PUBLIC SHUT OUT Red Tape Curtain Falls On Textbooks AUSTIN The Observer this week learned through a series of interviews with state education officials that there is no way for the public to discover precisely what changes the State Textbook Committee requested publishers to make in textbooks offered for adoption this fall. The textual editing and re-writing was agreed upon in private meetings between the textbook committee and the publishers a few weeks ago. A record of these discussions is available to the public, but it is an incomplete and in many instances a cryptic report which even officials of the Texas Education Agency say they cannot explain. It has been admitted by J. B. Golden, director of the TEA’s textbook division, that every history and geography book was altered to some extent to satisfy the ultra-conservative criticisms of several ‘pressure groups. Heretofore when the Observer has asked Golden for specific examples of these changes, he has answered that all changes would be listed in the official “Report of the State Textbook Committee to the State Commissioner of Education,” as soon as the shorthand record was transcribed. The report was available this week, but its omissions are apparent. For several examples: OThe report says of one book, “Exception is taken to the discussion of relationships of government and industry, which does not do justice to free enterprise and glorifies government regulation. A discussion of capitalism should be inserted, giving advantages, -etc.” The report does not say what kind of “discussion” was agreed upon. OOf another book the textbook committee ordered, “Change moral code. Should be rewritten to sustain desirable attitudes.” No indication is given of the type of rewriting that was ordered., Another publisher is ordered: “Revise statement to give clearer picture of Marxism.” There is no record of the “clearer picture” agreed upon orally between the committee and the publisher. OOf Webster’s Elementary Dictionary and Webster’s Secondary Dictionary, the report says: “The definition of ‘conservative” which the textbook company has agreed to alter seems to be the only valid objection. The change offered by the company is adequate.” The wording of the change is not given in the report. Of another book: “Insert full explanation of capitalist system, stressing independence, free enterprise, competition, etc.” No explanation is given of either “etc.” or of the intent behind “full explanation.” OOf Merle Curti’s Rise of the American Nation, a book strongly contested by Evetts Haley and his Texans for America but adopted over his protests, the committee ordered: O”Page 804’Revolt in Poland.’ The impression that Poland gained freedom of speech, press, and religion should’ be corrected.” Obviously Curti agreed to “correct” the text on that point or the textbook committee !would not finally have endorsed his book; but no hint is given as to what direction the “correction” will take. The committee also said of Curti’s book: “Discussion should be included on the manner in which the Soviet Union acquired the atomic bomb.” The public is not told what “discussion” Curti consented to make. Holt, Rinehart & Winston Inc., publishers of Winston Dictionary for Schools, were ordered: “Change the definitions of Atheist, Individualism, and Texas.” The requested definitions are not given. OOf ‘Heath’s -United States History, the report says: “Pages 426-428leaves insinuation that `Greed and power’ were primary motives of the early business tycoons.” If the publishers agreed to change the text on these two pages, details of the agreement are not told here. OOf the same book: “Question the appraisal of New Deal that ‘Our liberties did not suffer’.” If the committee wanted the book’s author to say that liberties did suffer under the New Deal, to what extent of suffer ng did the committee and publisher agree upon? This is not disclosed. OOf the same book: “Justification of Yalta to be in error.” The committee’s idea of the error is not given. OOf Houghton Mifflin’s The Making of Modern America, the report says: “Include additional paragraph in Chapter 44 entitled ‘Communist Agents Are Tried and Convicted.’ ” The additional paragraph is not given here. Sometimes Details These are only a few of the more obvious omissions, and the fact that the report does not elaborate on what the committee wanted in these instances is made more striking because the report occasionally outlines in detail the committee’s wishes. For example, after giving this quote from Houghton Mifflin’s This Is America’s Story: “In 1917, while World War I was still going on, the Russians revolted against their government. They overthrew their ruler, called the Czar, Then they set up a government in which the country was controlled by the members of one party, called the !Communist Party.” The committee goes on to ask, “Could it ‘be rephrased this way? ‘Before a stable government could be established, the Bolshevists, a Militant ‘Minority, coerced the Russian ‘people and set up a government by which the country was controlled by the members of one party, the Communists.’ ” Such complete explanations of the committee’s stand are rare. Attempting to have the gaps filled in, the Observer ‘first asked Golden if the requested ‘wording for all changes was available. He said he didn’t know,, ‘but that if the changes are available, Assistant Commissioner Lee Wilborn would have them. State Commissioner of Education J. W. Edgar agreed that Wilborn was the man to see. But Wilborn told the Observer that he was frankly stumped by some of the abbreviated orders, and even on those he attempted to fill in, he admitted there was room for justified argument as to whether or not his interpretation of an order was correct. “I think that what you are going to find is that a lot of the agreements were made in conversations, not written down,” he said. Is there any record available at the Texas Education Agency of what changes the publishers were asked to make? “They didn’t file those with me,” he said. “What they didI’m not at those meetings, but I know the procedure what they did, they call a representative of the publishing house up before them and they outline what changes they think are proper. Now, it will come out that way in the book. We’ll check to see. The committee was canVinced and assured that the publishers would make the changes.” He was asked how the textbooks could be checked when they come back from the publishers if no written record is kept of the changes that were ordered. “Well, if you have a copy of the ‘Report of the State Textbook Committee,’ you have everything I have,” he said, “and that’s all I know about it.” He assured the Oberver “I’m not trying to evade you,” and he repeated his eagerness to interprete the report in any way he could. But he indicated that so far as he was concerned, the ordered re-writing was something that had been left to the textbook committee to oversee. ‘Something Left Out The Observer turned to Dr. Harold H. Hitt, superintendent of schools in Midland and chairman of the textbook committee. The interview was by long-distance telephone and /Hitt was handicapped by not having a copy of his committee’s report at hand, but when some excerpts from the report were read to him, he readily agreed: “Apparently something was left out. I’d have to look at my notes to tell. A lot of those changes were suggested by indivIdual members, not by the committee as a whole. Presiding, I got a pretty sketchy account. But it’s quite apparent something was left out.” Asked if it were true that some of the textbook committee’s proceedings were not included in the report, Hitt said, “Some didn’t get in, that’s right. Some conversation didn’t get in.” While Wilborn had said the detailed criticism was left to the textbook committee, Hitt said: “We AUSTIN The State Board of Education last week unanimously supported the Edgewood Independent School District in its firing of veteran teacher Joe Torres, but one state board member, ‘C. ‘Ray ‘Holbrook of Texas City, did say publicly just before the oard’s vote that “It was one of the grossest miscarriages of justice I’ve seen up here for a long time.” Torres, an MA graduate of Southwest Texas State Teachers College and father of eight children, had taught in the Edgewood schools nine years up to the time he was let out at the first of the 1960′-61 school year. Edgewood Supt. of Schools Benny F. Steinhauser said Torres did not have a contract for 1960-61. Torres said he did, and produced what he claimed to be the carbon copy of it. Steinhauser said the carbon copy was illegal because it had been altered. Torres’ attorney, Sam Houston Clinton, proved in hearings before State Commissioner J. W. Edgar and before the state school board that Torres’ altered contract copy was only one of several altered contract copies issued by the Edgewood district that year. “Altered by whom? We don’t know,” said ‘Clinton. “We say it was probably by the secretaries in the board’s office. They make mistakes; they erase and re-type. It’s done all the time. But surely a left it pretty generally up to the Texas Education Agency staff to make detailed recommendations.” This brought the Observer full circle in its investigation and threw it back onto the report. But even in that there are some indications of the directibn of the orders issued in the private session with the publishers. For instances: OCommenting on Macmillan’s History of a Free People, the committee said: “Page 686, in ‘American Foreign Policy and Communism,’ column 2, paragraph 1, line 9, we find. ‘The United States can offer no pat substitute for Marxism, since by the nature of a free society, we disagree among ourselves, about how to promote the good life.’ In that one sentence the authors seem to condemn the entire system of free enterprise and the worth of the individual.” 0 Of another book, “Page 615, column 1, paragraph 2Delete the word ‘Democratic.’ ” OOf another book, “Page 429 ‘Industrialization creates problems,’ the second paragraph states, ‘Even those. who showed great generosity in disposing of their fortunes’ were usually against laws to improve working and living conditions.’ This seems to imply that these men were against the improvement of living and working conditions as well as the laws.” OOf another book, “Page 725 Change`Considering the total population of the country, the number proven disloyal was small, but’ etc.” OOf another book, “Page 552533Referring to the topic, ‘The ‘Puerto Ricans Are Aided,’ the publishers have stated that they are introducing new material to provide a more balanced treatment. man’s job can’t be held in jeopardy because of that.” During the school year 1959-60, Torres taught, on a temporary credential, a group of extremely slow students. The next summer, supposing he had a contract to return and do the same kind of teaching, he went to SWTSC and earned a credential in special education. When he returned to the Edgewood district in San Antonio, Supt. Steinhauser told him he was through. But this was after the principal had assigned Torres to a class, had given him a library schedule and a name card for his door. Torres argued this showed that other officials in the school system also thought he was a contract teacher. Shortly thereafter Steinhauser telephoned Torres and told ‘him that he was short a sixth-grade teacher and that Torres could have that job. Permanently? Torres later said that was the understanding, but Steinhauser said he hired him only as a’ substitute. In any event, six weeks later Steinhauser again fired Torres. ‘Commissioner Edgar in his hearing ruled that Steinhauser had indeed hired Torres on a regular basis, bu’t not necessarily on a regular basis for the whole year. Steinhauser had said of Torres, “He failed miserably as a classroom teacher.” Attorney Clinton This is a desirable change. \(Answer to protests made by the TexIronically, the report indicates that sometimes the publishers who were quick to agree to make changes were criticized for jumping too eagerly. This happened to publishing house Lyons and Carnahan, which told the committee it was “not only willing but anxious to delete any reference” of suspected authors in its history book. The textbook committee noted that this willingness “in the absence of documentation . . . raises a question as to their interest in defending” the texthook. In this matter of eliminating the names of-alleged ‘subversives’ from recommended reading lists in the textbooks, Dr. Wilburn told the Observer he and Golden had every name an the list checked out “with the highest ‘authority” but “I am absolutely forbidden to quote these authorities. It goes right back to the FBI … Some of these characters have been convicted” for subversion . . . “But you get a man who has just been alleged, and you’re on ticklish ground. We read the list to the publishers, and they want to keep their books clean. The publishers have the same source for proving communists we do.” One member of the textbook committee told the Observer that some publishers said they would strike the names of some authors condemned by the Texans for America and the DAR without being asked to do so by the textbook committee, The only authors named in the report as having been officially deleted by the textbook committee were Langston Hughes, one of the Texans for America’s targets, and Pete Steeger. In his instructions to the textbook committee, Commissioner Edgar specified not only that “You are to determine whether the content of books is good,” but also “whether the content of the book conforms to what we consider to be Americanism . . .” B. S. asked him how, if he really felt that way about Torres, he could justify hiring him even on a temporary basis.
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