NY Times analysis: California, Texas social studies textbooks tell different stories

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AUSTIN (New York Times/KXAN) — The New York Times analyzed eight of the most widely-used social studies textbooks in both Texas and California, and while they cover the same subjects, they tell different stories, the news outlet says.

“The books have the same publisher. They credit the same authors,” New York Times writer Dana Goldstein wrote. “But they are customized for students in different states, and their contents sometimes diverge in ways that reflect the nation’s deepest partisan divides.”

Two of the many differences highlighted in the piece involve the Second Amendment and the Harlem Renaissance.

In the California version, there’s an annotation giving context to the Second Amendment, commonly referred to as the right the bear arms. It reads, in part, the original intent of the amendment was to “prevent the national government from repeating the actions of the British, who tried to take weapons away from the colonial militia.”

It continues, “this amendment seems to support right of citizens to own firearms, but the Supreme Court has ruled that it does not prevent Congress from regulating the interstate sale of firearms.”

There is no such annotation in the Texas version.

Another difference highlighted is how the books describe the impact the Harlem Renaissance had on African-American life.

While both editions essentially tell the same story, an entry in the Texas version adds, “some critics dismissed the quality of literature produced.”

The article points out differing state rules and social studies guidelines shape the editions put out for different states. California and Texas each have a textbook review panel that provides suggestions to the publisher.

“All the members of the California panel were educators selected by the State Board of Education, whose members were appointed by former Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat,” the article describes. “The Texas panel, appointed by the Republican-dominated State Board of Education, was made up of educators, parents, business representatives and a Christian pastor and politician.”

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