We don't need any of that Texas-style, right-wing political slant in California textbooks, so it's good to see a bill, SB 302, progressing through the Legislature that would require textbooks to be scrutinized for any of the odious changes that the Texas Board of Education ordered inserted into schoolbooks there. But it's too bad that while state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) was guarding textbooks against that conservative spin, he neglected to guard against the liberal political spin that was recently signed into law.
The Texas changes, adopted in 2010, represented an offensive twisting of historical fact. This included downplaying Thomas Jefferson's role as a Founding Father because of his advocacy for separating church and state, elevating the inaugural speech of Confederate President Jefferson Davis to the same prominence as that of Abraham Lincoln, and making it appear as though the internment of 100,000 Japanese Americans during World War II had no racial aspect. That's just wrong.
Yet California has also been politicizing its textbooks for years, in ways that are perhaps less blatantly dishonest (and more in line with the politics of this page) but that still reflect an unwarranted intrusion into academic issues. Among other things, textbooks are now required to show members of ethnic groups in exact proportion to their populations, and to include only positive portrayals of specific groups, no matter what the reality is. One of the more egregious examples is that the elderly must be portrayed as uniformly fit and active, as if older people don't struggle with disproportionate levels of illness, disability and financial troubles.