A proposal designed to prevent use of school textbooks that have been altered for political purposes — opposed by a local lawmaker — has passed the state Senate and is now in the state Assembly.
The June 1 vote on SB 302 was 24-15. Calling it unnecessary and costly, state Sen. Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, voted against it.
Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed similar legislation last year.
The proposal arose out of changes made in Texas school curricula last year.
The Texas Board of Education adopted guidelines that some historians and other critics say skew textbooks to the right. The school board countered that it was moving textbooks away from an existing leftist slant.
What Texas does with its textbooks matters elsewhere because, as a large state, Texas textbook publishers sell their books to other states, including some to California.
The California bill requires the state Board of Education to review all social studies textbooks used in California to ensure that they have not been altered as a result of the textbook changes in Texas.
Among other changes criticized as political, the Texas Board of Education questioned the separation of church and state, gave Confederate President Jefferson Davis equal time with President Abraham Lincoln, and emphasized the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s.
More specifically, changes in the Texas texts:
Highlight the inaugural address of Jefferson Davis, president of the secessionist Confederate States of America.
Drop President Thomas Jefferson from a section devoted to great political thinkers.
Reduce information about the impact of Latinos in U.S. history.
Replace hip-hop with country-western music as an important cultural influence.
Replace “capitalism” with “free market” and the “democratic” form of government with “constitutional republic.”
Minimize the separation of church and state.
California’s Senate bill would require a review of all social studies textbooks used in the state since the changes.
It would permit the Department of Education to contract out reviews, with the publisher paying, and require the board to keep the Secretary of Education, as well as the chairmen of both the Senate and Assembly education policy committees, informed.
In response to a request from The Tribune for his rationale in voting no, Blakeslee wrote that despite any changes the Texas school board might make, “textbook publishers will still have to meet California’s stringent curriculum standards if they want their textbooks to be used in California, which is one of the top three textbook purchasers in the nation.”
“The bill is also problematic because it is going to subject publishers to excessive review fines,” he added. Other observers have noted that adoption of curricula is frozen anyway in California because of budget cuts.