Texas school board to vote on textbooks criticized for religious bent

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 21, 2014 10:02 AM

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) - The Texas State Board of Education, whose decisions can have national ramifications, on Friday plans to vote on whether to approve textbooks criticized for exaggerating the influence biblical figures had in forming the U.S. system of government.

The Republican-controlled 15-member body will be voting whether to approve the use of more than 100 textbooks for all ages of students in the second-most populous U.S. state, with about 5 million children in the public school system.

Once textbooks are approved in Texas, they are often marketed nationally and used for years in classrooms across the country.

Liberal critics say the social studies and history textbooks up for a vote overemphasize the role that Christianity and biblical figures such as Moses played in the formation of the nation's founding documents while giving little attention to constitutional provisions against the state establishing religion.

They also say world geography textbooks downplay the role that armed conquest played in the spread of Christianity and misrepresent fundamental points of other major religions.

Some conservatives have criticized the textbooks for not giving more attention to what they said was the role violence played in the spread of Islam.

The more than 1,000 Texas public school districts can choose their own books and materials, but most follow the state-approved list.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)