not even American."
Future boards that will choose the state's next generation of social studies texts would not be bound by the resolution.
The resolution cites world history books no longer used in Texas schools that it says devoted more lines of text to Islamic beliefs and practices than Christian beliefs and practices.
"Diverse reviewers have repeatedly documented gross pro-Islamic, anti-Christian distortions in social studies texts," reads a preliminary draft of the resolution.
The resolution also claims "more such discriminatory treatment of religion may occur as Middle Easterners buy into the U.S. public school textbook oligopoly, as they are doing now."
The measure was suggested to the board this summer by Odessa businessman Randy Rives, who lost his Republican primary bid for a seat on the panel earlier this year. Members of a social conservative bloc of the board then asked chairwoman Gail Lowe to put the resolution on this week's agenda.
"The board seems to be running with it without taking a critical look at what's in these textbooks to see if there actually is a bias," said Jose Medina, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. "We don't see what the point of this resolution is. There are so many other pressing issues the SBOE could be taking up right now.
"This is not going to have any practical effect."
The resolution concludes by warning publishers the "State Board of Education 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 by demonizing or lionizing one or more of them over others."
Social conservatives control the 15-member board for now, although the landscape is certain to change after the general election. The board in recent years has become a battleground for social conservatives and liberal watchdogs, each accusing the other of imposing ideological agendas into what about 4.8 million public school students learn in Texas classrooms.