Board of Education votes against changing textbook approval process

Rachel Freeman

The Texas Board of Education will not make changes to the State’s textbook approval process.

Last Wednesday, the board voted 8-7 not to change how textbooks are approved. The process for textbook adoption will continue to include review by a volunteer review panel, but not any approval from university experts or education professionals. The state’s textbook approval process was called into question recently after concern from a Houston mother about a ninth grade world history textbook which referred to African slaves as “workers.”

The proposal, which was not approved, would have added another review panel composed completely of university professors to vet textbooks. This panel would be in addition to the current volunteer review panel. The volunteer panel already has a requirement that the majority of the panel be “experts,” but to be qualified as an “expert,” a volunteer must only have some professional experience with the subject matter, such as teaching.

Board member Geraldine Miller (R-Dallas), said she was opposed to the proposal because it would be sending the wrong message to those already on the panel.

“I am very opposed to this idea [to add an expert committee],” Miller said in the board meeting. “Because what you’re doing is undercutting the teachers retired and active who we put on these committees and the respect we give them. I don’t want to send a message that we do not feel that the current system is just, ‘Well, they’re not that important. We think the college people are more important.’”
Education professor Randy Bomer said he supports allowing university experts to fact check textbooks.

“I support more information in education, not less,” Bomer said. “Why would the people of Texas want less expertise involved in the development of the content Texas children will learn? I worry that the public will interpret the Board of Education’s actions as being ideologically motivated because they want to advance myth-making in children’s learning.”

Radio-television-film freshman Emma Wright said she believes the textbooks used in public school should be vetted by experts.

“It [is] unfair to students if they are not learning correct information,” Wright said. “I think there will likely be a large number of people who wish to simply portray Texas in the best light [on the citizen review], regardless of whether the facts are accurate. Children need to be taught all sides of an argument.”