LISD: Controversial textbooks don't prevent good education

LISD: Controversial textbooks don't prevent good education

Colored pencils, calculators and spiral notebooks are essentials when it comes to school supplies. Textbooks are another essential, and they'll be brand new for the upcoming school year. But on many report cards, the books are already getting an F.

"Very early on they started writing out the history of slavery," said Professor Lisa Mundey of the University of St. Thomas. "That's what generations of southerners learned, and they didn't really ever put it back in."

Critics say some of the new books downplay slavery as a cause of the Civil War, barely address racial segregation and don't even mention the Ku Klux Klan or Jim Crow laws.

Some professors say, as a result, students are graduating high school unprepared for college.

"What happens to blacks in the South and slavery, the beatings, the whippings. They're not prepared for that," said University of Houston professor Tyrone Tillery. "There is a visceral response on the part of students who take the U.S. history course."

The textbooks were selected last year by the State Board of Education. Chairwoman Donna Bahorich says the books are not biased.

"I have to take a look at the materials that we had to look at this past fall, and I frankly didn't see that," Bahorich said. "It's always a balancing act."

That balancing act is between the textbooks and other materials, like biographies and original documents.

"Our textbooks are an excellent resource but they are not the finality of what our students are going to learn," said Joni Rodela, Lubbock ISD's Social Studies Coordinator. "We try to pull in those documents, we try to pull in political cartoons of the era and as many first hand accounts as possible."

Rodela says she's confident students are getting a well-rounded education.

"The state of Texas is, rest assured, covering each and every one of these sensitive topics and sensitive issues, but we are also really looking at the process of creating a nation where we've gone from slavery to a nation where we have equal opportunity for all races," Rodela said.

The Texas Education Agency creates a list of approved textbooks that school districts must choose from. Those selected by LISD do discuss the actions of the KKK and the effects of Jim Crow laws.

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