Historians Discuss Texas Textbooks

The group of historians that will discuss the Texas textbook controversy is just one of many panels as the Organization of American Historians holds its annual meeting here beginning on Thursday.  Rice University assistant professor Rebecca Goetz will be on the textbook panel. She says the failure of historians to explain what they do and what history is, has made space for the current textbook controversy in Texas.

"What history is, it's a method it's a way of approaching the past. It is not a list of facts determined by an arbitrary panel that are dumped in kid’s brains and then they've learned history."

Goetz says Texas actually had a pretty good method of selecting textbooks.

"When they first started looking the social studies curriculum, they groups of veteran teachers and historians from the state of Texas, and they came up with appeared to be a perfectly reasonable set of social studies guidelines."

The controversy began when the state board of education decided to revise those standards on its own. Professor Goetz believes the board made the decisions it did because it thought conservative issues were not being taught, but in fact, she says in almost every textbook she reviews, and there are many, these same topics are covered.

The Organization of American Historians will be meeting in Houston tomorrow through Sunday.

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