I hate to criticize Texas, because it is my native state. On the other hand, Texas brought us NCLB and promoted testing as the answer to all our ills. And frankly, it has always been nutty when it comes time to adopt textbooks.


This time, the committee left out a lot of really absurd stuff—apparently there were enough people there who didn’t want to look too foolish, but they did leave in the claim that Moses somehow influenced the American Constitution. Maybe there is some logical connection there, but I haven’t figured it out yet.


In 2003, I wrote a book about textbook adoptions called The Language Police, and I know how zany many states have been when a committee gets to decide what will be taught to all the children in the state. You would be amazed at how Shakespeare’s plays were mangled, how classic books were censored, how all sorts of nonsense were inserted and excluded to satisfy the textbook committees. The publishers for the education industry have a long list of words, phrases, and illustrations that may never be included in textbooks or tests. For example, the champions for senior citizens insisted that the term “senior citizens” never be used, and that older people never be portrayed as infirm in any way, like using a walker or a cane. The preferable illustration would be Grandpa on the roof, hammering in nails, heedless to risk.


California rejected a book because it included a story about Mother Goose, which was clearly sexist.


One of the hopeful results of online textbooks might be the lessening of the power of state textbook committees. That would be a good development.