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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Is Islam Indoctrination in American Textbooks?

By Dr. Carole Hornsby Haynes  |  August 10, 2010  Texas Insider

The war over social studies textbooks rages on as political and religious groups struggle to control the content for their own advantage.  Attention is turning now to the issue of Islam indoctrination in our textbooks and schools.

The influence of Islam in America is gaining national attention as Muslims are demanding to have shariah (Islamic law) trump the U.S. Constitution in American courts of law, filing lawsuits and issuing death threats against those who dare to criticize Islam or Muhammad, and committing acts of terror on American soil. 

Americans have been loath to criticize Islam, preferring instead to ignore the basic teachings of the Quran, including the forbidding of Muslims to make friends with Christians or Jews and commanding that infidels (non-Muslims) be killed.  We docilely obey Islamic demands to stifle any criticism of Islam and “turn the other cheek” when America, Christians, and Jews are denigrated by Muslims.

However, Americans are taking a new stance as they question what their children are being taught in public schools, especially in the field of Social Studies.  They have been shocked with what they are finding in many of the World History textbooks approved by the states for use in classrooms.

Concerned citizens are meeting with school board members across the nation to voice their outrage about the distortions and biases about Islam in World History textbooks.

The American Textbook Council (ATC) is an independent New York-based educational organization that reviews history textbooks and social studies curricula. It is dedicated to improving instructional materials and civic education nationwide.  In 2008 under the guidance of its director, Dr. Gilbert T. Sewall, the ATC conducted a review in which ten widely adopted junior and senior high school history textbooks were sampled.  The review,“Islam in theClassroom:  What the Textbooks Tell Us, concluded:

  • Many political and religious groups try to use the textbook process to their advantage, but the deficiencies in Islam-related lessons are uniquely disturbing. History textbooks present an incomplete and confected view of Islam that misrepresents its foundations and challenges to international security.
  • Misinformation about Islam is more pronounced in junior high school textbooks than high school textbooks.
  • Outright textbook errors about Islam are not the main problem. The more serious failure is the presence of disputed definitions and claims that are presented as established facts.
  • Deficiencies about Islam in textbooks copyrighted before 2001 persist and in some cases have grown worse. Instead of making corrections or adjusting contested facts, publishers and editors defend misinformation and content evasions against the record. Biases persist. Silences are profound and intentional.
  • Islamist activists use multiculturalism and ready-made American political movements, especially those on campus, to advance and justify uncritical Islam-related content makeover in history textbooks.
  • Particular fault rests with the publishing corporations, the boards of directors, and executives who decide what editorial policies their companies will pursue.

In 2003 Dr. Sewall testified about textbook problems in the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Hearing on Intellectual Diversity.

Dr. Sewall placed the blame for a large part of the problem squarely on the textbook publishers. He said the playing field had changed from one of numerous independent, competing companies, which had created and sold textbooks, to one now dominated by a few giant revenue-driven multinational companies.

None of these publishing giants shows the least interest in innovation, change or offering books that come closer to meeting the wishes of textbook critics and state-level curriculum reformers. Instead, publishers cater to pressure groups for whom history textbook content is an extension of a broader political or cultural cause. They make books whose content is meant to suit the sensitivities of groups and causes more interested in self-promotion than in historical fact, scholarly appraisal, or balance.

They are, more likely than not, listening to the wrong voices…  biased instructional materials are undermining students' appreciation for America and citizenship.

Randy Rives from Odessa, Texas, presented a Resolution on the floor of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) in the July 2010 session.  The Resolution is to be added as an agenda item in an upcoming meeting of the Board, possibly on September 22-24, 2010.

Rives’ concern is that the Social Studies TEKS (Texas’ curriculum standards) can dictate what publishers arerequired to put in textbooks, but not what is prohibited from being placed in them.  The Rives Resolution contains numerous examples from World History books used in Texas until 2003 that had pro-Islam/anti-Christian statements.  Since currently used textbooks were from many of the same publishers, the same type of content may be in these.

Because the SBOE adopted new Social Studies TEKS in May 2010 with new textbooks forthcoming, Rives wants to prohibit publishers from inserting biased content to satisfy their special interest groups and investors.

The Senate testimony by Dr. Sewall that large publishers cater to the whims of special interest groups is substantiated by the evidence in the Rives Resolution.  One of the books being protested, World History: Patterns of Interaction, is published by Houston Mifflin.  This giant is now controlled by Education Media and Publishing Group (EMPG), which lists the royal family of Dubai as a major shareholder.

Because past World History books have had a definite bias toward Islam with little favorable coverage and attention paid to Christianity and Judaism, Rives proposed the following to the Texas State Board of Education on July 23, 2010.  The Resolution is entitled “Proposed Texas State Board of Education Resolution on Democratic Values in Social Studies Textbooks.”

RESOLVED by the SBOE, that diverse reviewers have repeatedly documented gross pro-Islamic/anti-Christian distortions in Social Studies texts; that Social Studies TEKS cannot provide relief, because they tell what a course should cover, not all it should avoid; that under Texas Education Code §28.002(h)&(i), the SBOE must enforce "the basic democratic values of our state and national heritage;" that chronic partiality to one of the world's great religions, and animus against another, flout democratic values and the letter and spirit of this rule; that Texas Administrative Code §66.66(c)(4) provides, "Instructional materials may be rejected for content that clearly conflicts with the stated purpose of the Texas Education Code, §28.002(h);" and that the SBOE will reject future prejudicial Social Studies submissions that so offend Texas law.

The adoption of the Rives Resolution by the Texas SBOE would be a major step toward ensuring that our schoolchildren are reading accurate history.

If Texas, one of the two largest textbook purchasers in the nation, refuses to accept any textbooks that do not meet the requirements of its Education Code, revenue-driven publishers will be forced to be accountable to those who pay for their books---the American taxpayers.

Copyright ©2010 Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D., All rights reserved 


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