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State Board of Education votes Friday on new textbooks

Many outdated books now 12 years old no longer in use

SAN ANTONIO – The vote by the State Board of Education on textbooks, will come on Friday to allow more time for publishers to make any needed changes in the wake of continued public comment.

However, much has changed since a 2011 state law that made SBOE recommendations optional, giving school districts more local control over the selection process of curriculum materials to teach mandated state standards

An example is Margarita Woodhouse, the social studies coordinator at Robert L. Vale Middle School in the Northside School District.

"I opted not to even put a textbook in my classroom this year," Woodhouse said.

Woodhouse said she instead uses a website she's developed as well as other technology.  

She said teachers still have a long list of standards that students must learn within a given amount of time, yet they have so much to learn.

"That's where the critical thinking and the analysis comes in. The kids are going to have to do a lot more on their own to fill in the gaps," Woodhouse said.

Woodhouse said although textbooks remain an important resource, she also urges her students to look beyond them to find other sources of information.

Frayed and outdated textbooks now 12 years old are kept in a small room at the school.

Although districts like Northside now have their own review process, the State Board of Education continues doing what it's always done under the watchful eye of groups like the Truth in Texas Textbooks Coalition.

(Ret.) Lt. Col. Roy White, whose group has been at the hearings in Austin, said, "How many local school districts have the ability to generate experts to review, just in our area alone, 150 social studies textbooks?"

For instance, he said his group took issue with how one textbook described terrorism and the 9/11 attacks without using the term Muslim.

However, White said, "We are very happy the 1,500 corrections we submitted, the publisher is still responding to them. We're hopeful they'll continue to make those changes.

Woodhouse said she was not surprised with the diverse opinions regarding social studies, a perfect platform for controversy.

She said, "Everybody has a point of view. Everybody has a bias. Everybody has an agenda."