The California Senate passed a bill Friday to prevent the new Texas social studies curriculum from unknowingly affecting its textbooks.
In a bipartisan 25 to 5 vote, state lawmakers approved SB 1451 that requires California’s Board of Education to review and report any discrepancies between the new Texas curriculum and California’s standard.
Since Texas is the second largest textbook market in the country, changes to its curriculum are expected to influence publishers and thus textbooks used in classrooms nationwide. But the California Senate, whose state has largest textbook market in the country, pushed back against the Texas standard by passing SB 1451 legislation.
About a week ago, the Texas State Board of Education approved a new social studies curriculum that places more emphasis on the role of Christianity in the founding of the nation, among other changes.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), who wrote and sponsored SB 1451, complained that the new Texas standard seeks to promote a closer relationship between church and state.
In a statement, the AU accused the “right-wind fundamentalists” on the Texas State Board of Education of being “determined to rewrite American history.”
But supporters of the standard retorted that it is the “fringe left” who tried to rewrite history books.
“Liberal fringe efforts to complicate, obfuscate, and denigrate our heritage and history must be rejected,” said Jonathan Saenz, director of legislative affairs at the faith-based legal group Liberty Institute.
The new Texas standard was approved after 18 months of work and will serve to guide curriculum in the state’s public schools for the next ten years.
Some 4.8 million K-12 students in Texas will be directly affected by the new curriculum.
By comparison, California has more than 6.2 million students attending K-12 public schools.
As the two states battle to influence the nation’s textbooks, some inside the industry, however, say neither will affect the nation’s curriculum because states can now digitally customize textbooks.
Bill SB 1451 will next face a vote in the California Assembly, and if passed, will head to the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for approval.