Historians blast proposed Texas social studies curriculum





Historians criticized proposed revisions to the Texas social studies curriculum Tuesday, saying that many of the changes are historically inaccurate and that they would affect textbooks and classrooms far beyond the state's borders....

"The books that are altered to fit the standards become the best-selling books, and therefore within the next two years they'll end up in other classrooms," said Fritz Fischer, chairman of the National Council for History Education, a group devoted to history teaching at the pre-college level. "It's not a partisan issue, it's a good history issue."...

"I'm made uncomfortable by mandates of this kind for sure," said Paul S. Boyer, emeritus professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of several of the most popular U.S. history textbooks, including some that are on the approved list in Texas.

Boyer said he had not fully reviewed the Texas curriculum and did not know how he would respond to it. But he added that in theory, changes in his text could be required that would make him uncomfortable endorsing his own book....

"We now have the ability to deliver completely customized content" to different states, said Josef Blumenfeld, spokesman for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, one of three major publishers that supply Texas with most of its social studies textbooks.

But some historians weren't so certain. Fischer, who is a historian at the University of Northern Colorado, noted that first-year teachers fall back on what's most readily available to them -- their textbooks.

"Teachers have a lot to do and a lot on their plate, and if there's a nice big textbook that the kids have been taking home, they'll use it," he said.

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