Page 13


that this factoid has been omitted or that incident misconstrued and the publishers \(whose fortune depends upon how thoroughly vising the text accordingly. After several years of such tinkering by the committee of the whole, the result may look like a book, open and close like a book, even occasionally read like a book. It will likely include a list of scholarly authors near the title page. But the actual work has long since been ceded to dozens of harried editors \(and more recently, as “minions deep in the bowels of the publishers’ offices.” The textbook they will”finally produce has less in common with, say, a real book of history, than it does with a ritualized, patriotic public relations pageant. Whatever else it includes, a social studies textbook is certain to be full of bright colors, uplifting noises, and ponderous hot-air balloons, like a hard-cover Thanksgiving Day Parade. AMERICANS LOVE PARADES [A textbook] must inspire the children with patriotism…. must be careful to tell the truth optimistically…. must dwell on failure only for its value as a moral lesson, must speak chiefly of success…. must give each State and Section full space and value for the achievements of each. The American Legion, 1925 when even the notion of “various racial, ethnic, and cultural MAKING HISTORY FUN The publishers submitted their draft social science textbooks in April spring and summer, the official and unofficial critics went to work, and the TEA .staff and the board-appointed area committees began reviewing the books to determine whether they met the proclamation standards. The public also weighs in, by letter and at committee hearings. The books have their supportersthis year most of the social science textbooks received spirited support from the Texas Council for Social Studies, a statewide teachers’ group understandably desperate for some current texts. The teachers put together their own review committees, and provided extensive and detailed commentaries on all the books, focusing very effectively on whether or not the proposed texts met the standards of the proclamation. The teachers’ commentary may well been the difference be tween a full-scale culture war at the state level, and what turned out to be the relatively uncontroversial approval of the final list of books. Most of the citizens’ testimony, on the other hand, bitterly attacked the books. The attacks came primarily from the far right, either organized groups The 1994-1996 social studies proclamation issued by the board of education is a mostly innocuous document, outlining at length the various categories of knowledge and skills that proposed textbooksin this instance for Grades 1-6should cover. It is a little bit of everything: citizenship, economics, psychology/sociology/anthropology. But note the first item, “citizenship”it doesn’t quite fit the list as a category of scholarship, but its pride of place confirms the special moral burden that is placed upon social studies textbooks \(and ileges of citizenship in classroom settings.” The math proclamation, on the other hand, has no analogous languagemath teachers, surprisingly, are expected to teach math. This moralistic undertone runs through the social studies proclamation, which requires that textbooks “emphasize the free market system and its benefits,” and “predict consequences for the violation of rules and laws.” The history textbooks, in particular, are expected to “identify individuals of various racial, ethnic, and cultural groups who have contributed to the community and state,” as well as the celebratory holidays associated with each. By prescription and tradition, the publishers are fully aware what these standards mean in practice: mention every possible interest group and its socially-approved heroes, and do so in a predominantly positive, uplifting, and optimistic manner. \(It’s worth noting that this is an undeniable improvement over the standards of a generation ago, DECEMBER 6, 1996 1776. WHAT DIC COLONISTS THIP ABOUT SEPARA1 FRON GREAT By 1776 many Patriots believed in was the only answer to their cord Great Britain. As his view Thomas Paine ex; Thoma s the Patriots saw tages in being ruled by Britain. The Loyalists were aainst separ Great Britain. Many against them agreed colonists had not always been freak Still, they believed that remained in bein strong advan g connected to ante According to William Franklin, di the colonies’s they economy and military c stand on their own, Many African Americans refused to sides d , As the unsigned newspaper lett\( thir Viewpoint explained, slavery was Al i rt”*.. A to th exception e Patriots” eau