AUSTIN , Texas, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Texas' State Board of Education rejected a plan to create an expert panel to identify factual errors in history and geography textbooks.
An 8-7 vote Wednesday shot down a proposal to have a panel of college professors read the books specifically searching for errors.
The vote followed a year of controversy regarding the books' interpretations of Islamic history, the Ten Commandments, the Civil War and global warming. There was also an inaccurate reference to African slaves transported to North America as "workers" brought to the board's attention by the mother of a ninth-grade Houston student, provoked a national dispute.
The issue concerns the responsibility to ensure accuracy in textbooks. Citizen panels, nominated by the board, determine only if a book fits the state's curriculum requirements. Identification of errors is in the hands of publishers and the public, and academics and citizens have noted omissions and flaws in social studies textbooks approved last year for Texas students.
On the elected, 15-person board, all five Democrats and two of the 10 Republicans voted in favor of creating a panel.
"I know that people are concerned about pointy-headed liberals in the ivory tower making our process ... worse. Why wouldn't we reach out to them and say 'let's make sure these books are as factually accurate as possible?'" board member Thomas Ratliff, a Republican, said
Despite the vote against the formation of an expert panel, the board offered tentative approval to other changes in its textbook adoption process, including measures to encourage public participation in the debate and clarifying the board's power to assess penalties to publishers of factual errors.