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Eje Wray DISSENTING OPINION is available through the Texas Observer Bookstore at the customary 20 percent discount on titles carried in stock: $1.64, sales tax included. There is no additional charge for postage if payment accompanies your order. THE TEXAS OBSERVER BOOKSTORE 600 W. 7th, Austin, Texas 78701 GET READY! Life Insurance Annuities Health Insurance and THE AGGIE SPECIAL THE COMMODORE HOTEL On Capitol Hill Owned by Texans. Run by a Texan. 520 N. Capitol St., NW Washington, D.C. 20001 “Questionable” ideas won’t do The textbook battle By Patricia Konstam Austin, San Antonio The 1978 public school textbook contractsdistributing most of a $40.6 million allotment among 21 publisherswill be authorized by the State Board of Education Nov. 12 in what a Texas Education Agency brochure calls “the largest single purchase of public school textbooks in the U.S.” Contracts will go to those companies whose books survive a five-way tug-ofwar among publishers, citizen protesters, the State Textbook Committee, the TEA curriculum staff, and the State Board of Education. Only the board can choose the books, and it has become the newest and most unpredictable participant in the contest. At one time, the board just rubberstamped the recommendations of the commissioner of education, who used his discretion to draw up a list of acceptable books after consultations with the STC \(made up of 15 teachers and disBut in 1974, SBE members like James M. Binion of Abilene and E. M. Huggins of Fulshear discovered that the board had the power to reject books and began to insist on textual revisions. “I don’t want any idea in [textbooks] that’s questionable,” Binion declared. That same year, Mrs. Billy C. Hutcheson of Fort Worth joined the ranks of textbook protesters when she organized a campaign against Economy Co.’s seventh and eighth grade basal readers. The STC had recommended adoption of the books because of their step-by-step skills program, but at an SBE hearing held before the vote on the books, Mrs. Hutcheson quoted the Fort Worth police chief and other leading citizens who had likened the books to a “how-to-do-it series in crime.” She charged the publisher with violating the Texas penal code by selling “harmful material” to minors. The SBE dropped the books. Economy then sued Hutcheson and two other protesters for conspiracy to libel, but eventually backed off. Texas conservatives quickly came to see in the protests