Ten scholars have criticized history textbooks under consideration for use in Texas high schools for, among other things, portraying Islam in a negative light and exaggerating the influence of Christianity in the founding of the United States, The Texas Tribune reports.
The criticism, common in recent years, stems from the State Board of Education’s 2010 decision to alter the social-studies curriculum in Texas, lending it a conservative spin. The scholars—hired by the Texas Freedom Network, a nonprofit group that advocates for religious freedom and that on Wednesday released a report laying out the criticism—said the 2010 curriculum makes it hard for textbook publishers both to be historically accurate and to comply with Texas standards.
“The Board of Education and these texts had the opportunity to empower high-school students with knowledge—instead they chose to treat students as pawns in our cultural war,” said Emile Lester, an associate professor of political science and international affairs at the University of Mary Washington. “Too often, these texts exaggerate or even invent history.”
A Republican member of the Board of Education, David Bradley, dismissed the historians’ concerns and said they were unlikely to spark a change in the curriculum. “Being that the Texas Freedom Network actively recruits liberal opponents to run against the board, I don’t think they are going to make much headway with the board’s majority,” Mr. Bradley said. “If Texas Freedom Network is unhappy with [the textbooks], then I am probably going to feel pretty good about them.”