SACRAMENTO — Despite protests by religious groups and others, a key state curriculum review committee on Thursday approved new history and social studies textbooks for California elementary and junior high school pupils.
The History-Social Science Committee of the state Curriculum Commission approved a series for kindergarten through eighth grade published by Houghton Mifflin Co., and an eighth-grade book produced by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Sixteen other books, submitted by seven different publishers, were rejected.
Approval by the full commission is expected today. The final decision will be made by the State Board of Education in October.
State law requires local school districts to mostly purchase state-adopted textbooks. But each district is allowed to use 30% of its state money to buy materials that are not on the adopted list.
Over a period of three or four years, California school districts are expected to purchase about $200 million in new history and social science books.
The new books will be used as part of a radically different history-social science curriculum that was approved by the State Board of Education three years ago.
The history of religion will be taught for the first time. How religion is treated in the textbooks triggered dozens of protests at a public hearing Wednesday.
Jewish organizations objected that Judaism was discussed only as a crude precursor to Christianity, while Muslim groups said much of the material about Islam was inaccurate and demeaning.
But after several hours of deliberation, the committee rejected these protests and called for only minor changes in the books.