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After hours of testimony, California state board rejects two history textbooks, approves 10 others

By in Press Enterprise on November 17, 2017

By EdSource

By THERESA HARRINGTON, EdSource

After hours of testimony, the state Board of Education rejected two history textbooks from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, but approved 10 others based on new history social sciences guidelines.

Following nearly eight hours of emotional pleas from Hindus and Indian American, as well as advocates for the LGBTQ community requesting fair historical representations in K-8 textbooks, the state Board of Education endorsed the recommendations of an advisory panel.

When Board President Mike Kirst declared the public hearing closed after about 500 people spoke, he said: “That was the longest in the history of the state Board of Education.”

But that wasn’t the only historical moment. The board also said it was making history by approving new textbooks they expect to be models for other states across the nation — for their new content related to diverse populations as well as for robust lessons in civic engagement.

“Part of what we’re trying to do is get more people engaged in civic participation — and we certainly had a lot today,” Kirst said, calling the meeting “in some ways a model” of the types of opportunities that they are encouraging for people’s voices to be heard.

The vote marked the first time textbooks were adopted in the state under the FAIR Education Act, passed in 2011, which required California’s history-social sciences texts to provide fair, accurate, inclusive and respectful representations of people with disabilities and those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. In addition, texts are also required to portray people from different backgrounds and religions fairly and accurately based on “social content” regulations.

The state board agreed with recommendations of its Instructional Quality Commission to reject the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt texts because the volume of corrections needed would amount to “rewrites,” which are not allowed in the state’s process. The board also agreed with […]    

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