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Why the Texas textbook market matters, even if you don’t live anywhere near there

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Here, we’ve given a fair amount of space to Texas textbook hearings, and it’s only fair to say why. Godfather Politics recalls (September 21, 2011)

Texas distributes 48 million textbooks every year. This is a huge market if you are a textbook publisher. While California is the nation’s largest textbook market, the state’s financial crisis has not made it a major player. New York and Illinois are also big markets. Any new textbooks are going to be tailored to fit with what the textbook adoption agencies decide in to do in Texas since Texas has money to purchase new textbooks. “The state’s $22 billion education fund is among the largest educational endowments in the country.”

Long before these current battles, Mel and Norma Gabler scrutinized textbooks and wrecked havoc on the textbook industry for nearly 50 years. They got involved in reviewing textbooks when they found factual errors in their 14-year old son’s textbook, in particular, the absence of the phrase “under God” from the text of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Further study showed interpretive bias on economic, political, and religious subjects. Their most famous find was a 1973 fifth-grade American history textbook that devoted more attention to Marilyn Monroe than to George Washington. Norma Gabler remarked, “We’re not quite ready for Marilyn Monroe as the mother of our country.”

So Texas is an education consumer that, for some reason, has a problem with wasting students’ time with political correctness, bilge, and crackpots (including Darwin’s crackpots)? And has the money to make it matter? Maybe some day that’ll make a difference.

As the saying goes, "Whomever has the gold makes the rules": Texas has the money (and therefore the clout) to accept or deny textbooks for their students, which will have ramifications for other schools in other states. Recommended reading: the "Don't Know Much" series by Kenneth Davis and "Everything You Know is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide". Both are very informative. Barb

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