AUSTIN, Texas (Christian Examiner) -- Along party lines, the Texas Board of Education approved textbooks that will give students in the Lone Star State a positive Christian worldview and higlight the Bible's influence on the nation's founding fathers.
The Associated Press reports the board approved 89 learning materials, defeated six and a seventh was withdrawn by major publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt at the last minute. The vote was 10 (Republicans) to 5 (Democrats) for the new books. It is the first time in 12 years the state has changed learning materials in social studies and history.
The texts were submitted for approval in the summer, have undergone numerous edits and have been highly criticized by both conservatives and liberals. When hundreds of last minute changes were made, a proposal to delay the board's Nov. 21 vote to allow more time for review was defeated.
"I'm comfortable enough that these books have been reviewed by many, many people," said Thomas Ratliff, a Republican and the board's vice chairman. "They are not perfect; they never will be."
Opponents of the new curriculum take issue with the presentation of Islam being tied to terrorism and human activity linked to climate change. They also claim the content exaggerates the influence of Moses and the Ten Commandments on the nation's Founding Fathers. Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin are credited as well.
These changes have come about because of requirements established in 2010 by the state board of education. Texas Essential Knowledge Skills (TEKS) include conservative concepts to balance out what is perceived as an inherent liberal bias in classrooms. Among the requirements was that lessons about Moses and Mosaic Law be included in the resources.
The textbooks and classroom software packages are expected to reach more than five million Texas public school students next year, but possibly more if Texas' large impact on the textbook market spills into schools in other states.
According to the Houston Chronicle, most Texas school districts exclusively purchase books from the approved list despite a law passed in 2011 that gives them more freedom to select their own. The newly approved textbooks are set to be used in classrooms until the 2025 fall semester.