The Texas Textbook Massacre: 'Christian Conservative Voting Bloc' on the Attack

Texas-based reporter Michael Brick was in Austin in anticipation of a Board of Education vote on the political content of textbooks in Texas schools: "Texas School Board Set to Vote Textbook Revisions."

Typical of the Times' coverage of the matter, Brick found lots of "conservatives" on one side of the debate over Texas textbooks in Friday's story, but no countervailing liberals, though they were in full protest mode at a hearing on Wednesday. Neither did Brick convey concerns of conservatives over liberal indoctrination in past editions of schoolbooks. Here's a sample of Brick's dense labeling:

After facing months of protest, conservative members of the Texas Board of Education were expected Thursday night to vote to teach schoolchildren a version of American history that emphasizes the roles of capitalist enterprise, the military, Christianity and modern Republican political figures.

The scheduled vote was a preliminary tally, with the final vote by the same group planned for Friday.


But Texas has only increased in stature as a symbolic battleground over the politicization of education, largely because of the emergence of a conservative voting bloc on the board.

Once a decade, the board members rewrite hundreds of pages of guidelines known as the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, the blueprint for standardized tests used to judge teachers, principals and entire schools.

Last year, conservatives on the board changed the state science curriculum to undermine the teaching of evolution, cell formation and the Big Bang.


And in a recurring debate concerning the use of the phrase "such as" when listing historical figures for inclusion in textbooks, conservative members of the board underscored their influence on textbook publishers.

"There's not a 'such as' out there that doesn't appear in the book," said Patricia Hardy, a Republican career educator who votes independently of the conservative bloc. Teachers look for books specifically emphasizing material that will be covered on standardized tests, Ms. Hardy added, saying, "They weren't born yesterday."

A member of the board's Christian conservative voting bloc, Ken Mercer, responded: "Thank you. I'm very happy."

By contrast, an opponent quoted near the end was not identified as on the left, though the politics of his organization are clear:

One opponent of the changes, Benjamin T. Jealous, president of the N.A.A.C.P., vowed to take the fight to other states.

Two photo captions of protesters also failed to note any political agenda on their behalf. A similar pattern held in James McKinley Jr.'s previous March 11 piece, also drenched in "conservative" labels yet ignoring a radical leftist group featured in an accompanying photo: the "Chicano" nationalist movement MEChA.

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