and the appeals before the board the best way to rid the schools of what they felt were objectionable materials forced on their districts by Austin bureaucrats. Last year the SBE turned down four books after Huggins, Dr. William Kemp of Houston, and Woodrow Bean of El Paso took offense at some lines in each text that right-wing activists had brought to their attention. Some of the rejects had been intended to meet the needs of streetwise low achievers. \(The authors of one of the proscribed books, a biology text, had declared in the heading to a chapter on urban pollution that “The city is sick.” This the conservative pecksniffs Concerned that the SBE neither reduce the choices already accorded local districts nor arbitrarily drop books of special merit, board member Jane Wells of Austin proposed last year that the board produce written objections to books it voted down. Protesters are already required to do so. So far the board has not chosen to impose such a rule on itself. New arena Wells says the SBE’s willingness to drop good books reflects “what board members understand about pedagogical techniques, the needs of different students, and how sophisticated students are.” Most observers agree that the SBE is reacting to a stepped-up protest movement at a time when the textbook adoption process is becoming just one more political arena where partisans vie to influence public policy. The board’s eagerness to appease conservative bookbanners is described by some apologists as a safety valve for the conflict’s tensions. “We don’t have to take to the streets, like those people in West Virginia when they didn’t like their textbooks,” explains Mrs. R. C. Bearden of San Angelo, textbook chairman of the Texas State Daughters of the American Revolution, a group that has won more than one round before the 24-member SBE. Both the Texas chapter of the feminist National Organization for Women and the anti-feminist Dallas-based Association of the W’s actively recruit textbook protesters. The anti-feminists are not especially concerned with female roles in textbooks; they care about the broader conservative agenda, joining DAR’s Bearden and veteran protester Mrs. Mel Gabler of Longview in lobbying state education officials for a return to the teaching of traditional morality, patriot’ ism, and free enterprise. They do not want students encouraged to question these values or talk about private matters like sex or adolescent emotions. Several state board members have been conspicuous in their sympathy with such concerns. And the SBE shows signs of bowing to the backlash against feminism. A board policy adopted in 1973 said textbooks should include women in “roles with which they are not traditionally identified” and “present role choices . . . in addition to marriage and homemaking.” In 1976, the priorities were reversed. The relevant policy now reads, “Traditional roles of men and women, boys and girls shall be included as well as those changing roles in our society.” “It was like the ERA,” observed a TEA official. “Feminists did real well until somebody woke up.” But feminists have made their gains not through the SBE, but through the textbook committee, which has sometimes concurred with suggested revisions, and the publishers, who know they will be met with similar criticisms in other states. This year, the STC was so convinced by feminist testimony that it unanimously resolved that future Texas textbooks should avoid the generic masculine \(“he,” “mankind,” etc., used to mendation becomes policy will be up to the SBE, whose acquiescence is doubtful. In 1976, the board vetoed such a language change volunteered by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Democracy in action Dr. Dorothy Davidson, associate commissioner for general education, observed that a number of trends have intersected in recent years to create “a more reactive kind of board.” For one thing, notes Davidson, board members are “much more politicized” and more conscious of their constituenciesand, perhaps, of re-election realities. Other factors contributing to the board’s sensitivity to popular pressures include, says Davidson, “a society that is demanding more and more voice in decisions” and an official commitment to opening government to citizen observation and participation. All of this, Davidson says, adds up to “the democratization of education.” But government’s new responsiveness comes at a priceand those who pay some of it might well be the students who, according to professional educators, need books that mention a few ideas other than those that win elections. Patricia Konstam is a San Antonio freelance writer who has often participated in the textbook adoption process. Carter. . One: The major brand-name firms are not the ones that find oil and bring it to the surface. Small, independent oil producerswho abound in Texasare the risk-takers, the innovators, the explorers, and ultimately the discoverers of crude. Ten thousand independent drillers account for 80 percent of all wells brought in, and for 90 percent of the wildcat wells \(which involve the greatest ing more oil, then a sound national energy policy would focus on the needs of these no-name independents, and exclude the big refiners altogether. \(Unfortunately, the many independents actually are dependent on the few majors to whom they must sell their crude, so too often they undercut their own interests, aligning themselves with the bigtimers when they would do better to Two: The major firms already are making huge profits and have no reasonable need for extraordinary incentives. The ten largest oil companies alone made a total of $9.2 billion in profits last year. That’s 93 percent better than the same firms did in 1972, just before the oil crisis officially hit this country. To give these figures some perspective, consider that the earnings of American workers \(sometimes criticized by big business as the same four-year period. Yes, concede the oil companies, our volume of profit is staggering, and it has increased dramatically, but Lord knows our rate of profit is too low to attract the investment capital we need to increase our oil production capacity. Nonsense. Business Week magazine, in its March 21 issue, reported that for oil’s Big Ten, the 1976 return on investment \(the aged 14.6 percentbetter than the average return of the big businesses ranked by the magazine and better than such other industrial categories as banking 7.7 7.6 perSmall businesses average a return of under 10 percent, farRiters make it on about 5 percent, and a consumer’s investment of savings at the local bank nets 5 percent. Actually, oil majors do even better than these figures indicate, though you wouldn’t know it from reading the public record. Through their manipulation of tax laws, and the corporate wonders of vertical integration, conglomerate structure and multinational sprawl, there is no THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17
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