Textbook debate affects East Texas and nation

By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – It's become the focus of national attention: Texas State Board of Education's debate on what to include, or exclude, from Social Studies textbooks. As the number one textbook buyer, what Texas decides to include affects students across the country.

The outcome of the State Board of Education's debate has some heavy consequences.

"The ramifications for our local school district as well as nationwide," said Superintendent Roy Knight, Lufkin I.S.D.

At the heart of the issue: What to include? And what to leave out? As our history gets longer, and the time to teach it stays the same.

"You're always deciding what to leave out, how important is Eli Whitney anymore compared to Bill Gates?... About whether Charlie Wilson's War out to be included or whether the Vietnam War should be marginalized?" said Superintendent Knight.

Board members are elected - not appointed - sparking heated controversy about what's influencing these decisions.

"The board is now affiliated with political parties," said Superintendent Knight.

"The far left is very scared of a place called Texas. We draw a line in the sand," said Ken Mercer, Texas School Board Member.

"It's not fair for public school students to have personal and political ideologies and agendas of the conservative state board member crammed down their throats and their textbooks," said Garret Mize, Student.

Concerning the superintendent of L.I.S.D. is politics versus objectivity in what to teach our kids.

He hopes all sides can come together for an educated, balanced decision.

"It certainly causes great scrutiny and from great scrutiny I think leads to better public policy," said Superintendent Knight.

The nation is watching Texas hammer out the future of how we teach America's history, and it's something no one is taking lightly.

"It's a national issue because Americans are very, very passionate about America and they want that expressed," said Barbara Cargill, State Board of Education Member.

"How do you help kids understand the nature of our history so we learn from those things positively and negatively?" said Superintendent Knight.

The debate began Wednesday and continues in Austin Friday.  It will conclude with a vote on a final draft. The final vote is planned for may.

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