Naked City

Protesting SBOE Censorship

Today and Friday, the State Board of Education is scheduled to vote on proposed social studies texts to be approved for use in Texas school districts. On Tuesday, the Texas Freedom Network hosted a press conference and rally on the Capitol steps to publicly deliver thousands of postcards addressed to the board, the Texas Education Agency, textbook publishers, and legislators, calling for an end to what TFN director Samantha Smoot called "textbook censorship ... [and] far-right groups pushing their personal religious and political beliefs into Texas public school classrooms." Several dozen citizens gathered on the steps in support of the TFN.

Smoot denounced editorial changes -- deletion of prehistoric dates, softening criticism of slavery, promotion of Christian beliefs -- already accepted by publishers at the insistence of radical-right groups like the Eagle Forum and the Citizens for a Sound Economy and asked that the board, the TEA, and the Legislature take steps to "change the whole process" of textbook adoption. "We do not live in Tuna, Texas," Smoot said. "The people here today represent the mainstream middle, and they are here to raise of chorus of mainstream voices saying, 'I object to textbook censorship.'"

UT classics professor Andrew Riggsby told reporters that too many Texas students come to college miseducated by "censored and distorted" textbooks, full of inaccurate or incomplete history imposed by the "small group of busybodies" who annually force their personal religious and political beliefs on the SBOE and the publishers. "I teach ancient history, and I can't omit inconvenient or unpleasant facts." What the SBOE allows, said Riggsby, is "not a review," but "vandalism."

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